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I have just started working with a team that has picked up some aspects of Scrum (two week timeboxing) but not others (the team does not currently agree to all estimates or to the number of points in a sprint, but I'll change this soon.) The product owner is also a technical resource (scientist) with some development background.

Is it appropriate to have the product owner's tasks (which mostly involve research) mixed in with the team's tasks (some of which are research and some development).

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If development tasks depend on it, then I would say Yes. You need it so you can order dependent tasks. –  hvgotcodes Apr 11 '12 at 17:30
    
Is this person writing code? –  JeffO Apr 12 '12 at 1:50
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Experts in Scrum are very firm in stating that the Product Owner and Scrum Master should be two different people. However, there is no such rule excluding either from the Development Team. Note in the Scrum Guide:

Development Team Size

Optimal Development Team size is small enough to remain nimble and large enough to complete significant work. Fewer than three Development Team members decreases interaction and results in smaller productivity gains. Smaller Development Teams may encounter skill constraints during the Sprint, causing the Development Team to be unable to deliver a potentially releasable Increment. Having more than nine members requires too much coordination. Large Development Teams generate too much complexity for an empirical process to manage. The Product Owner and Scrum Master roles are not included in this count unless they are also executing the work of the Sprint Backlog.

The corollary to that last line would be that, if the Product Owner is executing the work of the Sprint Backlog, he or she is counted as a member of the Development Team.

That said, do whatever works to get your work done well.

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Nice catch. I missed that completely. –  user2567 Apr 12 '12 at 11:12
    
Great catch, thanks! –  Lauren J Apr 12 '12 at 23:05
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The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the product's value and return on investment. It might seem simple but it's usually a full-time and very demanding role - arguably the most difficult one in Scrum. It involves a lot of high-level strategic work as well as lower-level tasks, from analyzing market opportunities and consulting the stakeholders and users of the product to make the right decisions, to keeping the product roadmap and backlog always polished, attending planning and review activities, making himself available for the team to answer their questions, etc.

If the PO is in charge of other tasks besides that, I'd only see them as marginal in most cases. So my answer would be yes, create tasks for the PO if you really have to and if they contribute directly to producing the sprint's software increment, but I don't see that happening often in your average Scrum project.

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Scrum is first and foremost about communication, and doing work that is relevant and timely. Anything to further that goal is OK if that's what lets your team be its most productive.

It is difficult to do well, however. I'm in that position now and I find it hard to devote an appropriate amount of time as the product owner while still leaving time for development. However, the arrangement works well for this specific team at this point in time. We'll revisit the decision for me to pull double duty when our performance drops, but until then we'll keep working this way.

So, try it. Do retrospectives so you can continually improve your process. Don't let sticking previously to some methodology get in the way of your team's productivity.

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