Should a product owner do technical tasks?



  • The Scrum guide says:

    The Scrum Team consists of one Scrum Master, one Product Owner, and Developers. Within a Scrum Team, there are no sub-teams or hierarchies.

    Agile coaches want a team to be cross-functional, for example, that software developers be willing to write automated tests and do manual testing when needed. If so, is Product Owner also supposed to do development and testing? If not, then obviously there is a hierarchy in a Scrum team - a Product Owner shouldn't do other specialists' work while developers should do. It becomes difficult to persuade developers do testing.



  • I can't see any inherent reasons why the Product Owner can't also be a Developer. The Scrum Guide even supports this, saying that in cases where the "the Product Owner or Scrum Master are actively working on items in the Sprint Backlog, they participate as Developers", referring to participation in the Daily Scrum.

    The concern that I'd have is if there's enough time for a person to fulfill both roles while working at a sustainable pace. Work such as developing the Product Goal, communicating with stakeholders to understand their needs and desires, creating Product Backlog Items, communicating changes to the Product Backlog to the Developers, helping the Developers understand the Product Backlog Items sufficiently to carry out refinement, ordering the Product Backlog, making sure that all of the stakeholders understand the current state of the Product Backlog, answering questions or concerns from the Developers regarding work-in-progress. There's a lot of other product management functions, too, in order to achieve the goal of maximizing the value of the work done by the Scrum Team. It doesn't seem like it's a suitable part-time job.

    Even though the Product Owner has a specific set of skills, that doesn't imply a hierarchy in the Scrum Team. Neither the Scrum Master nor any of the Developers should report to the Product Owner. The Product Owner should not be able to tell the Scrum Master or any of the Developers what to work on or how to go about their work. They are simply bringing a special set of skills and experience to the team in order to contribute to the goal of creating, releasing, and maintaining a product.


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