Improving Business Product Owner Commitment in Student Scrum Projects

Corey Baham
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 19  •  2020  •  pp. 243-258

The purpose of this study was to explore and test several improvements for incorporating the Business Product Owner (BPO) role in student software projects using Scrum.

As the popularity of Scrum has grown, its roles and ceremonies have been utilized in student software projects, yet one of the more challenging roles to implement in the academic context is the role of BPO. Consequently, although the BPO role is central to Scrum, this role is lacking in many student Scrum projects.

Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected at a large university in the U.S. to assess the effectiveness of attempted improvements in incorporating the BPO role in 32 student Scrum projects.

This study is among the first to theorize and examine the bottom-up selection of BPOs where team members select their own BPOs as a unique project requirement. This study extends current theory to expand the development team roles when BPOs are unable to articulate requirements during co-creation activities. This study also informs us of the impact of BPO attributes on team member perceptions and it demonstrates how BPO engagement can be improved in student Scrum projects.

The findings suggest that BPO engagement can be improved by (a) formalizing the BPO selection process through time-limiting responses, screening, and contractual agreements, (b) starting the BPO initiation process through co-creation activities (e.g., user story workshop), and (c) expanding the development team’s role in defining and prioritizing features during the BPO execution process through mutual steering.

Based on the findings, practitioners are recommended to educate BPO’s concerning their role and its impact on the Scrum team.

Researchers are recommended to develop and test additional mechanisms to facilitate ongoing BPO engagement.

Higher education needs to explore more ways of involving practitioners in student projects.

Future research should explore ways of reducing BPO attrition in student Scrum projects.

agile software development, Scrum, business product owner, IS education
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