Scrum Pattern Library

The following Pattern is an excerpt from Exploring Scrum: Patterns that Make Scrum Work, which is a work in progress written by Dr. Dan Rawsthorne. Download the latest version on LeanPub.

Pattern: Business Owner

So, we have the Development Team and the ScrumMaster taken care of; what we’re missing from the Scrum Team is the Product Owner. The Business Owner I describe in this Pattern is the simplest version of a Product Owner.

Problem:

There is too much work competing for your Well-Formed Team‘s time.

Context:

You have a Team, with multiple Stakeholders (or one very conflicted Stakeholder) that have many Items they’d like your Team to work on. Your Team cannot do them all at once, and there is confusion about what to do next.

Solution:

Have a person, called the Business Owner (BO), who sits between the Stakeholders and the Team, who:

  • Prioritizes/orders the work the Stakeholders want into a single Value Stream, and
  • Moves the Items from this Stakeholder‘s Value Stream to the Team‘s Work Stream at a rate that will not overload the Team.

Business Owner Scrum Pattern

In addition to being Accountable for the above, this Pattern also requires the Business Owner to be Accountable for understanding the Acceptance Criteria for any Item that is put on the Team‘s Work Stream. We say that the Business Owner Represents the Stakeholders and manages the Value Stream.

Discussion, including examples:

Let me discuss this Business Owner concept with some of the Well-Formed Teams I introduced before:

  • The Business Owner for my plumber Jerry is his Office Manager, who gets the calls from Clients describing what work needs to be done, and schedules them on Jerry’s Work Stream (his ‘Job List’), hoping that Jerry is not overloaded on any given day. If Jerry can’t get it all Done, then the Office Manager rearranges the ‘Job List’ and works with the Clients to ‘make it work’.
  • The Business Owner for the collection of mechanics at a car repair center is the person at the front desk who asks the Car Owner’s what is wrong with their cars and schedules their cars onto the Shop’s Work Stream. the Business Owner also works with the Car Owners to keep them notified of what is going on…
  • The Business Owner for the kitchen personnel in a Restaurant is actually a shared role. All of the Waitstaff/Servers fill out meal tickets and deliver them to the kitchen, where they are put on the Team’s Work Stream, as shown here.

Value Stream Scrum

  • The Business Owner for a Hospital Emergency Room has three parts:
    • the Admitting Desk, who checks in new walk-in patients and puts them in order on the ER’s Work Stream,
    • the Chief Resident, who meets Ambulances at the door, and immediately places emergency cases at (or near) the front of the ER’s Work Stream, and
    • a medical professional performing triage in the waiting room, which allows some walk-ins to be moved up the ER’s Work Stream if their problems are urgent enough.

The second part of the Business Owner‘s job: “Move the Items from this Value Stream to the Well-Formed Team‘s Work Stream at a rate appropriate for the WFT to consume them” is very interesting.

  • Sometimes the Well-Formed Team asks the Business Owner for a new Item when they are ready to start a new one,
  • Sometimes the Business Owner monitors the Team‘s Work Stream and just replenishes it when it looks a little low,
  • Sometimes the Work Stream is populated at a rate based on historical data from the Team — like Jerry’s daily ‘Job List’, and
  • Nomatter what, the rate the Well-Formed Team completes Items from the Work Stream is based on the difficulty of meeting the Standard of Care for the Items being worked on and how many Improvements and Chores the Team is undertaking.

 

The Business Owner is Accountable for the prioritization of the Value Stream and the Business Owner is Accountable for knowing what Item is needed next. We say that the Business Owner represents the Stakeholders and manages the Value Stream. These three things (the Business Owner, the Value Stream, and the Stakeholders) go together. If I see a Value Stream, I assume there is a Business Owner and Stakeholders, if I see a Business Owner, I know there is a Value Stream. And there are always Stakeholders

As you can see, the Business Owner is a good person for the Well-Formed Team to have around, because the BO both prioritizes and regulates the Items coming into the Well-Formed Team‘s Work Stream — thus allowing the WFT to focus on its necessary Improvements, Chores, and meeting the Standard of Care the Items deserve.

If you are interested in learning more about Scrum Patterns, check out this awesome book written by Dr. Dan Rawsthorne called Exploring Scrum: Patterns that Make Scrum Work.