Empirical Software Engineering

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 1525–1557

How product owner teams scale agile methods to large distributed enterprises


DOI: 10.1007/s10664-014-9322-z

Cite this article as:
Bass, J.M. Empir Software Eng (2015) 20: 1525. doi:10.1007/s10664-014-9322-z


Software development teams in large scale offshore enterprise development programmes are often under intense pressure to deliver high quality software within challenging time contraints. Project failures can attract adverse publicity and damage corporate reputations. Agile methods have been advocated to reduce project risks, improving both productivity and product quality. This article uses practitioner descriptions of agile method tailoring to explore large scale offshore enterprise development programmes with a focus on product owner role tailoring, where the product owner identifies and prioritises customer requirements. In globalised projects, the product owner must reconcile competing business interests, whilst generating and then prioritising large numbers of requirements for numerous development teams. The study comprises eight international companies, based in London, Bangalore and Delhi. Interviews with 46 practitioners were conducted between February 2010 and May 2012. Grounded theory was used to identify that product owners form into teams. The main contribution of this research is to describe the nine product owner team functions identified: groom, prioritiser, release master, technical architect, governor, communicator, traveller, intermediary and risk assessor. These product owner functions arbitrate between conflicting customer requirements, approve release schedules, disseminate architectural design decisions, provide technical governance and propogate information across teams. The functions identified in this research are mapped to a scrum of scrums process, and a taxonomy of the functions shows how focusing on either decision-making or information dissemination in each helps to tailor agile methods to large scale offshore enterprise development programmes.


Agile software development Scrum Large scale offshore enterprise development programmes Product owner Product owner teams Grounded theory 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computing Science and Digital MediaRobert Gordon UniversityAberdeenUK

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