Scrum: The Product Owner

Insights | 11 September 2019

Scrum is a popular Agile method using an iterative timeboxed approach to product delivery. As with all Agile methods, the ‘voice of the customer’ needs to be heard. In Scrum, the Product Owner role addresses the wants, needs and concerns of the customer.

Tell me more about the Product Owner…

The Product Owner is accountable for maximising the business value of the team’s work. This is done by prioritising work so that high value items are developed first.

The Product Owner gathers information from stakeholders and develops requirements based on this information. The prioritised list of requirements is known as the product backlog. By providing the product backlog, the Product Owner in effect gives the team ‘what’ they need to work on.

Ultimately, the Product Owner has the final say on everything to do with the final product. They own the product and are accountable for it. The Product Owner therefore needs to have authority to decide what goes into the product.

What does a Product Owner do?

Put succinctly, the role of the Product Owner is about product value. The Product Owner is responsible for:

  • Clearly expressing product backlog items
  • Prioritising the items in the product backlog to best achieve overall objectives
  • Optimising the value of the work the team performs
  • Ensuring that the product backlog is visible, transparent and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum team will work on next
  • Ensuring the team understands items in the product backlog to the level needed.

Attributes of a Successful Product Owner

A Product Owner needs to be:

  • Knowledgeable of the customer domain
  • An effective communicator
  • Able to engage key stakeholders
  • Empowered
  • Clear on the vision for the product
  • Articulate in defining requirements
  • Able to define what a successful outcome would look like
  • Available at all times to the team.

The Product Owner is a pivotal role in Scrum and is a key stakeholder; executing this role correctly is critical to the successful use of Scrum.

Next Steps…

Our 2-day Scrum Product Owner Certified (SPOC™) workshop provides an interactive hands-on learning experience through a mix of highly interactive facilitator-led discussions, group activities, games and product development simulation. This workshop also prepares candidates for the Scrum Product Owner Certification examination.

SPOC™ are trademarks of SCRUMstudy.
About The Author

Tracey Copland, Head of Best Practice at PM-Partners group

Tracey has been involved in management, finance and business consulting including Portfolio, Programme & Project management for 20+ years. Together with her skills and experience, Tracey is a flexible professional seeking to achieve a high work standard, focussing on value-add.

Having been with PM-Partners group for 15 years, Tracey has held roles including Consultant/Trainer, Head of Training and currently, Head of Development. Tracey has provided training and consultation services to clients in both the public and private sectors, across various disciplines and at all levels including Project, Programme, Portfolio and Change Management, and Agile practices.

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