Last year I did an inhouse Scrum training at a small company, let’s call them SmallCo. SmallCo have had a small team working according to Scrum and they are looking for possibilities to expand the use of Scrum.
As many companies SmallCo are facing challenges int their implementation of Scrum. One of the obvious ones were the role of the Product Owner. Who should they appoint to be Product Owner? How could they make sure this person got the right mandate to fulfil the role? These were just some of the questions brought up.
The role of the Product Owner in Scrum has a number of important responsibilities.
- Creating and communicating a Product Vision
- Represent the stakeholders
- Maximise the Return On Investment (ROI)
- Be available to the team
The Product Owner has the responsibility to create and communicate a Product Vision. The Product Vision is a powerful tool to guide the team, help the team to stay focused and to align the stakeholder. The Product Owner can preferably creat the Product Vision in collaboration with stakeholders and the team if desired.
In order to avoid confusion for the team developing the product we want one channel for requirements towards the team. This i sobtained by letting the Product Owner represent all stakeholders. It is allowed for stakeholders to add items to the Product Backlog. However, it is the sole responsibility of the Product Owner to prioritise and order the items.
The order of the Product Backlog Items should be based primarily on value and cost. That is, the business value of the item and the estimated cost to implement the item. The Product Owner need a good working relation with the stakeholders to fully understand the value of each item. The Product Owner needs to balance the needs of the different stakeholders in order for the overall product ROI to become as high as possible.
It is necessary for the Product Owner to continuously work on the Product backlog in order to keep it evolving and emergent. Being a Product Owner is a continuous effort not a one off activity.
Though keeping the Product Backlog up to date and prioritzed is an important task for the product Owner, it is not enough. The Product Owner needs to attend meetings with the team developing the product and also to be available to the team during the Sprint when the selected Product Backlog Items are being implemented.
By being available to the team during the Sprint the product Owner contributes to increasing the probablity of success and to minimise misunderstandings, misinterpretations and re-work.
To me it is obvious that in order to be a succesful Product Owner you need to be not only decisive but also have the decisional power given to you.
Please comment and write about your experiences.