Every time I talk with Agile Coaches the song is the same, there is not good Product Owners. What does a good Product Owner mean? Well, it means that Product Owner works full time as Product Owner because most of the times they are Product Owners and Team Leaders for different projects that are following different approaches (Scrum, Kanban, and Waterfall for instance) at the same time. In fact, the overworked Product Owner is a usual fact that as Agile Coach you have to deal with. Most of the time the cause of this issue is because when companies move from the conventional approach to Agile they keep working the bad habits like everybody has to be busy all day long to justify their salary.
Product Owner with more than ten projects
As soon as you read this you should Mario is overreacting or maybe he runs into the worse companies that assign (and consider as well) a lot of projects under only One PO. No, unfortunately, I chatted about this issue with Agile Coach from Canada, US, Sweden, and Netherlands. All of them are dealing with the same situation.
How can you recognize this bad smell?
One symptom is when you ask where are the Product Owner and most of the time you got the same answer, He or She is in a meeting. A couple of months ago I was hired by a client that had the problem of poor management of the portfolio of projects. In a few days, I realized that she was in meetings all day long. I wonder when this overworked lady had time enough to attend Scrum teams that worked with her.
This kind lady told me that she was struggling with sixteen (believe me!!) projects. I strongly recommended to her to talk with her manager (or the man in charge of the portfolio) to prioritize a few projects (at least to reduce her workload) to improve her job. After a while, she told me that she was so happy to deal only with four projects!!!
It was to sad to do a Project Planning where there were many dependencies between features in several projects that nobody took into account until the moment that the guy in charge of the portfolio very angry was to admit that many of the projects had to be on hold until someone remove some of the dependencies in order to start with at least one project.
To conclude, if you are working as Product Owner and you have to deal with more than a project you have to consider all the time you need to meet with stakeholders, and team members (Sprint Planning and Review) plus to map all the dependencies that every new project could have!!!