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What is Product Owner's Role in Scrum?

Let’s start right at the beginning. What is a product? Something that a customer describes, which has market value and is built by a development team.Then, who is a product owner? The product owner definition as per the Scrum Guide is someone who is accountable for maximizing the value of the product by being the go-between the customer and the development team.The primary role of a product owner is to represent the customer to the development team. By many definitions, a Product Owner is not the owner of the product but a proxy for the actual owner.Whatever the definition, a Product Owner is hugely responsible for ensuring that the product that is built satisfies the requirements of the customer and brings in value and satisfaction.What special skills do you need to succeed as a Product Owner? If someone tells you that Product Owner skills are inborn and cannot be learnt, then do not believe them! A successful Product Owner has skills that make him/her a good communicator, an efficient decision maker, and capable of resourceful handling of the product backlog. These skills can be learnt and built upon.Skills and Competencies Required in the Product Owner RoleSo, what is the role of the Product Owner?There are many skills and competencies needed to perform a product owner’s roles and responsibilities including the following: Acting as a Liason Agent: The Product Owner is responsible for liaising with the Scrum Master to achieve enterprise objectives and ensuring satisfied customers. Facilitating Communication: Facilitating transparent, smooth communication channels between the stakeholders and the Scrum team. Risk Management: Mitigating risks by understanding their scope and identifying them at the right time. Maximizing Product Value: A Product Owner should be well-versed in Agile concepts and practices. Only then can the Agile potential be harnessed to create a product that offers maximum value to the customer.  Leadership Skills to motivate:  Lead, motivate and inspire Agile teams and team members to perform better.  Foresight: A product owner must have the power to visualise the end-product and understand the needs of the consumer and more importantly, communicate this vision to the development team and guide the team through the development process. Ability to elicit information: A product owner must have the expertise and skills to ask the right questions. This will help them to understand both sides of the story; in other words the development team’s and the customer’s point of view.  Ability to refuse the customer: Let’s face it, as a Product Owner you are there to please the customer. But that cannot be at the cost of your development team. You must learn to identify requirements that are undeliverable and have the courage to say ‘NO’ to the customer.Product Owner Responsibilities: Key Tasks The key tasks a Product Owner carries out include: Defining the product features Prioritizing the development tasks Adjusting the features and priority after each sprint as required Rejecting or accepting work results Keeping customers updated about status and getting their feedback Aiding the Scrum Master in fulfilling their responsibilitiesProduct Owner Responsibilities: Key Deliverables A Product Owner job description would look something like this: Support and implement Scrum values and practices that will provide better customer service Collaborate with key stakeholders and ensure that product is delivered using Agile values Manage, groom, and prioritize sprint backlog  Work with development team to plan stories for upcoming sprints and determine acceptance criteria Review metrics, monitor progress of user stories and sprints, measure value of deliverables Manage and mitigate project risks and ensure that customer feedback is incorporated Negotiate and resolve customer escalations Implement solutions with development team and ensure that business objectives are met.What’s the difference between the Product Manager and the Product Owner roles? (Product Owner vs Product Manager) As a Product Owner you will find yourself often mistakenly called a Product Manager. While there is  just a thin line that separates the two roles, they are none the less different.A Product Manager is responsible for the development of products, manages its requirements and ensures that the product satisfies the guidelines of the customer. A Product Manager in essence also performs the role of a Product Owner.A Product Owner’s responsibilities in the context of Scrum are that of being a representative of the customer and the proxy owner of the product. A Product Owner’s role is defined and specific. They have to ensure that the product is built using Scrum principles and is as mandated by the customer.A Product Manager’s role is more inclusive and covers the entire lifecycle of the product, all along helping customers stay in the loop and overseeing delivery of the product.The difference between the two roles can be thought of as a Venn diagram where a smaller circle, representing the Product Owner is contained within a larger circle, representing the Product Manager.That brings us to another question which is the difference between Product Owner and Business Analyst.That brings us to another question which is the difference between Product Owner and Business Analyst. Product Owner vs Business AnalystProduct OwnerBusiness AnalystThe Product Owner works on the business side of the product.The BA usually works on the technical or agile team side.Is a proxy for the customerIs the representative of the development teamGenerally, has more business knowledgeGenerally, has business knowledge coupled with technical knowledgeWhile there may be demarcations between the roles, there are also frequent overlaps and depending on the type of agile project a business analyst may perform the role of a Product Owner with success. But in order to do this the BA must be able to understand the business side of the product and be a communication and technical representative of the business.Required Experience and Knowledge in the Product Owner RoleLike in all other roles, experience makes one better at the role. As you work on more and more projects, your skills as a product owner will enhance. Certifications such as the CSPO and PSPO also help in polishing your skills and expertise in product ownership.  As a Product Owner you will be expected to have knowledge of:Scrum concepts Product vision Scrum estimation Product backlog prioritization Release Management Timeboxing SprintsFan-Out Model of Product Manager, Product Owner, and Agile TeamsThe Fan-out model essentially defines how resources should be allocated across the organization to optimise work flow, ensure maximum productivity and eliminate creation of bottlenecks.According to Scaled Agile, Inc, each Product Manager can usually support up to four POs, each of whom can be responsible for the backlog of one or two Agile teams.The fan out model indicates the relationship between the product manager, product owner and the teams that is the ideal composition to ensure successful scaling of Agile.Conclusion The Product Owner is often described as an agile project’s real superhero. A good product owner successfully navigates the balancing act--of keeping the customers happy and not overburdening the team with unrealistic requirements.An Agile project is made up of a Product Owner, Scrum Master and the development team. The product owner maximizes the value of the product created by the development team and ensures stakeholder management. Without a product owner, there is no Scrum team.The Standish Group data shows that consistently over the last 20 years, for over 500,000 projects,  64% of features delivered to customers are never or rarely used. And this is because of a lack of a proper Product Owner.Product Owners are an indispensable part of Agile teams and enterprises. To learn more about how you can leverage this demand and be a part of modern agile organizations check out these popular product owner certifications.  
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What is Product Owner's Role in Scrum?

