3 Reasons Why PO Should Attend Daily Scrums • Slash

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3 Reasons Why PO Should Attend Daily Scrums

August 30, 2022

Efficiency is important as ever in the fast-paced world we have today. The margin for mistakes and misunderstandings is shrinking, and creators of all ilk need to adapt quickly and perform at the height of their capabilities. Software developers widely use the Scrum Framework to assist with those objectives. In this framework, the smooth exchange of information between team and client, which is one of the key reasons Scrum is efficient, is ensured by the Product Owner (PO).

PO – the key link in Scrum Framework

The PO is the one responsible for introducing the overall product vision and setting concrete tasks for the Scrum Team. Let’s look at how this dynamic works and why the PO’s attendance at Scrum meetings is a huge benefit.

According to Scrum co-creators Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the framework is founded on empiricism and lean thinking. What it means in practical terms is solving complex and unpredictable problems through consistent communication, real results, and transparent workflow. The framework is implemented via the Scrum Team, which consists of a Product Owner, a Scrum Master, and Developers. 

The Product Owner (PO) is the link between the Scrum Team and the client. The PO communicates the client’s product vision to the team through the Product Backlog – the list of everything the client wants in the product. It serves as the list of work the developers do in Sprints, which are measured periods of time required for completion of specific tasks. The Product Owner participates in the discussions (Scrum Events) that form the main points of communication of the Scrum Team.

There are five Scrum Events: Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum (also referred to as daily stand up), Sprint itself, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. As you can see, the framework takes the whole development process from clear definition of what needs to be done to the final product with regular assessments and adjustments on the way. As the person in charge of the Product Backlog and the bridge between the client and the team, the PO holds an important position.

What is the PO’s role in Scrum Events, and why is their attendance of the Daily Scrum beneficial?

Sprint Planning, Review, and Retrospective are the strategic elements of the process. The Product Owner meets the rest of the Scrum Team to discuss and set requirements and acceptance criteria, all details the team needs to complete the sprint. The completed work needs to be assessed both in the process and after the project is finished – this is a key part of the Scrum Framework.

Daily Scrum is different. It is not about assessment.

Daily stand up to stay connected

These daily meetings take no longer than 15 minutes and pass without leadership. There is no reporting, no status updates, and no assignment of tasks. The purpose of Daily Scrum is to get the team together and sync up its progress towards the Spring Goal by reviewing the Spring Backlog and producing an actionable plan for the following day. This is an update on the classic approach to Daily Scrum, since Scrum.org encouraged Scrum teams to look beyond the 3 traditional questions. 

The Scrum Guide notes that Daily Scrum “is a chance for the developers in the team to inspect their progress towards the sprint goal and adapt the sprint backlog if needed.” The Guide also notes that the PO is an optional attendee. Moreover, the idea is that the Product Owner would come to Daily Scrum to observe and listen, not necessarily have active participation. If the Product Owner or Scrum Master are actively working on items in the Sprint Backlog, they participate as Developers.

Daily Scrum and Product Owner

As there are no hard rules, PO involvement in ceremonies including Daily Scrum is varied across organizations. The practice is different depending on factors like product type, team volume, number of products the PO owns, and organization influences. Some companies prefer to organize separate meetings specifically for the PO, as they feel the PO’s attendance of Daily Scrum alters the essence of the meeting.

Regardless of the level of involvement, there are several reasons the PO should attend Daily Scrum. Let’s focus on the 3 most compelling.

Increase availability 

Product Owners often work on multiple projects simultaneously, and even if not, their schedule is very busy. It reduces the time the PO spends with the rest of the team and increases the time the team waits for answers when questions inevitably arise. 

Attending multiple Daily Scrums during each sprint solves this problem. Important questions, e.g., regarding a user story or a backlog item, can be asked and answered quickly. After all, the PO is part of the team, so joining a daily meeting should not pose a problem.

Clarify assumptions

Daily Scrum is the best chance for Developers and the PO to clarify the assumptions raised by Developers during development. As DS is very short in duration, the clarification also happens quickly or, if it can’t be given on the same day, the PO can convey the required information at the next Daily Scrum they attend. As the PO makes executive product decisions every day based on the work items the Developers need to get done, clarifying assumptions is a big plus for the PO as well.

Another aspect of this benefit is that the PO can prevent communication gaps by attending Daily Scrum. The essence of this discussion is exchange of information, a conversation of equals, so the clarification happens not only at the level of information, but also at the level of good understanding between the members of the Scrum Team.

Remove impediments quickly

Daily Scrum is the opportunity for the Scrum Team to stay in sync and keep the work transparent. This means not only being aware of what others are doing every day and them being aware of each other’s individual progress, but also letting them know if you are having any impediments or blockers in your work.

Joining the Daily Scrum is a good opportunity for the Product Owner to work on this, as the PO is often the one required for removing the impediments. Similar to the first two reasons, this is a double incentive in the sense that it provides both efficiency and quick results.  

Opinions on the PO’s attendance at Daily Scrum still vary, and both benefits and pitfalls are pointed out, however, the flexibility of the Scrum Framework allows for different interpretations and applications of the Scrum Guide. Given that Scrum is founded on the values of openness, respect, and commitment, the PO’s attendance of Daily Scrum in line with those values can be very beneficial for the development. As for how often and when to attend, that is something you can decide depending on what works best for your team.

So, see what options serve your needs specifically, and work together to deliver!

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