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I am learning about Scrum and currently have a basic knowledge. I have a few questions about the role of the Product Owner in the Scrum process:

  1. What is role of Product Owner in daily Scrum, if he/she is part of this meeting?
  2. Product Owner is the person who is customer. A team member can be nominated as a proxy of product owner?
  3. Can we say that a Project Manager who directly interacts with customer is nominated as proxy of Product Owner?
  4. When we use term "External Stakeholders Engagement", are we referring to Product Owner or something else?
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The Product Owner does not have an active role in the daily stand-up meeting in Scrum. He/she can listen in to get a sense for what is going on in the team and how they are doing on their commitment.
The Product Owner should remain in the background during these meetings and not speak up. If the Product Owner has grave concerns, the he/she should take that up with the Scrum Master after the meeting.
If the Product Owner is present, it is possible they get asked for some clarification on some of the stories. Even that should be postponed until after the meeting in order to avoid draw out discussions during the stand-up.

If the actual customer can't be present often enough to take on the role of Product Owner, then a proxy can be nominated. The most important characteristics for the proxy are:

  • They have sufficient insight in what the customer actually wants to convey that vision to the team
  • They have enough authority to make decisions on the spot and to defend those decisions both to the team and to the customer.

Especially the second point usually means that the proxy must be either a very senior developer or someone from management circles.


I am not familiar with the term "External Stakeholders Engagement" (which is not a term used in Scrum), so I can't say definitively how it relates to a Product Owner, but at first glance the aim seems to be the same.

  • Thank you for providing detailed answer. It is quite helpful. – Hassan May 9 '14 at 11:42
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    Sorry, but I find this all very contradictory - "The Product Owner does not have an active role in the daily stand-up ... can listen in ... should remain in the background ... not speak up" ... have enough authority to make decisions on the spot and to defend those decisions both to the team and to the customer." So they have no active Role, but can take decisions. They can't speak up or express concerns – Phill W. May 9 '14 at 12:43
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    @PhillW.: The Product Owner doesn't participate in the daily stand-up, but must make decisions on the stories to implement and how to interpret them outside of the daily meeting. The Product Owner has a very active role in Scrum, but just not during the daily meetings. – Bart van Ingen Schenau May 9 '14 at 15:14
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    I asked our Product Owner to contribute to the standup today and we all learned loads of context about what we were all doing that really mattered to us all. How can that be a bad thing? Im going to have to politely disagree with this - be interested in what you think Im missing ? – HaveAGuess Jul 13 '15 at 10:20
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    @HaveAGuess You don't have to do Scrum to have good meetings. If product owner's participation was a good thing, then do more of it earlier in the process, or regularly throughout the process. Are they giving bonuses for scrum purity? Are customers paying more for it? If not, how high a priority should that be? Just decide how to use your meetings efficiently and adjust based on experience of what works. Less time lawyering process and more time understanding customer problems is generally good for all. – joshp Feb 18 '16 at 19:16
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I'm going to answer the questions in a slightly different order than you asked them, since I think it helps to build up the answer.

Product Owner is the person who is customer. A team member can be nominated as a proxy of product owner?

A Product Owner does not have to be a customer, but simply a representative of stakeholders who has authority to make decisions on the priority of work in the Product Backlog. The Product Owner isn't a technical position. It is a business position. The person in the Product Owner role needs to understand the customer and their needs. After all, their primary function is to write and prioritize the Product Backlog Items, to answer questions and coordinate with stakeholders, and to review the incremental deliveries to ensure that they meet the needs of the users in the intended environment.

One piece of guidance is that the Scrum Master and Product Owner should not be the same person (see here and here for more info). Those roles are at odds with each other. The Product Owner is responsible for driving the business needs while the Scrum Master is responsible for the team. Sometimes, the needs of the business is at odds with the needs of the team.

What is role of Product Owner in daily Scrum, if he/she is part of this meeting?

There's nothing that prevents the Product Owner from attending the Daily Scrum meeting. The Daily Scrum is the opportunity for the Development Team to self-organize around the day's activities and for the Scrum Master to coordinate with the team on what issues need to be resolved to not slow development. There's not much for the Product Owner to do at the meeting, though, other than observe the team. The Scrum Master ensures that people from outside the Development Team who attend the Daily Scrum do not disrupt the Development Team's process for the meeting.

The time immediately following the Daily Scrum can be used for more in-depth discussions among the Development Team members or to adjust the plan for the Sprint. People from outside the Development Team can participate in this activity.

Can we say that a Project Manager who directly interacts with customer is nominated as proxy of Product Owner?

There's no direct mapping between a traditional Project Manager and the roles in Scrum.

I would agree that the customer interaction aspects of the Project Manager role do map into the Product Owner role. However, other aspects of the Project Manager role, such as managing the schedule and budget, are more of a Scrum Master function. Other project management functions, like estimating, managing risks, and internal communication, belong to the entire Development Team.

When we use term "External Stakeholders Engagement", are we referring to Product Owner or something else?

Most likely the Product Owner, yes.

The Product Owner is the person who speaks on behalf of the customers and users of the software being developed. The Product Owner needs to understand their needs to be able to write user stories, answer the team's questions about those user stories should any arise, prioritize the Product Backlog, and more.

The Product Owner isn't expected to know everything, but they do manage communication with the outside world. If they don't have an answer, they know who to engage to get the answer to the development team.

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The product owner is always the proxy to the customer. They could be an actual customer representative, but there's no reason they must be. In fact, there are good reasons for the product owner to not be a customer. The product owner is responsible for distilling the needs of the customer down into stories, they don't have to be the customer. Being a good product owner requires skills that the typical customer likely doesn't have.

I would argue that the product owner should never be a developer, because being product owner is a job in its own right. It can easily be a full time job, and at worst should be a half time job. If you nominate a developer to be the product owner, their development activities will be cut in half or more.

The product owner should have no active role in the standups, but they have an active role in the process overall. There should be a continual dialog between the development team and the product owner. It's just that the standups are specifically for the dev team communicating within itself about the progress toward sprint goals, and nothing more.

The daily standup should be short, and is strictly for keeping everyone informed on how well the team is doing toward sprint goals. It is not the time to ask for clarification, though it is the time to raise the fact that clarification is necessary. Once the standup is over, that is the time for the team to interact with the product owner.

As for your question about external stakeholders, those are people that are not directly involved in the development of the product. They are not developers or product owners, but just about anyone else who has an interest in the product being developed. A marketing team, for example, might be an external stakeholder. It is the responsibility of the product owner to communicate information about the product to that team (when it will be ready, what benefits it provides the customer, etc).

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I would argue the link between product owner and customer is not as explicit as suggested in most answers. The product owner ultimately decides what will be at the top of the backlog and thus what will be implemented in the product. It would not be a good thing it that would be a one-to-one mapping of customer requests (which it often is, which is one of the reasons why many shops screw up with scrum).

The product owner should take into account the long term interest of the product which could mean "No, we will not do that now." or "We will give you something different later that should be just as helpful.".

The product will perish if the customer does not recognize his needs in it. But it will likely become irrelevant if the product owner is not thinking and is only passing on the latest request from the field. The product owner does not primarily represent the customer, he represents the (success of) product.

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