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The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product developed by the team, thus adding value to the business.
The Product Owner also manages the Product Backlog. This could be said to be the basic function of a Product Owner, but as we will see below, it is not the only one.
In addition, the Product Owner represents the stakeholders and works together with them and the Scrum Team.
It is essential that the Product Owner has certain skills (soft-skills and hard-skills) that contribute to carry out his tasks, all of which we will see in the next article.
What is a Product Owner?
The Product Owner is one of the existing roles within the Scrum methodology, and as we have just seen, he is in charge of maximizing the value of the work delivered by the Scrum team, as well as managing the Product Backlog.
He is a single person, not a committee, and in order for him to do his job well, it is necessary that the whole organization respects his decisions.
He must know the customer very well and he must also have a vision of the value that the Scrum team is delivering.
5 basic tasks of the Product Owner
The Scrum methodology guide identifies the following tasks:
- Product Backlog Management: is ultimately responsible for the Product Backlog, this means that he/she must be aware, at all times, of its contents. The rest of the Scrum Team members can add items to it, but any change must be notified to the Product Owner
- Stakeholder Management: the development of any product will involve many stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, even the administration, which is why the Product Owner must work with all of them to ensure that the team is providing value, which implies a great deal of communication between all stakeholders
- Lead the Sprint Planning and Sprint Review and participate in the Sprint Retrospective: during the Sprint Planning you will ensure that all team members are able to define the elements of the product, during the Sprint Review you will be responsible for presenting the team’s development to the stakeholders, and during the Sprint Restrospective you will participate with the rest of the team members to draw conclusions on how the product has been developed as well as what tasks to improve
- Maximize the value of the product: as explained in scrum.org, the Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the developed product, so it is essential that he/she knows the business, the Scrum team and the customer
Skills of a Product Owner
As we have seen, the Product Owner is the mediator between the Scrum team and the customer, carries the product vision and manages what needs to be developed.
These tasks require the Product Owner to have two types of skills: soft-skils and hard-skills:
First of all, the Product Owner must have the following “soft skills”:
Perhaps arguably this is the most important skill. Good communication, as well as empathy, between the Scrum team and the customer is basic for the project to succeed.
But for the Product Owner to do his job properly, it is essential that the team is transparent and works together, if the parties involved do not communicate effectively, the work may not be done correctly.
The Product Owner must have a vision of what is going to be delivered to stakeholders, so he/she needs to have business knowledge and thus have the ability to weigh risks and opportunities.
He must align the vision of the product with the needs of the company, only in this way can the value of the developed product be maximized.
Without this vision, it will be difficult to plan the product to be built for the customer.
It is essential that the Product Owner is always available to the work team. In this way, he/she will know if there have been changes in the Product Backlog, if the development has run aground at some point and thus manage it in order to move forward or if there is simply an incident and be able to solve it.
It is recommended that he attends the Daily Scrum Meeting as a participant, lead the Sprint Planning and the Sprint Review, as we have already explained; this implies a high degree of commitment and, as the Product Owner will probably have other responsibilities, it is important that he commits himself to attend this series of meetings and thus perform his work correctly.
As “hard skills” the Product Owner must have:
Product Backlog decomposition
As we have already seen at the beginning of the article, it is important that you have the ability to prioritize the Product Backlog, for this you must discern between:
- What is essential to bring real value to the product
- What is an enhancement that adds value to the product, although you can, for the time being, do without it
- What are secondary enhancements that should be included when the value-adding enhancements have been implemented
- What are minimal enhancements that add almost no value
En la parte superior del Product Backlog, en resumen, irían los requisitos prioritarios.
Define the concept “Done” or “Finished”
The concept “Done” or “Finished” is used to evaluate when the work on the product increment has been completed.
It is a concept that may vary for each Scrum Team, but everyone must understand what it means that the work is complete, which is why it is defined jointly by the Product Owner and the Development Team.
Knowledge of competitors
We live in a time when a large number of new products are appearing on the market every day, this role must be able to analyze what the company’s competitors are developing and see how his team can create something similar and better. To do this, he or she must also be knowledgeable about the industry and the product.
This will add value to the business and is vital for successful projects.