What will happen if the Product Owner is not available during sprint?

What will happen if the Product Owner is not available during sprint?

Vivek Jayaraman
9th Apr, 2020

The heart of Scrum is Sprint and consists of Sprint PlanningDaily Scrum, Development work, Sprint Review, and Sprint Retrospective. Every event in Scrum has a purpose and every Scrum team member will be part of those events. 

Product Owner’s need is almost there on all the events except Daily Scrum because Daily Scrum is a time-boxed event for the Development Team to inspect and adapt on a daily basis.


In Sprint Planning, the Product Owner proposes the objective for the Sprint and the list of Product Backlog Items that would satisfy the Sprint Goal. The team projects their velocity and the amount of work that they can take to satisfy the Sprint Goal for the Sprint. The Product Owner during the planning helps the Development Team get clarity on the selected product backlog items. 

The Development Team will be able to make trade-offs and negotiate for selecting the PBIs only with the help of a Product Owner. The Product Owner is the sole decision-maker when it comes to Scrum. 

Without the availability of the decision-maker when it comes to What to do, is totally walking in the dark. The Development Team only chooses How to do the work. Without an understanding of What to do, and how to do it, doesn’t matter.


When the development work happens, the team will uncover more challenges in implementing the committed work. More will be learned as and when things are worked out. The Product Owner helps the team with clarity on the PBIs they have chosen to develop. 

The Product Owner also reviews the Development Team’s work and accepts them as and when it satisfies the definition of done. It is a wrong assumption or a myth that the Product Owner reviews the work on Sprint Review. 

Sprint Review is for the stakeholders to review the work and not for the Product Owner. During the work in progress in the mid of Sprint, the Product Owner helps the team in clarifying their doubts with respect to the PBIs. 

Without the Product Owner, the Development Team develops what they think is right. And without the Product Owner to review the work, the ability to inspect and adapt the work delays.


During the Sprint Review, apart from the demo of the product increment by the Development Team, the Product Owner presents loads of things with respect to the business to the stakeholders. 

Potential review of the timeline, budget, product capabilities, the market for upcoming increments or anticipated product functionalities, target delivery dates, and such could not be done without the Product Owner. Their presence is very much important to discuss the current state of the Product Backlog and the target delivery dates.


Sprint Retrospective is a formal opportunity for the entire Scrum Team to inspect, adapt, and create a plan for improvement. If the absence of a Product Owner created impediments to the Development Team in terms of coming up with a “done” Product Increment, this is where it will be discussed and improvement plans shall be made. 

The Product Owner should be part of the Sprint Retrospective to discuss the potential improvements for future Product Increments based on current observations and other discussions related to People, Processes, Policies, and relationships.


So, when a Product Owner is not available during the Sprint, it is one of the great impediments. It will certainly affect the ability of the Development Team to come up with a “done” product increment. If there is no Product Increment at the end of the Sprint, then the Sprint Goal cannot be reached. One leads to another and eventually, nothing can be achieved in the Sprint.


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