I currently work as a Solution Architect within a Scaled Agile organization. We also have Product Owners who are in terms of the Company a "higher rank" than the technical oversight group that the Solution Architect's belong to. The technical oversight group sets the standards and looks at process improvement ideas. Occasionally, we run into situations whereas the processes, architecture, etc run up against what the Product Owner wants and causes the Product Owner to override the Solution Architect's even with an established RAA for the company, this still occurs.

Within a Scaled Agile framework, are the Product Owners meant to have their role designed in this fashion since they are the "owners"?

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    This question might better suited for our sister site Project Management. But anyway, what kind of problems are you running into? Is the PO asking to drop quality in order to deliver faster, or are they giving architectural improvements a very low priority, or something else? – Bart van Ingen Schenau Sep 4 '18 at 14:13
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau: Both – Solution Architect Sep 4 '18 at 14:14
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    Within a Scaled Agile framework, are the Product Owners meant to have their role designed in this fashion since they are the "owners"? It depends entirely on the organization. Ideally, Solution Architects (strongmen of the technical wing, are never above or bellow managers. They are at the very same level and their votes count as much as those from project managers. And prevails when it comes to technical decisions. Again, ideally, only CTOs should be in a position to overrule an architect's decision. All of these, for the sake of the "separation of concerns" in the project production. – Laiv Sep 4 '18 at 15:27

In neither Scrum nor SAFe is the product owner given control on the implementation details of the solution. They represent the customer needs and they own the backlog of capabilities that need to be built from a product stand-point.

The team should have a Definition of Done that sets the quality expectations for the implementation. The team promises to meet any applicable items on that DoD for any backlog item they take on and the Product Owners promises to give them time to do it.

It is true that it is within their ownership to de-prioritize overall architectural improvement items, technical debt, and other concerns. In my experience, it is never in their best interest as it erodes trust from the team and long-term success of the product. In particular, it leads to technical debt which makes later features cost much more to implement.

There should be a healthy tension between roles. However, like in a game of tug-of-war, if either side is too strong or too weak, everything falls down. If the Product Owner is using organizational authority to dictate "how" the team implements the work, they are working against the intent of Scrum and SAFe and they are probably creating a slew of negative side-effects in the process.

If you want to read more on the intended implementation, I'd definitely look at the Scrum Guide's guidance on the roles in the Scrum Team. SAFe draws from this.

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SAFe has a construct called capacity allocation. It means each agile release train needs to allocate certain percentage to Enables and certain percentage to features. for example the train may have 70% features and 30% enabler capacity allocation. The Product Manager is in charge of defining features and architect is in charge of defining enablers. and together they must sequence and prioritise the program backlog. then each sprint the product owners within the teams decide what to implement during that sprint. I have written a blog simplifying a list of roles, artefacts, and ceremonies of SAFe Agile. it may be helpful pointing you to the right direction. please read on product manager and architect

Product owners usually report to product managers (not necessarily though). and architects are usually same level as product managers.

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