Features on the cutting room floor.

When a collection of people get together to make a movie they use more film that ends up in the movie itself. For sure some of that film contains outtakes and errors which mean that they simply can’t be used, but other film contains perfectly good scenes – so why does it get left out?

The reason is that the director is trying to tell a story and sometimes scenes from the film that they have recorded, whilst related, don’t add value to the overall story.

I see this as an analogy for building the product backlog for a software development project. When the project kicks off everyone involved in the endeavour are going to put forward suggestions for things that can make it into the product. But ultimately you have a target budget (length) that you need to work to and if it isn’t going to add any value then you should cut the feature.

The question is – who is the director? Is the director the person who sold the idea of the project? Is the director the person who is paying for the project? Is the director the person who is using the software? Is the software developer or Scrum Master?

I don’t know, and chances are neither does your peers. This is why in the Scrum process we enshrine the role of Product Owner to help make these tough decisions. The Product Owner is an absolutely critical role on any Scrum Project and this person once identified needs to be given a pair of scissors so that they can make the appropriate cut.

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