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I'm confused about the PO's responsibility here. I was a developer on a Game Feature Team, but also a PO. The daily work of the developer is almost full time, so I have to work over time to take care my PO duty, and the responsibility of PO seems to be against developer's thoughts.

As a PO, I will chose more features next sprint. Otherwise, I will tell myself not to do so, because I'm a team member to develop those features. This situation makes me confused, so I want to hear some ideas from you guys.

I'm a new to Scrum and Game Dev (about 1 and half year), and also new to here and English.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Oct 23 '11 at 9:26

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I'd vote for pm, didn't even know it existed! –  ObscureRobot Oct 23 '11 at 5:41
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Poor language? What poor language? –  DeadMG Oct 23 '11 at 10:24
    
Plz excuse my poor English. :| –  Charlie Oct 23 '11 at 13:26
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Your use of English is clear and correct –  ObscureRobot Oct 23 '11 at 13:45
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It's a red flag when you say your development work is full time but the PO duty is "over time". If you set that priority, then you owe it to the team and yourself to convince whomever that the PO job is not right for you. –  GuyR Oct 24 '11 at 11:50

7 Answers 7

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It might seem as a bit akward but there really shouldn't be any reason for these roles to be combined. For one, someone has trusted you with this role, therefore your team has to respect that. Secondly you are now in a position where you can prioritze the work that has to be done so you can always explain why things are going the way they are. Third, you are in the team so you are carrying you share of the workload. Finally, it is a job, if you have to work hard that's fine. A team always needs to remember to add value to their project, it's not about free hand out's.

What it comes down to is "Have you got the goods to make these decissions?" If you think you have, do it!

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I've been working as a dev and PO for almost 5 months. It's not impossible, but the question is "is it reasonable or productive?" If I can give my work a mark, My first year of dev got "A+", but those 5 months' work got "B" or "B+" for my both duty. –  Charlie Oct 23 '11 at 13:58
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@Charlie Lack of focus will hurt your performance for sure. As long as your peers are aware of this happening everything should still be fine. I reckon adding an extra person tot the team could have resolved this but might not outweigh the extra cost. –  Carlo Kuip Oct 23 '11 at 18:03

In my experience, the product owner is either a PM/TPM or a member of the business team. While it isn't impossible for the PO to be a dev, there is some danger of conflict of interest. If your product is highly technical, the PO should have a dev background. If it is less technical and more end-user focused, then a PO with biz experience is critical.

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Having a dev background is the basic of understanding how to do the work, and what is the right order. My job may need it, but maybe not. I'm the only developer as a PO in all the "Game Feature Team". Other teams' PO works as a designer who does not actually "code" their requirement. –  Charlie Oct 23 '11 at 13:40

As a programmer (assuming you are a good one) you will be invested in your code. As a owner or manager you need to be invested in the product.

These are not always the same thing. And when they are not you will have big problems.

I've always said that the role of a good manager is to block the crap from above and to steal my code away from me when it's good enough. Without a manager I could work on a single function for the rest of my life, forever improving it.

Owners need to look at the big picture, programmers need to look at the details. You can't do both unless you are God!

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I've been in such dilemma(good code and schedule of product) for a long time. I ask this question here because I think I need to chose a role and give up another one to suffer no more. :) –  Charlie Oct 23 '11 at 13:50
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Actually, as a good developer I believe you should also try to see the big picture. However, it's difficult if you are deep into detail work, hence the need for POs/managers. –  sleske Nov 22 '11 at 8:05

As it's defined in traditional Scrum, there isn't a problem with a Developer also functioning as a Product Owner. However, you do need to take care when planning to account for anyone who is performing their role part-time, either because they are working on multiple projects or because they have multiple roles on the same team. In your case, you can not count yourself as a full-time developer because you need to budget time in each iteration to perform the duties of the Product Owner.

I think that you also have a misunderstanding of what the Product Owner does. It is not your responsibility to choose which features go into an iteration. Instead, it's your job to be the voice of the customer on the project, when it comes to introducing new stories, assigning priorities to these new stories, and ensuring that the implementation of each story is acceptable through the creation and execution of acceptance tests. The choice of stories is based on the velocity of the team and the prioritized backlog, not by how many stories the Product Owner wants to implement.

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Interesting that I'm giving advice to a guy named Charlie, (My name is Charles) but I do have some experience in dual-roleing as a dev/PM, and in my experience, it's VERY easy to get too wrapped up in one role or the other.

If you're able to keep on top of both roles, by all means do so, but budget your time, and keep context switching between those two roles to an absolute minimum, especially within a single day.

Ideally, I would recommend that you avoid mixing these roles, as they are, as you have noticed, quite a bit in conflict with each other.

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I pick "Charlie" as my English Name because it's easy to remember and common used. In the TV episode "LOST" a guy named Charlie and he is so into a girl named "Claire"(My girlfriend's French Name :) I have no idea about the meaning of this name and relation to "Charles". –  Charlie Oct 24 '11 at 9:43
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The problem is that I'm a programmer type person, and love to do some coding work. So switching between those two roles is hard for me. In our project, PO's daily schedule includes a meeting called "Daily Review". It happens at 5:00pm every day, it's a terrible thing to leave half your code in the IDE and come back to finish them up later... Except this unavoidable meeting, communication between 4-5 Game Feature Team cost a lot of daytime and interrupt my work. I can only think and write some code at night when others are gone. –  Charlie Oct 24 '11 at 9:53
    
Charlie is a nickname for Charles, the name I used primarily as a child, and still use among some friends. –  SplinterReality Oct 25 '11 at 1:10
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You need to really avoid thinking of this transition in the way you are doing now. It may not be development work, but it's an important part of getting things done, and you need to ensure you make adequate mental space to address the tasks before you. That probably means you stop programming well before 5pm in order to prepare for the meeting, and shift gears to your new role. You should yejoyce in doing it! You are making this project progress, even if your tasks are not purely at the code monkey level anymore. –  SplinterReality Oct 25 '11 at 1:27

Almost always a bad idea. We had a project manager who was a product owner and that was conflicting enough.

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I understand the general balance problems between the two roles, but what I don't understand are your specific concerns.

Development is only a full time role if you make it so. If you count yourself only as 50% during sprint planning (when counting up all developer-hours/days available), you should have plenty of time left for your PO duties.

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