Skip to content


Upcoming Agile Events

Recurring Events:  1st Tuesday-North Meeting  : 3rd Thursday-South Meeting

07/17

 [South] Mob Programming – Like a Boss!!! - 6:00 pm @Infusionsoft  (Google Map)

08/05

 [North] TBD – 6:00 pm @Axosoft  (Google Map)

10/28 – 10/30

 Scrum Coaching Retreat Raleigh, NC

 

Posted in Meeting Announcements.


[South Meeting] July 17th: Mob Programming – Like a Boss!!!

Where:
Infusionsoft    (Google Map)
1260 S. Spectrum Blvd.
Chandler, AZ 85286

Cost:  There is no cost to attend this session, and the food and beverages are provided by our Sponsor(s).

Agenda:
6:00 -  Registration – Food and Drink (no cost – Infusionsoft is Sponsoring)
6:25 -  Announcements
6:30 -  Begin the Panel
8:00 – Closing Messages and Announcements

Please Register - If you are already a member of the Phoenix Scrum User’s Group, you have already received an email about this event, just select the “Registration Link” in that email.  If you have not received that email, please sign-up (on the right), and we’ll get it out to you!!

Topic Overview:  Mob Programming – Like A Boss!!!

What can be better that two programmers working together to solve a problem?  A “mob” of people working together to solve a problem!!!

Mob programming is pair programming on a team scale.  With Mob programming, an entire team can be focused on one task at time.  Come learn about our efforts to implement the mob-programming coding practice.  We’ll cover the complete background:  how we heard about it, how we adapted it to fit our team, the experiments along the way, and what we have learned.  We will answer questions like how does this practice affect productivity?  Can you maintain the same velocity with the entire team focused on one task at a time?  Can the team stand to work together all the time. . . . and/or do they like working together all the time?   But most importantly – what IS that smell?  Some of the answers will surprise you!

Speaker Bio:  Andrew Miller

Development Manager at Infusionsoft. (more bio coming)

Speaker Bio:  Ross Beamish

Senior Software Developer at Infusionsoft. (more bio coming)

Posted in Meeting Announcements.


[North Meeting] Scrapyard to Interstate – Applying lean principles to product development

Where:  Axosoft    (Google Map)
13835 N. Northsight Boulevard #205
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Cost: Free. All PHXSUG meetings are Free.

Agenda:
6:00 -  Registration – Food and Drink (Sponsored by Infusionsoft - http://www.infusionsoft.com)
6:25 -  Announcements
6:30 -  Begin the Meeting
8:00 -  Closing Messages and Announcements

PLEASE REGISTER - If you are already a member of the Phoenix Scrum User’s Group, you have already received an email about this event, just select the “Registration Link” in that email.  If you have not signed-up yet, please sign-up (top right of this page), and we’ll get an email out to you!!

Topic Overview: Scrapyard to Interstate – Applying lean principles to product development

A quick dive into some favorite principles from “Product Development Flow” along with an explanation of how the speaker has applied them in the past. Lecture with activities. Questions and answers.

Speaker Bio: Mike Badgett

Mike Badgett is a scrum master and has also filled the role of software engineer, tester, product manager, and party planner. He is a proponent of doing whatever it takes to “deliver valuable software to the customer” and using the unique tools in the agile development toolbox to get there.

Posted in North Meeting.


[South Meeting] June 26th – Agile Developer Panel

NOTE the date change from 6/19 to 6/26

Where:
Infusionsoft    (Google Map)
1260 S. Spectrum Blvd.
Chandler, AZ 85286

Cost:  There is no cost to attend this session.  It’s a free event.

Agenda:
6:00 -  Registration – Food and Drink (no cost – Infusionsoft is Sponsoring)
6:25 -  Announcements
6:30 -  Begin the Panel
8:00 – Closing Messages and Announcements

PLEASE REGISTER - If you are already a member of the Phoenix Scrum User’s Group, you have already received an email about this event, just select the “Registration Link” in that email.  If you have not received that email, please sign-up (on the right), and we’ll get it out to you!!

