Agile Product Owner Role and Responsibilities

Agile Product Owner Role and Responsibilities

‘Product Owner’ role is arguably the most important role in agile product development. Product owner owns the product to bring it to real life make the different for clients, users and business. And the organization that succeed at implementing the product owner role effectively, reap the benefit from a new and healthy relationship between customers (product management) and development. Certainly the role brings a real competitive advantage for the organizations.

This blog post shares out collective insights from a product development group’s brainstorming. I hope this is going to help you explore the role successfully.

Product Owner Role

Product Owner Role and Responsibilities

Product owner responsible for user need, customer and business (Owns ‘WHY’ part of the Product)

  • Vision:
    • Define the product functional roadmap
    • Align Technical roadmap into product’s long term vision
    • Know and Identify what is needed in the product and WHY
  • Keep senses open:
    • Keep eyes on Domain, Market and industry trends, Idea portal
    • Continuous interaction/engagement with clients/end users to understand their persona (user attributes, environment attributes, domain attributes, business process flow attributes etc.), their pain points and derive real need/requirements
    • Keep an eye on legislation’s in the market
    • Know what are different product capabilities and why they are there and how they help the user and industry
    • Work with internal stakeholders (Engineering, Support, Services, Marketing, Sales) to understand their perspective on the product capabilities/features
    • PO is Voice of customer and Understands the market / industry in and out

Product Owner brings the client empathy to TEAM

  • Make team Appreciate Client, User, domain, industry
    • Bring the broad user profile/persona to team
    • Close collaboration with IXD to get interaction design, process workflow, prototype for team to appreciate the bigger picture
    • Whom are we serving, why they need what they need?
    • Represent the user group at team
    • Have Industry / Domain insight sessions with team to make them understand the big picture
  • Ongoing feedback:
    • Bringing the user/client feedback stories back to team (hits or misses)
    • Facilitating other members in team to meet user
    • Making sure features are implemented as required/needed

Owns the Product backlog

  • Build the product backlog:
    • Start with high level backlog and a prioritized one.
    • Converts user needs into Epics, User stories ( PBIs, Tasks, Ideas)
    • Outline the acceptance criteria for stories
  • Backlog prioritization
    • Define the value on why we are doing what we are doing….helps in prioritization
    • Keeps the high priority story at top to ensure that what team is working is the most important/value item at any given point in time
  • Ongoing Backlog grooming/refinement
    • Breaking down stories in discussion with stakeholders
    • Responding to dynamic scenarios and factoring in backlog as appropriate
    • Controlling the client defect counts to ensure client satisfaction. (bugs are actual pains stated by clients)
    • Keeps track of idea portal to see what client / user care about and refine backlog

Owns product releases and takes necessary decision

  • Coming up with release plan (Minimum Viable Product features) and when to release
  • Making tough calls / decisions on  moving in or out work
  • Track the release progress (Budget, ROI)
  • Coordinate the product launch
  • Making sure that customer take the release and use it and get the feedback back to team
  • List success criteria for deliverable and ensure business returns

Stakeholder management and collaboration

Product Owner a bridge to clients

Product Owner a bridge to clients

  • External: Client / User /Industry:
    • Ongoing engagement with Client, users, user groups, industry events, authorities for Need analysis, Product delivery, Feedback, other communication
    • Organizing Customer Advisory Panel sessions and getting feedback on product work
    • Performing stakeholder meeting and requirement gathering
  • Internal across functions
    • Collaboration across product functions i.e. services, support, pre-sales, sales and marketing for their perspectives, product communications and feedback.
  • Internal: TEAM
    • Feeding requirement to/from product management
    • Bridge between team and others i.e. product manager, customers
    • Collaborate with team to develop/discuss product vision and product directions and how that aligns with team
    • Work with Tech Leaders and define technical roadmap (own tech debt management) keeping product’s long term vision in mind
    • Attending sprint pre-planning, planning, sprint demos, giving feedback on ‘Work In Progress’, query resolution for team
    • Appreciate fellow product owner’s backlog & prioritization (in bigger teams)
    • Getting to know other areas of product and challenges in those areas… for impact study
  • Product communications…Release timeline, Scope, business drivers, impact (product, clients) across stakeholders

Key Challenges as a Product Owner

Product Owner Challenges

Product Owner Challenges

  • Keeping Product discovery (or problem validation, customer discovery, business value validation) in front. This is one of the critical aspect of product from client, user and business aspect. It requires lots of energy, coordination, chasing up across stakeholders. Lot of patience needed J
  • Challenge to get client empathy to remote team. In today’s globalized world product teams are dispersed and if team don’t have direct client connect, it becomes a challenge for Product Owner to get client empathy to team with indirect means
  • And if the product owner himself/herself is remove, then the challenge gets even tougher. Organizations need to have seamless travels for Product Owners at least to have direct client connect.
  • There are so many things to do/build in a product. There are so many voices and It is always a challenge to achieve the right balance of sustenance/maintenance work and new development.
  • Technical debt management is a huge challenge that product owner tend to miss in the passion to delivery new capabilities faster to the market. Not paying attention to technical debt and future technical roadmap for the product can be a very costly affair for Product owner and for Organization.
  • The most prominent ask from product owner is to manage cross functional stakeholders (external or internal). Product owner has a challenge to use communication in such an effective way that all voices are heard well, decisions are taken in time, finalized action plans are communicated back to all and do everything to prevent any gap anywhere. Very tough but if done…. Very fulfilling J

References:

I have borrowed the clipart pictures from http://www.romanpichler.com

I found the content very useful at http://www.romanpichler.com/blog/the-product-owner-responsibilities/

A great video for an agile enthusiast and the Product Owner www.youtube.com/watch?v=502ILHjX9EE

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