The Product Owner is the representative of the customer; they own the vision and align everybody behind it. They are a visionary leader who is able to disrupt the market place and they are able to work with the team to bring value to their customers.
They are responsible for:
- What problem needs solving,
- Why it is important to solve the problem,
- Who it needs to be solved for and
- When it needs to be solved by
There are three key characteristics that are often in balance when looking for the ideal Product Owner.
They are trusted by their organisation to own the Product, this means they are the final decision maker on where to invest money. They are held accountable for the value that they create for their customers and ensure a fabulous return on investment.
Business Domain Knowledge
They understand the market and what products and features will bring value to their customers. This knowledge helps them make better decisions about what to invest in. This business domain knowledge is also invaluable to the team and they work with the team to help them better understand their customers.
They own the Product this is certainly a full time endeavour, and they need to spend time with the team helping them to understand the customer and clarifying their needs. They also need to spend time with customers and stakeholders.
Finding somebody with the authority, the right business knowledge and the time to do the job spending time with both customers and the team can be difficult and requires skill. Usually time needs to be invested in growing these people.
They are a visionary leader who is able to work strategically:
- They understand how to disrupt their market and create value
- They understand the organisational strategy and how their product(s) fit within that
- They own the future direction of the Product (roadmap and release forecast)
- They analyse what competitors are doing in the market
- They commission experiments to validate assumptions about the marketplace, creating hypothesis and testing them
- They think not only about what their customers need now, but what they will need tomorrow
- They own the budget deciding where money should be invested
- They can stop a project if they realise it is not going to give a good return on investment
They work with stakeholders aligning everyone behind the value proposition:
- They constantly socialise the vision, in order to help everybody align to the value proposition
- Takes feedback from internal and external stakeholders, to understand the changing needs of the business
- Able to say ‘No’ to stakeholders, when their feedback doesn’t align to their vision for the product
- Prioritises work in the Product Backlog, so that it maximises value
- Becomes a focal point for stakeholders
- Brings stakeholder alignment where different opinions are held
They work with the team to bring the value to the market:
- Works with the team to break down slices of value that can be delivered in small increments
- Proposes the goal for the next Sprint, however listens to the team on what is achievable, in order to avoid pressuring their team beyond a sustainable pace
- Available to the team to clarify requirements and give feedback throughout the Sprint
- Can cancel a Sprint if the goal of the Sprint becomes meaningless due to changes in the market or some other business context
- Takes feedback from stakeholders in the Sprint Review and decides what to do with it
- They are the gatekeeper for all work, by prioritising it in the Product Backlog, this allows the team to focus on doing the work
- They manage risk, by testing hypothesis with customers, working incrementally and releasing value early
- Is part of the Scrum team, playing their part in continuous improvement and supporting the growth of the team
The Product Owner is one person, it is not a committee. They are the one decision maker, and the rest of the organisation must respect this. They are ultimately responsible for the success of the Product.
For more great blogs, visit our website.