Topic Overview:  Agile Developer Panel

On March 20th, we held a Product Owner Panel. That meeting was full of interest and discussion. This meeting will be very similar, except the panel will be loaded with Agile Software Developers. We’ll talk with 4 developers about their experiences on agile teams. Fortunately, we were able to get Developers from same companies as the product owner panel – Pearson, Infusionsoft, and Axosoft; plus we’ll have a fourth developer from Liberty Distribution!  We’ll hear about their biggest challenges, and also what helps make their job easier. We’ll also hear what helps their teams be most productive and produce better products – and what are the biggest detriments to productivity. Our goal is to have some real discussions with real developers who do the job. The moderator will ask a few questions to get things going…and then turn the questioning over to the audience. This will be a great opportunity to hear from developers (from different sized companies) about things that work and don’t work.

Panel Member: Sri Surukuntu, Pearson

In 2006, after completing his Masters in Germany, Srikanth Surukuntu landed in USA. Ever since that day, he has been working as a Software Developer in Arizona.

Throughout his career in Software Development, he has worked in diverse teams. At one point, he worked in a team that had a person from Venezuela, a person from Pakistan, a person from Nigeria, a person from India, and few people from USA. He has also worked in varying team sizes – in teams as small as 3 members to as large as 15 members. He has used both agile, non-agile, and mixed methodologies to develop software.

He loves to have diverse experiences. Sri recently started working as a Scrum Master cum Developer. He is finding the Scrum Master side of the things very fulfilling as well. He is passionate about making great products, and he loves working with ambitious and compassionate people.

Panel Member: Dan Suceava, Axosoft

Dan is a software developer at Axosoft.

Panel Member: Jake Griffin, Liberty Distribution

Jake Griffin graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Systems Engineering. He has worked in the Software development field for about 8 years. His professional career began at the Salt River Project (SRP), then transitioned to General Dynamics C4 Systems, and finally, for the last 3 years, to Liberty Distribution, where he was first exposed to Agile Scrum and Paired Programming, among other XP practices. He has since obtained Scrum Master Certification to aid in his understanding of Scrum, while working on a successful Agile Scrum team as a software developer.

Panel Member: Roy van de Water

Roy believes that everyone wants to do great things. However, he feels that most organizations have set themselves up for failure by installing the same bureaucracy that they see in the top companies with the well-intentioned but misguided belief that it will help them scale with no cost to innovation. In order to regain the innovation that led to the organization’s initial success, Roy believes they must create teams with members that have trust and respect in each other and the vision of the product, combined with the autonomy to pursue that vision. Roy works with these teams and the organizations around them to make some pretty serious changes to their culture to enable the teams and eventually the entire organization to achieve their potential.

Posted in Meeting Announcements.


6 Simple Strategies for Agile Coaches to Boost Employee Engagement

Where:  Axosoft    (Google Map)
13835 N. Northsight Boulevard #205
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Cost: Free. All PHXSUG meetings are Free.

Agenda:
6:00 -  Registration – Food and Drink (Sponsored by Infusionsoft - http://www.infusionsoft.com)
6:25 -  Announcements
6:30 -  Begin the Meeting
8:00 -  Closing Messages and Announcements

PLEASE REGISTER - If you are already a member of the Phoenix Scrum User’s Group, you have already received an email about this event, just select the “Registration Link” in that email.  If you have not signed-up yet, please sign-up (top right of this page), and we’ll get an email out to you!!

Topic Overview:  6 Simple Strategies for Agile Coach to Boost Employee Engagement

Gallup’s latest Global Employee Engagement survey show that only 13% employees are fully engaged and rest are either not engaged or actively dis-engaged. Traditional Managers and leaders who command a position within organization, usually exercise a  bit of authority, power, as well as resources (rewards, bonuses, recognition, etc) towards engaging people. Leadership experts and executive coaches take a route that usually involves, motivating and inspiring people, building trust, uniting everyone in the organization towards common mission, values, and goals. These work great however, need a lot of time, effort and resources.

