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Should the Product Owner Come From the Client or Vendor?

We often see a scenario where we have vendors/contractors working with a client to deliver a solution. The questions that I often get asked is should the Product Owner come from the client side or should it come from the vendor side? With the Product Owner role, using the words Product and Owner gives us […]

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July 14, 2017

We often see a scenario where we have vendors/contractors working with a client to deliver a solution. The questions that I often get asked is should the Product Owner come from the client side or should it come from the vendor side? With the Product Owner role, using the words Product and Owner gives us the insights into where the Product Owner should come.

For example, let’s say the Department of Defense engages with NextUp Solutions to deliver a mobile application for the Department of Defense. In this scenario, the Department of Defense will end up owning the product and intellectual property, then the Product Owner should be provided by the Department of Defense and that person should come from as close to the business/stakeholder side as possible. Having NextUp Solutions as the Product Owner could cause issues in NextUp Solutions’ Product Owner’s understanding of true user needs, having authority to make decisions, and potential conflicts of interest.

Now let’s take a scenario where NextUp Solutions has a commercial mobile application that is a product that NextUp Solutions sells. The Department of Defense has approached NextUp Solutions to customize the product for their needs. In this scenario, it is NextUp Solutions’ product and NextUp Solutions is keeping the IP but NextUp Solutions makes some updates for the DoD. In this case, the Product Owner should be provided by NextUp Solutions, since NextUp Solutions owns the Product. NextUp Solutions could think of the DoD as a user, customer, or stakeholder, but not the PO.

Thus as a general rule of thumb, answering who is going to own the Product provides us the guidance on if the Product Owner should be provided by the client or the vendor.

For more information all the Scrum roles and a deeper dive understanding on Agile and Scrum, take a look at one of our upcoming Certified ScrumMaster courses

For more information on Product Ownership and being an effective Product Owner, take a look at one of our upcoming Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) courses.

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