We already use scrum – why do we need Collaborative Business Ownership?

Good Scrum teams are able to realize more and more user stories per sprint. But sometimes the Product Owner can’t cope with that velocity. Collaborative Business Ownership helps you to deliver good quality user stories at a proper pace for everyone.

In a Scrum context the development team frequently delivers software that is high value. A good scrum team develops each time a higher velocity to deliver more in each iteration. In this ideal picture the business is able to create user stories for the team at that same increasing velocity. Apparently, team and business understand each other completely and responds perfectly to each other’s needs to realize valuable delivery.

In practice however, the business people often struggle in generating enougBusiness Discussionh user stories of sufficient quality. Sometimes the development team accepts work not yet properly refined, thus they have to refine it themselves within the sprint. In other occasions a team refuses the work assignments as being not ready to take into development. One way or the other, it slows the velocity of delivering quality software. And the preparation work done by the business people deflates in value (if you are looking for experiences, please google ‘definition of ready’ it results in many experiences and opinions).

There is another assumption in the ideal Scrum picture described above. The development team should be familiar with the business issues the software is meant to support. But if there’s a tiny crack between their image of the business issue and the image the business people have then there is a real risk of realizing the wrong software. This is already mentioned quite long ago currently resulting in the practices ATDD and Specification by Example (see also Liz Keogh’s comments on the history of these).

In the ideal Scrum picture some people make another assumption.: the acceptance by the business people is an isolated action at the end of an iteration. But it is not. This acceptance is the result of a continuous involvement of the business people.
The Collaborative Business Ownership concept strengthens the collaboration of development team and stakeholders on taking responsible action towards the generation and realization of valuable delivery to the business by all people involved. Collaborative Business Ownership (CBO in short) addresses the quality of user stories ready on time, the knowledge transfer from stakeholders to development team and informing stakeholders continuously on the quality of the delivery. It does so, by sharing the ownership of the Business with the development team and the business people.

Within the described matter, one word must be added on the role of the Product Owner. In Scrum this role operates as the authoritative representative of the business also ensuring the knowledge needed by the team. In practice we have seen that this role is not able to convey the (tacit) context of all real customer people involved with the product. Therefore one needs to reinforce the sharing of this knowledge.

So, in addition to applying Scrum we need
• The development team to communicate satisfactorily on business knowledge with all people involved in the software;
• The business people inform themselves timely and satisfactorily on the software currently in development; and
• Just in time work assignments ready for development in the sprint.

Collaborative Business Ownership facilitates these by involving the development team in the generation of work assignments by the business people and involving the real customer people in the development work of the team.

Scrum gives you many clues on the collaboration within the development team but it only implies practices between team and business people.

Concluding: To enhance to use of Scrum, practicing CBO needs you to create options for the involvement for both team and business people. As you may have noticed there exist several practices – for several years now – that imply the CBO concept. If you already practice one of those, please share this experience in relation to CBO! In case you wonder how to enable CBO practices, please leave a note and we will share our experiences with you!

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