Agile Coaches on the other hand, are in different situation altogether. Most of the Agile coaches usually command no power and authority within the organization. Yet, they aspire and commit to missions such as creating highly collaborative, self-organizing and high performing teams, developing learning organizations, helping people change behaviors etc. Think about a team that simply won’t speak up, people who would always show up late to meetings, people who prefer to work from closed door offices, team members who prefer they can do anything but contribute on the team, architects who do not share the architecture details with anyone except the leaders. Oh Boy!! there are many such behaviors that hinder teams and organizations from becoming truly Agile.

In this session, we’ll discuss 6 simple, easy to implement strategies that Agile Coaches or anyone with no power and authority can apply to boost employee engagement, and promote collaboration. The session will be interactive and will involve simple yet powerful activities.

 

Speaker Bio:  Kamlesh Ravlani

Kamlesh Ravlani is an Agile Coach, Evangelist and a Trainer. He trains and coaches young lean startups and teams and leaders within large organizations. Kamlesh is passionate about improving the way organizations function and deliver value to their customers. He collaborates with Agile coaches worldwide, helps organize and faciliates Scrum and Agile events.

Posted in Meeting Announcements.


WANTED: Agile Coach, ScrumMaster, CIO, Janitor, whatever… Making Enterprise Agile Transformation Successful

Where:
Infusionsoft    (Google Map)
1260 S. Spectrum Blvd.
Chandler, AZ 85286

Cost:  All PHXSUG meetings are Free.

Agenda:

6:00 -  Registration – Free Food and Drink (Infusionsoft Sponsoring)
6:25 -  Announcements
6:30 -  Begin the Meeting
8:00 –  Closing Messages and Announcements

Topic Overview:  WANTED: Agile Coach, ScrumMaster, CIO, Janitor, whatever… Making Enterprise Agile Transformation Successful

The term “coach” has become an overloaded and almost meaningless term in much the same way that “agile” has.  Many individuals are calling themselves coaches who have little or no practical experience with Agile in large enterprise organizations.  Organizations are confused about who they really need to bring success to their Agile transformation, and thus, are advertising for the wrong skills.In this session, we will talk about the distinction between the various roles in a successful Agile transformation and what characteristics accompany those responsibilities.

Speaker Bio: Daniel Gullo
Daniel is a Certified Scrum Coach and Certified Scrum Trainer for Solutions IQ.  Checkout his Scrum Alliance Bio by clicking here.

Posted in South Meeting.


[North Meeting] May 6th – The Story of the Story

Where:  Axosoft    (Google Map)
13835 N. Northsight Boulevard #205
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Cost: Free. All PHXSUG meetings are Free.

Agenda:
6:00 -  Registration – Food and Drink (Sponsored by Infusionsoft – http://www.infusionsoft.com)
6:25 -  Announcements
6:30 -  Begin the Meeting
8:00 -  Closing Messages and Announcements

PLEASE REGISTER - If you are already a member of the Phoenix Scrum User’s Group, you have already received an email about this event, just select the “Registration Link” in that email.  If you have not signed-up yet, please sign-up (top right of this page), and we’ll get an email out to you!!

Topic Overview:  The Story of the Story

There is a lot of discussion around User Stories, and it is probably one the most frequently used words in any Agile team.  How well do our Agile teams really understand the user stories?  What views do they have about user stories, and what aspects of the user story do they care most about?

In this session we will discuss User Stories, and we’ll do some activities that help us explore how User Stories can help team members see them from a new perspective never thought of before.

Speaker Bio:  Kalpesh Shah

Kalpesh is a friendly neighborhood Agilista and Agile Practitioner. As a Scrum Master and Agile Coach he helps teams collaborate , enhance creativity, and become more self-organize and high-performing. As a monk on a spiritual journey, he is also on a journey of discovering/learning different agile techniques and practices to create better teams and in turn create better products (his version of enlightenment). Kalpesh has over 6 years of experience in creating and working with different shapes and sizes of Agile teams.  He has worked with organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies, helping them in their Agile Journey.

