Planning is an important component of getting work done. Planning is not, however, creating and delivering work. Minimizing the amount of time spent planning but not under planning is almost mind-numbingly difficult. Flow metrics are tools to maximize the value of planning while minimizing the time spent on planning. Over the next few entries in the Software Process and Measurement Blog, we will explore several examples of using flow metrics in planning. 


This week we go back to basics and answer a listener’s question (name and a bit of the context changed to protect the involved parties). In the essay this week we discuss why it is a rotten idea to have a functional product owner and a technical product owner. When it comes to product owners the old adage, “the more the merrier,” does not hold.

Also, we have an installment of Tony Timbol’s “To Tell A Story” column. In this installment, Tony discusses how to synchronize team-level agile with a waterfall requirements process. This is one of those scenarios that when you run into it you will need to find a way to deal with it until more of the organization embraces agile. 

Tony’s Website:


SPaMCAST 684 posts on January 2nd, 2022.  The new year evokes both retrospection and expectations for the future. 2021 was quite the year; SPaMCAST 635 marked the beginning of our 15th year of publishing with a conversation with Johanna Rothman (SPaMCAST 635 – Practical Ways to Manage, A Conversation with Johanna Rothman). That was our most downloaded cast of 2021.  In late August I lost a podcast . . . (a summer rerun), SPaMCAST 668 has attained the status of the Lost Show. Somehow while I was backpacking on Isle Royale the preprogrammed show failed to post.  I have a backup but it is more fun to have a lost cast.  I will rectify the situation at some point when I stop being amused. The year ended with my 12-year-old mixer going to the electronics recycler. The new mixer should be delivered soon. Even with all of the hassle, I have been able to do three great interviews and two related panel discussions that will round out year 15 and kick-off year 16. That’s the long way to say that even though I am struggling through a website issue and a switchover of hardware, I am currently planning years 16 and 17. 

Happy New Year, and now back to our regularly scheduled programming with Tony Timbol and his To Tell A Story column.  This installment tackles product owners and work entry. 


This week we are taking a quick journey into a discussion of prioritization outside of a team or an organization’s span of control. It is easy to confuse influence and actually be able to exert control over an outcome.  Wishful thinking often can lead to frustration. 

Tony TImbol also brings his “To Tell A Story” column to the cast building on the ideas that are central fro good user stores.  Check out Tony’s Product Owner training events at  This week to talk about the product owner’s role in writing and maintaining user stories. 


Today we feature our interview with Vincent Hendersen. We talked about scaling agility up — not the same as scaling agile. Mr. Hendersen and I discussed thinking about agile as a service to align team and portfolio. This is a most thought-provoking interview. The idea of thinking about agile teams as a subscription model shifts the whole agile paradigm.


Today, we feature an essay titled, So I Asked What Is Agile. A simple question that yields interesting answers. One interesting outcome was that answers fit into three categories. We explore the process and people-oriented groups this week. I will come back to the rant category later this month.  


We continue to explore how prioritization techniques can change over the life cycle of a product. Using a simple product life cycle it is easy to recognize the different strategies embraced by product managers and owners. When a product is new, the goal is to establish a competitive advantage and to develop distance from its rivals. Prioritization methods such as, cost of delay and weighted shortest job first can be used to identify features that can get to market quickly, matching the product strategy. In the growth and maturity phases, models such as Kano expose the distinction between features that excite and those that satisfy. The feature mix is a function of which strategy is being pursued. For example, overweighting new features during growth will be useful, however as the product matures more and more legacy functionality needs to be maintained. Maintenance costs increase as more and more legacy functionality is accumulated leading to an inevitable decline. Prioritization, at this stage, leverages impact on crucial clients and/or cash flow to determine what to fix. This why ticketing systems exist and become the primary source of requirements for older products. As products decline revitalization projects/programs are often undertaken in an attempt to resurrect the product — a true cycle akin to rivers in the natural world. So-called next-generation products attempt to shift a product back into the growth phase which requires prioritization techniques again.   (more…)

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SPaMCAST 584, the first interview of our 14th year of the SPaMCAST, features our interview with Allan Kelly. We discussed his new book, The Art of Agile Product Ownership: A Guide for Product Managers, Business Analysts, and Entrepreneurs. The role of a product owner is hard and often misunderstood.  Allan offers practical advice on sorting the role out. (more…)

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SPaMCAST 508 features our interview with Vasco Duarte!  Vasco and I discuss vision and product owners. The product owner role is crucial. To be effective, the product owner must be able to articulate a vision for the product they champion.

Vasco Duarte’s Bio in his own words:

I want to transform product development organizations into product business organizations. I do that by focusing the work of the product development teams on the end-to-end life-cycle of their products. From Concept to Cash and Back!

Currently a Managing Partner at Oikosofy.

Product Manager, Scrum Master, Project Manager, Director, Agile Coach are only some of the roles that I’ve taken in software development organizations. Having worked in the software industry since 1997, and Agile practitioner since 2004. I’ve worked in small, medium and large software organizations as an Agile Coach or leader in agile adoption at those organizations.

I was one of the leaders and catalysts of Agile methods and Agile culture adoption at Avira, Nokia, and F-Secure.

I host a daily podcast where I interview Scrum Masters about their daily challenges and insights:

You can read more from me at my blog:

You can join me on twitter: @duarte_vasco

Re-Read Saturday News

In week 4 of re-read of The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (use the link and buy a copy so you can read along) we tackle Chapter 3, The End Of The Master Builder.  In Chapter 3 Gawande identifies the scenarios in which checklists have an impact.  Checklists provide value even in the most complicated scenarios.

Current Installment:

Week 4 – The End Of The Master Builder (more…)

Map of the Fredrick Half-Marathon

A product roadmap is a powerful tool.  Roadmaps help link products and services to the strategy, objectives and key results.  Roadmaps are directional, answer the question of where we are going and why.  Roadmaps are powerful – unless they are messed up!  There are four common mistakes that will reduce the value of a roadmap. (more…)