...you have Product Owner in your organization. You might have other roles such as sales manager, product manager, etc as well.
If the team communicates directly with the customers, then it is hard to keep focus on priorities (Figure 1). In addition, the customer playing the product owner role, is very likely to disrupt team during the sprints. On the other hand, if there are too many links between the team and the customer, there is too much noise and the touch to the customer is lost (Figure 2).
If the chain from the customer to the Scrum team becomes very long (Fig. 2), feedback loop between team and customers slows down. It might be hard for the team to confirm that they are building the right product.
Furthermore, when there are many links in the chain from the customer to the team, there is a lot of noise. Requirements an communication in general from the customer may be distorted or misunderstood when the message gets through to the team.
On the other hand, if there is no man-in-the-middle between customer and Scrum team, the case might be that the Product Owner from the customer disrupts the team constantly. In addition, if the Product Owner is from customer, she/he may not be the correct person to decide which PBIs has the most ROI value.
Get rid of all other roles between the Scrum team and the customer than the Product Owner.
The customer, Product Owner, and team should form 1 - 2 - 3 chain links (Figure 3).
In order to accomplish this, one might need to create Product Owner Team in order to have place for different experts in the organization. This approach also shields the Scrum team from disruption coming from the customer.
Use Chief Product Owner to sustain a single point of accountability for ROI when using Product Owner Team
Author: Veli-Pekka Eloranta