Posted in Meeting Announcements, North Meeting.


[South Meeting] April 10th Scaling with Feature vs. Component Teams to Achieve Fast, Flexible, Flow

Where:
Infusionsoft    (Google Map)
1260 S. Spectrum Blvd.
Chandler, AZ 85286

Cost:  All PHXSUG meetings are Free.

** Please note the date change. April South Meeting has been moved up by a week to April 10th.  **

Agenda:
6:00 -  Registration – Free Food and Drink (Infusionsoft Sponsoring)
6:25 -  Announcements
6:30 -  Begin the Meeting
8:00 –  Closing Messages and Announcements [Wait till end to find out if you are the lucky one to get a complimentary copy of Essential Scrum, Ken' book ]

Topic Overview:  Scaling with Feature vs. Component Teams to Achieve Fast, Flexible, Flow.

Using agile with one team and one product backlog is straightforward. But, how do we scale to support larger products/projects that involve more people than can reasonably fit on a single team? Many organizations frequently choose to structure their teams at scale using the strongly held opinion of some individual or group in a position of authority.
For example, many large organizations that I encounter have historically organized teams around skills, geography, architectural layers, or components (reusable pieces of technology). They are familiar with these “proven” approaches and see no reason to migrate to a different pattern when scaling with agile. This can be, and frequently is, disastrous for these companies. For example, many organizations that I encounter heavily favor component teams at the expense of feature teams (a team organized around the delivery of a set of features). In these organizations, the highly interdependent nature of component teams can significantly block the work (frequently up to 90% of the time or more).
That doesn’t mean, however, that these scaling approaches are inherently wrong or should be eliminated altogether. For example, it is common to see agile practitioners overreact to the problem of too many component teams by recommending the elimination all component teams, which can be equally harmful to the bottom line. Sometimes having a component team that owns a particular asset area is economically the proper solution.
How, then, can organizations determine if one scaling approach is better than another? Given the diversity of organizations and the work that they do, it would be naive to assume that one type of team is always superior to another in all situations. In this session I describe and then apply an economic framework for making informed tradeoffs when considering whether to scale with component teams, feature teams, or a blended model. By considering the economic consequences of our choices, we can address multi-team waste and better achieve the fast, flexible flow of features while maintaining the integrity of core components.
Learning Objectives:  
  • Be able to return to their organizations and make informed team scaling choices that appropriately balance tradeoffs
  • Understand the importance of fast, flexible flow as an overarching goal when designing teams structures at scale
  • Learn to apply an economic framework for evaluating whether one scaling solution is better than another (e.g., provides better fast, flexible flow characteristics)
  • Understand the issues and benefits of feature and component teams to better appreciate how to use each appropriately to achieve fast, flexible, flow
  • Understand the benefits of blended team solutions
  • Understand scaling patterns for how to maintain the conceptual integrity and reusability of components even when component teams are lightly used
** Please note the date change. April South Meeting has been moved up by a week to April 10th.  **
Speaker Bio:  Ken Rubin

Ken is Managing Principal at Innolution, a company that provides Scrum and agile training and coaching to help companies develop products in an effective and economically sensible way. A Certified Scrum Trainer, Ken has trained over 20,000 people on agile and Scrum, Kanban, Smalltalk development, managing object-oriented projects, and transition management. He has coached over 200 companies, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 10.
Ken was the first managing director of the worldwide Scrum Alliance. He is the author of the Amazon #1 best-selling book Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process. He is also the creator of the Visual AGILExicon®, a freely available set of vibrant, four-color icons for composing graphically rich and visually appealing three dimensional representations of agile and Scrum concepts.

Posted in Meeting Announcements, South Meeting.


[North Meeting] April 1st – Make Agile Games

Where:  Axosoft    (Google Map)
13835 N. Northsight Boulevard #205
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Cost: Free. All PHXSUG meetings are Free.

