Product Owner

The Product Owner is the Team member who knows what the customer wants and the relative Business Value of those wants. He can then translate the customer’s wants and values back to the Scrum team.

The Product Owner must know the business case for the product and what features the customers wants. He must be available to consult with the team to make sure they are correctly implementing the product vision. Most importantly, he must have the authority to make all decisions necessary to complete the project.

The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing return on investment (ROI) by identifying product features, translating these into a prioritized list (Product Backlog) deciding which should be at the top of the list for the next Sprint, and continually re-prioritizing and refining the list (Refining the Backlog). The Product Owner is responsible for the product vision, the business plan, and the revenue or cost savings generated by the business plan. This person spends half of their time working with customers and stakeholders and the other half working with the Team implementing the Product Backlog.

The Product Owner is responsible for determining the highest-business-value lowest-cost items for each Sprint, i.e. developing ordering the backlog in a way that maximizes value, and delivering backlog in a Ready state at the beginning of each sprint.. The Product Owner is the only person who has full and final authority over the project. In multi-team programs, this one Product Owner may delegate work to a representive on subordinate teams, but all decisions and direction come from the top-level, single Chief Product Owner. An adequate Product Owner needs to meet these minimal requirements:

Knowledgeability: If the Product Owner does not know the market, the customer, the product, and the competition, the team will lose confidence in their leadership. This will lead to slow down and disagreement over priorities. It is not possible for a new Product Owner to know everything. They need help from management and the team to ramp up their capability. This needs to be built into their job description.

Availability: The best Chief Product Owner is often a business leader (like Steve Jobs). The Product Owner spends half the time working with the customer and the market and the other half working closely with the team. If the business leader has to be part-time, she or he needs a full-time Product Owner to do the day-to-day work. Failing to do this will lead to problems like the one described above. The customer will not like the result, and more work will need to be done. It is cheaper to hire a Product Owner than deal with the damage later.

Decisiveness: The Product Owner owns the final decision on the ordering of the Product Backlog. Failure to do this will cause priority conflicts and cut team velocity in half. It is cheaper to hire a new Product Owner than to let this happen. This means the Product Owner needs the confidence of the stakeholders (and the team). If they don’t have it, they can’t do the job.

Accountability: The Product Owner owns the business plan and is accountable for driving revenue (or whatever value your organization is producing). It is not helpful for a hyperproductive team to deliver many features if the revenue per point is minimal. The Product Owner should be measured on revenue per point and how much the revenue per point is increasing over time

Pattern:

Product Owner 

The Scrum Pattern Language of Programming :  The PLoP movement codifies well know Agile practices that have been successfully implemented many times.

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