The product owner (PO) role was established once the scrum framework was created to address issues that engineering teams faced during a product development, the main and most important activity that is expected from the PO, is to provide a single point of information that can remove obstacles during the development process.
In addition, the traditional role of the product owner(PO) in scrum contains some additional responsibilities and activities that are involved in different phases of the scrum process, based on the theoretical approach we can divide them into tree main categories:
Product owner (PO) & Scrum backlogs
- Splitting user stories which are too big for a single iteration (Epics).
- Determine the stories DoD and approve it in the review meeting.
- Determine the stories acceptance criteria.
- Prioritize user stories based on ROI.
- Maintain the product backlog
- Writing user stories.
Product owner (PO) & Scrum Team
- Provide the user stories and targets for the next iteration (Planning meeting).
- Help the team to remove any obstacles that any affect their performance.
- Help the team to improve by taking real actions (Retrospective meeting).
- Measuring the team progress based on commitment and velocity.
- Communicate the product vision to the team.
- Provide feedback to the team and determine the quality of the iteration deliverables (Sprint review).
- Participating in daily scrum meetings to be able to adapt and inspect the current progress.
Product owner (PO) & Core Activities
- Make real business decisions that can affect the entire project.
- Communicate the project status to external resources.
- Provide the vision and goals for the project.
- Have the final authority when needed.
- Determine the project release dates.
Product owner Vs Task Manager
Take a few minutes and think about the list above, can you see the problem? There is no way that a single resource can actually perform all of those activities and to be honest it will most likely never happen, a “single point of information” has all the chances to become a “Single Point of Failure” and therefore we must understand that the Scrum theory is truly great on paper but does not relevant once you need to implement it.
Know this, the PO can be the resource that can determine the project vision and maintain the backlog stories, but it will most likely be a different person that actually owns the product and communicate with the stakeholders (Senior management, Clients, Budgets Etc.).
The Characteristics of a true product owner
Leadership - A good PO will provide a clear and informative vision for the team, it’s his responsibility to make sure that the scrum team will understand the project goals and what is expected from them.
Availability and communication - The product owner should be available for the scrum team, simple has that, a good communication is the key to every project and especially in scrum process.
Aim for continues improvement - The PO should aim to improve the process per iteration, it’s one of his major responsibilities to make sure that the scrum team will improve through time.
Experienced - The PO role possesses many activities such as determine the goals, vision, and ROI of the project, to be able to determine each one of them, the PO should have the experience needed to deal with these challenges in a way that does not affect the project goals.
Adaptable to changes - As you know, in scrum we embrace changes that can raise during the SDLC, a good PO is not afraid to confront these changes and resolve them in a way that does not affect the project goals and vision.
Trust the Scrum team – A good PO, will trust the team once they determine their sprint commitments, a good PO will provide the freedom needed for the team to grow and manage their tasks throughout the iterations.