Agenda:
6:00 -  Registration – Food and Drink (Sponsored by Medix – www.medixteam.com/IT)
6:25 -  Announcements
6:30 -  Begin the Meeting
8:00 -  Closing Messages and Announcements

PLEASE REGISTER - If you are already a member of the Phoenix Scrum User’s Group, you have already received an email about this event, just select the “Registration Link” in that email.  If you’ve not signed-up yet, please sign-up (on the right), and we’ll get an email out to you!!

Topic Overview:  Make Agile Games

Games can bring fun to your work. Learn how to create your own Agile games using the PLAID Framework.

http://tastycupcakes.org/2011/07/agile-game-incubator-agile-games-2011/

Learning Objectives:

* Learn how to use the PLAID framework to easily create Agile games

* Create your own game

* Have fun

Speaker Bio:

Jade Meskil

Jade is passionate about transforming organizations of all sizes to recognize and embrace the latent power of their greatest resource – people. His success is build upon a foundation of maintaining trust, understanding the needs of individuals, and enabling teams to succeed on their own terms.

Jade offers clients his deep knowledge of Agile methodologies, team and individual behaviors, facilitation, organizational management, as well as a breadth of knowledge in technical best practices and disciplined software development.

Posted in Meeting Announcements, North Meeting.


POST EVENT UPDATE – Product Owner Panel

Hi Everyone,

The Product Owner Panel session seemed to be a relatively hot topic.  We had about 35 engaged attendees.  I also had a relatively large number of people email me and let me know that something had come up and they couldn’t attend. Every “I can’t attend” email asked if we could post notes or blog posts.  In the past, we haven’t done it because I’m usually simply too busy to be focused on taking notes, and this time was no exception.  However, after this meeting, I asked if anyone had taken notes to please send them, and I’d post them on the site.  Great News!  It’s like having “guest reporters!”  I received a couple sets of notes, so I’ve posted them below (if I get more notes later, I’ll post them also).

A special thanks to our “guest reporters” Allan Dean and Dave Woodbury.

From Allan Dean

Q:  What’s the hardest thing to do as a Product Owner?

A1:  Say no.

A2:  Drowning the puppies (i.e. letting your favorite features go).

Q:  What about a Product Owner’s AKA (Authority, Knowledge, Availability) – how important are they and can any be learned?

A:   Yes – can learn to be more Knowledgeable (about the Customer, about the product/service, about technolology, about methodology and process).

A:  Yes – a product owner needs and has authority, but it’s largely informal authority.

A:  Yes – availability is critical.  As product owner you must be available to the team, and be careful about taking on even little extra jobs in/around product launch (release) dates.  Chat and email is not the same as being right there with your team.

Q:  Annual release versus continuous release (iterative approaches) – what drives an organization to appreciate and adopt a continuous release approach?

A:  Long story short – a burning platform.  When faced with customers needing relief right this minute and your product team is faced with a new crisis plus a backlog of 6,000 defects aged over 3 years… delete them all, start fresh with what matters most to your customers in terms of delivering value to them today.  Do that… release that feature.  Then evaluate again, and do the next most valuable bit.  Dig yourself out of “the red zone” (as a team) and with several iterations significant progress is made… and BTW a new process (iterative, continuous release) has begun.

Q:  What’s your process (or filter) for moving from an initial ask for “X” to a prototype?

A1:  (long and complex)
A2:  I ask myself – Is “X” a major change or a minor tweak for us?  Is “X” something our customers are doing already (with our product), or something they can’t do yet (i.e. an unmet need)?

A3:  Prototyping… 1st start conversation in the simplest, easiest form… “on paper”, then in “low fidelity” …even just clicking thru…, then move it up to “high fidelity” (detail).

Q:  What do you do as Product Owner when there is a disconnect between the customer (market) and your company’s product (service) offering?
A:  Data! Data! Data!  #1 Go talk to the customer and listen.  Find the voice of the customer.  #2 Get the data.  #3 Interpret the data (make meaning).  #4 Then tell your “story” that makes the data meaningful and influences your stakeholders (i.e. brings them together, like a Venn Diagram).