Susan May
Blog
26th Feb, 2021
What is Product Owner's Role in Scrum?

Let’s start right at the beginning. What is a product? Something that a customer describes, which has market value and is built by a development team.

Then, who is a product owner? The product owner definition as per the Scrum Guide is someone who is accountable for maximizing the value of the product by being the go-between the customer and the development team.

The primary role of a product owner is to represent the customer to the development team. By many definitions, a Product Owner is not the owner of the product but a proxy for the actual owner.

Whatever the definition, a Product Owner is hugely responsible for ensuring that the product that is built satisfies the requirements of the customer and brings in value and satisfaction.

What special skills do you need to succeed as a Product Owner? 

If someone tells you that Product Owner skills are inborn and cannot be learnt, then do not believe them! A successful Product Owner has skills that make him/her a good communicator, an efficient decision maker, and capable of resourceful handling of the product backlog. These skills can be learnt and built upon.

Skills and Competencies Required in the Product Owner Role

So, what is the role of the Product Owner?

There are many skills and competencies needed to perform a product owner’s roles and responsibilities including the following: 

  • Acting as a Liason Agent: The Product Owner is responsible for liaising with the Scrum Master to achieve enterprise objectives and ensuring satisfied customers. 
  • Facilitating Communication: Facilitating transparent, smooth communication channels between the stakeholders and the Scrum team. 
  • Risk Management: Mitigating risks by understanding their scope and identifying them at the right time. 
  • Maximizing Product ValueA Product Owner should be well-versed in Agile concepts and practices. Only then can the Agile potential be harnessed to create a product that offers maximum value to the customer.  
  • Leadership Skills to motivateLead, motivate and inspire Agile teams and team members to perform better.  
  • Foresight: A product owner must have the power to visualise the end-product and understand the needs of the consumer and more importantly, communicate this vision to the development team and guide the team through the development process. 
  • Ability to elicit information: A product owner must have the expertise and skills to ask the right questions. This will help them to understand both sides of the story; in other words the development team’s and the customer’s point of view.  
  • Ability to refuse the customer: Let’s face it, as a Product Owner you are there to please the customer. But that cannot be at the cost of your development team. You must learn to identify requirements that are undeliverable and have the courage to say ‘NO’ to the customer.

