Conversing With The Client: Preparing, Summarizing, Reflecting in an Agile Context




In this assignment (originating from a real projects/real clients course using Scrum, but generalizable to other agile methods), the student prepares for her new role as liaison with the client (in the Scrum framework, part of the Product Owner role), summarizes the content of the initial client meeting and the communication context in which it takes place, and reflects on the effectiveness of the communication in the meeting. In the first section, the student conducts self-inquiry into the "unknowns" that could be resolved during the first meeting. Next, the student reads the results of this assignment from previous students who were in the same situation. In the third section, the student reports on the results of the first client meeting by summarizing the prioritized set of tasks to be accomplished for the client (in Scrum, this takes the form of a backlog of user stories). In the fourth section, the student takes a different perspective on the meeting, describing the environment and action of the communication within the framework of a play script. The idea here is to emphasize the importance of non-verbal aspects of communication: where the actors are situated, what props are used, and qualitative aspects of the communication (pace, tone, etc.) Finally, the student reflects on the effectiveness of the first meeting.


Charles Wallace


Product backlog, retrospective

Assignment Duration

Less than a week

Communication Skill

reading, writing, speaking, listening

Technical Skill

Requirements elicitation, requirements analysis

Workplace Scenario

The student has been assigned the role of Product Owner in a development team using Scrum. This role requires sustained, effective communication with the client. As the initial meeting with the client approaches, the student performs activities to prepare herself. After the initial meeting, she produces a backlog of user stories for the team, and she reflects on what communicative aspects of the meeting were effective and which should be changed for the next meeting. Since this work involves a good deal of self-reflection, the author is clearly an audience member. Future Product Owners constitute another audience group, since part of the assignment asks the student to read submissions from previous students.

Team Size


Additional Information

This assignment originated from a "real projects, real clients" course using Scrum. It is applicable to other contexts, but an agile approach and the presence of a "real client" who is not familiar to the students make it interesting. It is really five assignments in one - instructors who do not want to devote the time required for the full assignment may consider choosing portions of it. The emphasis in this material is on the communication aspects of the Product Owner role; for broader material on Scrum, please see the links to Resources in the assignment document.



Charles Wallace, “Conversing With The Client: Preparing, Summarizing, Reflecting in an Agile Context,” Incorporating Communication Outcomes into the Computer Science Curriculum, accessed September 21, 2017, http://cs-comm.lib.muohio.edu/items/show/118.


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