Q:  What’s your data collection process like?
A:  Conversations, lots of them.  Some techniques:
i.  Try out a “Hello email” to your existing customers that are 2yo…

ii.  Have internal stakeholder conversations with other departments… customer/field/product support, help/service desk, sales win/loss analysis (When and why do customers walk away?  When and why do we not win new customers?), and marketing (where is the market going; competitive forces; our market’s dynamics).

iii.  Use satisfaction surveys and polling with your customers.  NPS – net promoter score (identify your attractors and distractors).

Q:  What does a Product Owner do?  Who would you pick to be a Product Owner?  What do you look for in a Product Owner?

A1:  They discern “the What” (is to be developed).  They define the “Use case” for it.  And they establish “the definition of done”.

A2:  They play well with others.

A3:  They are someone committed to nurturing a culture of empowerment… it’s always about the people…  because that’s how you build a high performing team.

Follow up :  Yes – organizational change and process factors in too, but cultivating the right culture is the key.  And it often sounds like… do more with less… lead by example (hard work but it feels better)… get LEAN… accept failure (and iterate quickly).

Q:  Do you actually write the user stories?

A1:  Yes – I write the User Stories.  Writing them, tweaking them, having meetings with senior stakeholders too.  Then I build (groom) the Backlog, and shape the sprint/s.

A2:  After we develop the Solution Design, then come User Stories.  My technique is to 1st draw out the Epics, and then I do Small Stories that I shop (vett) with my QA and these become our User Stories we review for our Sprint/s, then the Backlog (new stuff and drawing in some defect/bug work too).

A3:  I used to write all the User Stories by myself because, “I’m the Product Owner.”  Now I share it with the Team as our shared task.  I throw a “Backlog Party” (for grooming).  I still write the Basic Story (without acceptance criteria), but then the whole team crafts the User Story with acceptance criteria.  Whenever I drift into defining “How” to do it, I stop and take it back up a level.

Q:  What are 3 tips for Product Owners?

A1:  1st – Don’t be afraid to say, “No.”  2nd – Be a Product Owner, not a Project Manager.  3rd – Have fun.

A2:  1st – Get in bed with the Customer (not literally).  Connect with your customer’s story; why does it inspire you?  2nd – Involve the Team early and often.  3rd – Things go much better when you remember these are people (not just a team as a unit – but made of individuals)… so take the time to ask some irrelevant questions and get to know each of them, because your team will become much more capable (builds more trust).

A3:  1st – Live the culture.  2nd – Do “customer development” > leads you to the Data > gives you influence over “unsure stakeholders”.  3rd – If you build the relationship, you can get people to do anything.  It’s always about the people – the ones you work with and the ones you serve.

From Dave Woodbury

Topic: Product Owner Panel
Date: March 20, 2014
Description: http://phxsug.org/meeting/south-meeting-march-20th-product-owner-panel

The meeting opened with a welcome and introduction by Perry Reinert, followed by introductions of and by the panelists.  Perry observed that the panelists represent companies whose sizes range from 40 (Jeff Schinella, Axosoft) to 400 (Sarahjane Isom, Infusionsoft)  to 40,000 (Josey Borman, Pearson).  You can read more about the three panelists Josey, Sarahjane and Jeff here: (http://phxsug.org/meeting/south-meeting-march-20th-product-owner-panel).  The Phoenix Scrum User’s Group meetings are always fantastic, and the 30 minutes of food and drink sponsored by Infusionsoft, followed by 90 minutes of panel discussion was just right for this topic.

Perry kicked off the discussion by asking if anyone had heard of the acronym, AKA which stands for some desirable characteristics of a product owner.  (Authority, Knowledge, Availability) He asked the panelists their thoughts on the acronym and relative importance of each trait.  Sarahjane mentioned that a product owner has to be available to do the things that a product owner must do, otherwise all the knowledge and authority won’t be of much help.  The product owner has to show-up and be engaged.  Josey answered that its difficult to find a product owner with all three traits, but that authority and availability are essential.  A person can always seek out and obtain the necessary knowledge.