Product Owner Responsibilities: Key Tasks 

The key tasks a Product Owner carries out include: 

  • Defining the product features 
  • Prioritizing the development tasks 
  • Adjusting the features and priority after each sprint as required 
  • Rejecting or accepting work results 
  • Keeping customers updated about status and getting their feedback 
  • Aiding the Scrum Master in fulfilling their responsibilities

Product Owner Responsibilities: Key Deliverables 

Product Owner job description would look something like this: 

  • Support and implement Scrum values and practices that will provide better customer service 
  • Collaborate with key stakeholders and ensure that product is delivered using Agile values 
  • Manage, groom, and prioritize sprint backlog  
  • Work with development team to plan stories for upcoming sprints and determine acceptance criteria 
  • Review metrics, monitor progress of user stories and sprints, measure value of deliverables 
  • Manage and mitigate project risks and ensure that customer feedback is incorporated 
  • Negotiate and resolve customer escalations 
  • Implement solutions with development team and ensure that business objectives are met.

What’s the difference between the Product Manager and the Product Owner roles? (Product Owner vs Product Manager) 

As a Product Owner you will find yourself often mistakenly called a Product Manager. While there is  just a thin line that separates the two roles, they are none the less different.

A Product Manager is responsible for the development of products, manages its requirements and ensures that the product satisfies the guidelines of the customer. A Product Manager in essence also performs the role of a Product Owner.

Product Owner’s responsibilities in the context of Scrum are that of being a representative of the customer and the proxy owner of the product. A Product Owner’s role is defined and specific. They have to ensure that the product is built using Scrum principles and is as mandated by the customer.

A Product Manager’s role is more inclusive and covers the entire lifecycle of the product, all along helping customers stay in the loop and overseeing delivery of the product.

The difference between the two roles can be thought of as a Venn diagram where a smaller circle, representing the Product Owner is contained within a larger circle, representing the Product Manager.

That brings us to another question which is the difference between Product Owner and Business Analyst.

That brings us to another question which is the difference between Product Owner and Business Analyst. 

Product Owner vs Business Analyst

Product OwnerBusiness Analyst
The Product Owner works on the business side of the product.The BA usually works on the technical or agile team side.
Is a proxy for the customerIs the representative of the development team
Generally, has more business knowledgeGenerally, has business knowledge coupled with technical knowledge

While there may be demarcations between the roles, there are also frequent overlaps and depending on the type of agile project a business analyst may perform the role of a Product Owner with success. But in order to do this the BA must be able to understand the business side of the product and be a communication and technical representative of the business.

Required Experience and Knowledge in the Product Owner Role

Like in all other roles, experience makes one better at the role. As you work on more and more projects, your skills as a product owner will enhance. Certifications such as the CSPO and PSPO also help in polishing your skills and expertise in product ownership. 

 As a Product Owner you will be expected to have knowledge of:

  • Scrum concepts 
  • Product vision 
  • Scrum estimation 
  • Product backlog prioritization 
  • Release Management 
  • Timeboxing Sprints

Fan-Out Model of Product Manager, Product Owner, and Agile Teams

The Fan-out model essentially defines how resources should be allocated across the organization to optimise work flow, ensure maximum productivity and eliminate creation of bottlenecks.

According to Scaled Agile, Inc, each Product Manager can usually support up to four POs, each of whom can be responsible for the backlog of one or two Agile teams.

The fan out model indicates the relationship between the product manager, product owner and the teams that is the ideal composition to ensure successful scaling of Agile.Conclusion 

The Product Owner is often described as an agile project’s real superhero. A good product owner successfully navigates the balancing act--of keeping the customers happy and not overburdening the team with unrealistic requirements.

An Agile project is made up of a Product Owner, Scrum Master and the development team. The product owner maximizes the value of the product created by the development team and ensures stakeholder management. Without a product owner, there is no Scrum team.

The Standish Group data shows that consistently over the last 20 years, for over 500,000 projects 64% of features delivered to customers are never or rarely used. And this is because of a lack of a proper Product Owner.

Product Owners are an indispensable part of Agile teams and enterprises. To learn more about how you can leverage this demand and be a part of modern agile organizations check out these popular product owner certifications 

Susan

Susan May

Writer, Developer, Explorer

Susan is a gamer, internet scholar and an entrepreneur, specialising in Big Data, Hadoop, Web Development and many other technologies. She is the author of several articles published on Zeolearn and KnowledgeHut blogs. She has gained a lot of experience by working as a freelancer and is now working as a trainer. As a developer, she has spoken at various international tech conferences around the globe about Big Data.


Website : https://www.zeolearn.com

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