Unresolved Proxy

Unresolved Proxy
: Conceal weak Product Ownership by distributing it

Proverbs: That which is owned by everyone ends up being owned by no-one

Motivation: Multiple stakeholders can have an interest in a product and each may only be able to articulate the requirements in their area. Consequently a senior product owner may be tempted to delegate ownership to multiple proxies.

Structure: A development team tries to negotiate a Sprint Backlog with a Product Owner. However, the PO is represented by multiple proxies and it is unclear which one has authority over the Product Backlog and the backlog items which are to be negotiated.

Applicability: Unresolved proxies can be found where Product Owners do not exercise authority or control over the Product Backlog or how it is represented. They are especially common in projects where multiple stakeholders consume a service, such as that which may be provided by shared components or middleware.

Consequences: Sprint Planning will be compromised as it is unclear which proxy represents the Product Owner and has authority to negotiate a Sprint Backlog. Increments are likely to be of low quality if the team do not know who to consult with regarding the approval of work. The Definition of Done may be unclear.

: Scrum does not provide for proxy product ownership, although it is widely used and misapplied in a Scrum context. DSDM provides for several business roles which can reduce to unresolved ownership of a backlog (Prioritized Requirements List) unless discipline is maintained. XP mandates that the team liaise with a clear customer role and hence proxying is effectively forbidden.