Why the Customer Shouldn’t Be the Product Owner

When organizations start to adopt Scrum as their Agile project management framework, they have a tendency to put the customer in the role of the product owner. In this article, Patrick McConnell explains why this is a bad idea and that your client is not your product owner.

This type of situation results often in the delivery of low-value software and criticism about Scrum. This is due to the fact that the product owner is a difficult and demanding role and that the client already has a full time job. After describing the Product Owner role, Patrick McConnell discusses in his article the skills and commitment necessary to be a good product owner.

Some solutions suggested to this issue in the article and the comments are:
* provide a product owner from the vendor/consulting side, or if you cannot be explicit like this, provide “tactical support” to the product owner
* specify in your development contract some “‘Service Level Agreement (SLA)” clauses that will define the level on commitment required by the product owner
* find somebody in the organization, a business analyst for instance, who has enough knowledge and time to define the priorities in the project

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