Product Owner Role : What he does ?

In the “Scrum Guide” Ken Schwaber says about the product owner

“ The Product Owner is the one and only person responsible for managing the Product Backlog and ensuring the value of the work the team performs. This person maintains the Product Backlog and ensures it is visible to everyone”

Still many organizations fail to understand fully the role of product owner. Product Owner plays important role in getting the product developed to achieve its desired benefits. He always represents Business and the work with the team to see that they deliver as per the business needs. He has to work collaboratively with the team such that they are in the right direction. Unless there is a close collaboration between the business people and development, the success of the product becomes distant possibility. This requires the involvement of the product owner throught the iteration and he frequently verifying the work of the team. It differs from the traditional role as product manager.

The common mistake is that “He provides help in creating the product backlog and managing it”. One should not think this is not the only role. There are quite important other things he does during the product life cycle. The product owner leads the development effort of the team. As per the Roman Pichler who has written quite well in his book “ Agile Product Management with Scrum”, some of his responsibilities are often in involves

  • Creating the product vision
  • Grooming the product backlog
  • Planning the release
  • Involving the customers, users and other stakeholders
  • Managing the budget
  • Preparing for the product launch
  • Attending the Scrum Meetings
  • Collaborating with the team

It is better to have single person as a product owner. This helps in ensuring the continuity across the releases, reduce hand offs and long term thinking. Depending on the context the role of product owner could vary from customer, sponsor, the product manager and the project manager etc. The product owner skills and competencies could change for web application product enhancement to health care applications involving the integration of hardware, software and other interfaces.

In Roman Pichler words, the product owner is typically a customer representative, such as product manager or marketing person. The product owner needs to have different skills for working with large Scrum project than who collaborates with one or two teams

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