After the opening question, the panelists and the audience were warmed up and I noted the following items during each of the panelists’ answers.  I was so busy writing down the pearls of wisdom that I didn’t always note the panelist’s name, so my apologies for any lack of attribution.

1. You might be better off pressing the reset button if your backlog of stories or defects gets to be too large to manage.  As a product owner, you want to lead the team to deliver working, usable releases within a short period of time, and that requires focusing the team on a small number of important things that must get done.  Josey said that she asks people “What is the minimal thing you can do to be successful?”

2. Sarahjane mentioned the importance of the voice of the customer a few times and said that many of Infusionsoft’s customers are looking for the software to help them get a task done as efficiently as possible so that they can move on to other things or go home for the day.

3. I liked Josey’s comment about bringing the big comprehensive product vision down to something really small that the team can deliver into the customer’s hands as soon as possible.

4. Each of the panelists agreed on the importance of data regarding how products are being used to determine priorities.  They said that one of the hardest (and most important) duties of the product owner is to say no to things so that the team can work on the highest priority items.  Having data from and about the actual users of the product is how the product owner can help guide the team and make decisions about what to prioritize in a sprint.  Having good data also enables the product owner to identify benefits associated with new features that can then be shared with executives and other key stakeholders.

5. There was also agreement around the importance of communication. One of the panelists noted that the product owner serves the team well by clearly communicating the status of the project and avoiding minimizing problems or overselling accomplishments.    Keeping people in the loop, building relationships and trust, taking interest in team members as individuals, and recognizing that the product owner is a member of the team with specific roles rather than the manager of the team or a project manager.

6. Josey shared that Infusionsoft has many people looking at the entire user experience of their customers from many perspectives. They gather data via surveys, customer support calls and conversations with customers.  Customers that cancel their subscriptions get special attention.

7. There were questions from the audience regarding (1) how to move oneself into a product owner role and-or how to encourage management to adopt an agile culture and approach to software development (2) How to best support new product owners – e.g., people who are new to the product owner role but otherwise have experience with the company’s products and business processes.  The panelists answers were fantastic but unfortunately I didn’t capture many notes on these!

8. One of the panelists emphasized the importance of following the process on the part of developers, especially when they are asked to work on things in addition to the sprint backlog.  The proper response is for the developer to deflect the requests back to the product owner, but it was noted that this can be very hard if not impossible for some developers.

9. Another panelist, when asked about important attributes of the product owner said that it was less important to be a product expert and that it is best to avoid putting an engineer in the product owner role because invariably an engineer cannot avoid specifying how things must be done.  Instead, teams need product owners who focus on three things: (1) Use Case (2) Problem to solve (3) Definition of done.

10.  Product owners must promote the agile culture of empowerment.  Agile is about people and a product owner needs to be someone who plays well with others.

11. The panelists were asked if they write user stories.  Jeff said Yes, based on data, voice of the customer, and other feedback.  Sarahjane also said yes, but only after detailed design has been completed.  Sarahjane hinted at a meta-process in use at Infusionsoft named POV or something like that, but did not elaborate.  Josey said that it is very hard for a product owner to write user stories. She treats it as a shared responsibility, writing just the basic structure and then working with the team to flesh out acceptance criteria and so on.  This avoids user stories that are essentially “As a product owner I want… “ instead of “As a student I want…” or “As a teacher I want…”

12. Perry asked the last question – “What are a few tips that you would give product owners?” going over a few SUG announcements to give the panelists some time to form their answers. Jeff answered don’t be afraid to say no, and to be a product owner, not a project manager.  Sarahjane recommends that product owners form close relationships with customer, and involve everyone on the team early and often, keeping in mind that the product owner is not a dictator.  She emphasized that everyone is an individual and that it pays to make the effort to get to know everyone on the team, even some of the more introverted engineers that take extra effort to get to know. :-)   Josey said to live the agile culture.  Develop your customers and get data about users.  If you build relationships with people you can get anyone to do anything.

Posted in Meeting Announcements.