This role of Proxy Product Owner is not recognized by Agile methods like Scrum because it brings its lot of contradiction. The Proxy Product Owner will be the right-hand man of the Product Owner when he can not perform all his tasks for lack of availability.
A lot of people contest the presence of a Proxy Product Owner. This role complicates the destruction of the silos between the different poles of the company.
But if it’s not Agile why talk about it?
The Proxy Product Owner is a role that is regularly set up in large companies where Agile methods and old methods of organization that are difficulties to disappear, mix (waterfall, v cycle…).
This role fill a lake generally problematic of good project performance. The PO is barely available for the developers; because it is located on the business side and not in the Scrum team directly.
Indeed, you have read well but in many companies, we can see the Product Owner on the business side because they think that the PO are best person to create the product because they are the ones who know it best.
In fact, it is true but they often do this choice because of the teams isolation.
Indeed the Agile philosophy is not yet well understood. In some cases, the presence of this Proxy Product Owner will allow to go gradually to the agile methods; however, it will be necessary to stop this concept to have the PO on the business side. This step will not really be easy anyway because it imposes a radical change of the organization.
To conclude, this role fills dysfunctions in the implementation of agility; but you have to consider this practice like a lever to advance in the Agile transformation.
Where is the position of Proxy Product Owner?
If the Proxy Product Owner is often the pair of the product owner but more present with the development teams, I advise to put it directly with the Scrum teams.
In this type of configuration where there are several PO, the Proxy Product Owner can be a proxy between the development team and all PO. This configuration is closer to the Scrum.
Proxy Product Owner responsibilities, what is its role concretely?
The proxy Product Owner is often a person much more open to Agile methods or Scrum; he will fill the lack of presence of the PO that has been to the business side.
He will do all meetings related to the project with the Product Owner; and he will be present in all ceremonies of his scrum teams (it is advisable to manage only one scrum team).
This role is not easy to manage. The POO will need to know the business and to have a good knowledge of agility.
If the role is well supported by the Proxy Product Owner, he will greatly help to improve the progress of the projects. In fact, he will be almost the official PO of the scrum team (except perhaps on the choice of priorities where he will not be 100% independent).
The proxy Product Owner, a brake to become full agile?
This question is totally legitimate. Add this role of Proxy Product Owner in an organization will bring many positive aspects; however that will not unlock everything.
Companies operating in this way did not intend in the short term to change their entire organization; this role has no impact on this desire for change.
Now, the difficult task of agile coaches will be to have this transitional role temporarily; the goals will be to move toward agile transformation that is rather difficult in a number of companies.
Usefull link : definition in french