My team learned that regularly scheduled meetings with the Product Owner are essential for the Scrum team to clarify and refine requirements. Product owners like everyone else are extremely busy. In the past, we tried to schedule meetings with the Product Owner on an ad hoc basis. The Product Owner needed to adjust his schedule and mind set for the meeting which was more chaotic for the Product Owner. The meetings were always a surprise for the Product Owner. The Product Owner did not know if we would be meeting next week or next month. As such, the Product Owner had a difficult time preparing for the meeting. The Product Owner felt rushed into the meeting.
Here are the advantages of regularly scheduled meetings:
- Dedicated time
- Periodic assess and adapt
With the regularly scheduled meetings, the Product Owner was accustomed to thinking about the project at a specific, dedicated time. The Product Owner could focus on the project. The Product Owner knew when to bring up brewing questions. Being prepared for the meeting became a habit.
At first, we tried to refine requirements by verbally discussing the requirements. This added more confusion because the Product Owner could not visualize the software. For example, we were trying to confirm a complex flow for data entry. If there were errors in the form, where would the application direct the user? Would the application return to the form if there was an error? The Product Owner could not answer our questions. Therefore we presented our work in progress to aid in the discussion. The Product Owner loved to be able to touch and feel the application before answering our questions. The Product Owner could change the direction of the implementation while meeting the Sprint goals.
Occasionally, the Product Owner would request features that were outside the scope of the Sprint. At these times, someone from the team would remind the Product Owner about the Sprint goals and that the team is committed to fulfilling the goals. The Product Owner can choose to either cancel the sprint or to prioritize the new work into the Product Backlog and let the team continue on its way.
In the end, the Product Owner loved seeing snapshots of the application and the team obtained the answers that they needed. This was a great win-win situation.