“Ghost in the Project”. Chasing the Product Owner.

Sometimes it is tough to keep calm and be professional. Especially when your project stuck in the middle and what is worse, you know how to get out of this situation, but you don’t have any authority to move further. 

Early afternoon. The call started. You are the only person on the call; however, several people should be already in. You are waiting and wondering if they will show up or not like on several latest meetings. They accepted the invitation, but it doesn’t make any difference any longer. Minutes are passing by, I’m still waiting, and I’m trying to find some positives not to have a feeling that I’m totally wasting my time. Recently, I’m working on naming my emotions, so I’m taking that advantage and start. The frustration wouldn’t be the best description. There are much more picturesque feelings to describe my state like: disappointed, disrespected and unimportance. All of this makes me annoyed.

To achieve success in BI project, the commitment from all parties is needed. Especially from the Product Owner side. The Product Owner is a person who is the mind and the heart of the end-vision of the product. He or she knows exactly what features and characteristics the product must and must not have. In other words, you can not run the project without this Very Important Person. 

There are many things which can be frustrating as lack of data availability, weak engagement of IT department or infrastructure with huge technological debt. But those are issues, which proper approached, can be solved. Missing and uncommitted Product Owner is a real threat to the project succeed. 

So the question is how to influence Product Owner commitment? I won’t deal with that question. I’m not a psychologist. However, there are several strategies which can be used to find a solution from that impasse.

Change the Product Owner

That is the best strategy. In internal projects, people who are the Product Owners in major cases are the same who have “business ownership”. In other words, they are already busy. They don’t have room to take another responsibility on them. Simply as it is. Frankly speaking, within an organization, there are other people who can be a successful Project Owner for your project. If you have the opportunity to switch the Product Owner, do it. From different reasons, you don’t have to remove the former Product Owner from the project. That person will be a precious stakeholder. 

Treat the Product Owner as a Stakeholder

By the way, talking about stakeholders. If there is no chance to change the Product Owner, it is good to set boundaries regarding what kind of decisions she or he has to make. Leave for them only the most important, the most critical decisions. The rest of decisiveness makes within the development team. This approach will reduce the waiting time for approvals and other blocks. Of course, don’t forget to establish those boundaries with the Product Owner.

Find a Subject Matter Expert

If the Product Owner doesn’t have time to help you in designing a product, who else can help? Who can help you prioritize backlog items, answer all development team questions, make those numerous decisions and always support you? It can be someone who works closely with the Product Owner and well-knows the business field in details. And what is more, has time to be present within a project. Another advantage is that in the majority of cases, those people are the end-users of the product, so they really know what they need.

Last but not least. Don’t forget that it is only a job. Take a few deep breaths and after working day, engage yourself in more important things ;).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s