Product Owner is a person who owns the Product and is accountable for its success. Product Owner is often a misunderstood role in the market. Product Owner usually doesn’t have ownership with the Product that they are working on, and they aren’t empowered to make the decisions regarding the Product. They are mostly focused on writing the requirements of the Product that are dictated by them the stakeholder(s). These types of Product Owners are popularly known as the Business Analyst.

Scrum Product Owner is a Role in Scrum and carries the accountability for maximizing the value of the Product / Success of the Product / ROI of the Product by

  • Clearly expressing Product Backlog items.
  • Ordering the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions
  • Optimizing the value of the work the Development Team performs
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum Team will work on next and
  • Ensuring the Development Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.

A person who carries the accountability of the success of the Product must be a skilled person and the:

Skills required for a Scrum Product Owner are

1. Product Management: Product Management refers to the functional department that oversees  product strategy, development, planning, pricing, forecasting, launching, and marketing the product. 

The product management as a skill is helpful in-

  1. Leading product management and performing business analysis and managing the product requirements  in multiple emerging markets.
  2. Building the requirements while communicating between business and developers. 
  3. Building digital product management enterprise tools

2. Project Management: Project Management is the ability to apply knowledge, skills, techniques, and tools to accomplish project goals and fulfill objectives successfully.

It is a 5 step process that consists of- 

  1. Initiating 
  2. Planning
  3. Executing 
  4. Monitoring and controlling
  5. Closing

3. Subject Matter Expertise: Domain knowledge is needed to become a product owner. The Product Owner is not an entry level job. You must have experience in programming, software development, agile methodology, scrum framework, business development, and project management.

Product Owner Strategies

 

Responsibilities of a Product Owner

1. Creating and owning the Product Vision:  Part of the product development team, the Product Owner is the key person responsible for defining goals and creating vision development projects. 

Product Owners are accountable for liaising with stakeholders like customers, business managers, and the development team. This is done to ensure the goals are clear and the vision is in line with the business objectives.

2. Managing the Product Backlog: The product backlog is a list that contains and prioritizes the details of every little task you require to include in your product.

Formulating the list of backlog items and prioritizing them as per the critical business objectives is the responsibility of the product owner. They have to jot down the list of project dependencies to determine the sequence of product development. 

The product backlog is dynamic and will keep evolving as the project requirements change. The product backlog should be made accessible to all the stakeholders and developers for superior performance.

3. Defining the Sprint objective: The Product Owner defines the sprint objective. The product owner defines the suggested sprint objective which will serve as base to determine the sprint goal by the Scrum Master, Scrum Team, Product Owner, and the Development Team.

4. Manage budget, scope, releases, and stakeholders of the Product: The product owner is responsible for managing the money. In addition, they manage the scope, releases, and stakeholders to ensure the project is delivered on time.

5. Review the work done by the development team: The product owner inspects the product increment made by the development team in each iteration. The review is carried out to ensure if the work is as per the product vision. 

If it is satisfactory, then the work will need to be revised by the development team in the future sprints. Pending or incomplete work will be prioritized and sequenced to deliver the expected outcomes from the user stories.

6. Being available to the development team: The Product Owner has to be available to address the development team’s questions and queries regarding the customer needs and point of view to effectively build the functionality.

Agile & Scrum Assessments

7. Effective communication to the stakeholders of the Product: The Product Owner is the central communicator between the development team and the stakeholders. They need to be best communicators to ensure there is approval of the stakeholders for all major decisions and strategies. Clear communication is required to ensure there are instructions and deliverables for the development team.

8. Collaborating with the development team for the Product Backlog Refinement: Product Backlog Refinement is a repetitive meeting where product owners, product managers, and the engineering teams sit to prioritize, enhance, and finalize the items before the sprint planning. 

The Product Owner collaborates with the development team to confirm shared understanding between all the people involved. It is necessary to get an estimate of the size for the difficulty and implementation. 

Finally, the collaboration is done to determine if the items in the product backlog are done based on business value and the efforts needed.

9. Measuring the value of the Product (maybe using EBM): Evidence-Based Management is a framework businesses can leverage to help them measure, manage, and increase the value they derive from their product delivery.

It focuses on bettering outcomes, minimizing risks, and maximizing value.  The Product Owner should use EBM as it guides organizations to take the right measures to make the right investments in the correct places. Additionally, it aids in making smart decisions and decreases risk with the help of an iterative and incremental method.

10. Product roadmap: A Product Roadmap is the long term visual summary of the vision and direction of your product offering with the passage of time. 

The Product Owner owns the product roadmap. It gives an insight into the product’s current state to the internal teams and the stakeholders.

11. Product marketing and sales: The Product Owner works closely with the Product Manager, sales, marketing, and development teams to develop a product that has a right product market fit.

12. Product operations: Product Owner helps in product operations which is easy sharing of resources and data between functional departments in the organization. They work closely with the product operations manager for effective product operations.

Product Owners may choose to delegate his/her responsibilities to operations, finance, marketing sales, or development teams but are still held accountable for their actions and overall successful product.

Be-a-Product-Owner-How-To-Become-One

Author's Bio

A Professional Scrum trainer (PST) from Scrum.org, SAFe® Program Consultant (SPC 4.5) and experienced Spotify consultant with over 14 years of rich experience in building people, Sumeet’s mission drives him to build people and help them learn who they are and how they want to show up in the Agile world.