The role of the product owner

Definition of Product Owner


In the Scrum Guide, the definition of the product owner is: responsible for maximizing the value of the product delivered by the development team. Responsible for managing the product to-do list. A product owner is a person, not a committee, and the product owner can represent the wishes of the committee in the product to-do list. But those who want to change the priority of the product backlog items must explain to the product owner because the product owner is the only person responsible for making decisions about the product.



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The role of the product owner


In the uncertain, complex, and rapidly changing environment, the role of the product owner is no longer the past focus on product requirements specifications and requirements separation and detailed description, such a role has been far from competent for the requirements of the current market competition. In the era of digital transformation, the role that the product owner should play is more to move from the backstage accustomed to development in the past to the front desk closer to the customer. Such as focusing on market customer behavior, user experience, customers' current headaches, and providing customers with quality services or solutions.


Whether the product owner can play its due role, different organizations, Scrum teams and individuals may have very different ways to do this. In the practice of coaching customers, it is often found that not every product owner selected by an organization or enterprise has the characteristics and skills that a product owner should have. There is no doubt that a product that is loved by the majority of users must be closely related to the role that an excellent product owner should play; on the contrary, a failed or neglected product cannot give birth to an excellent product owner. People vividly compare a bad product owner to make a company or development team take a 350-kilometer high-speed train to the wrong destination. This is like the product owner handing over a requirement that is not fully understood or wrong to the development team, no matter how fast the development team delivers, it is meaningless because the products made are worthless to customers. Even serious ones will bring huge waste and catastrophic risks to the entire organization or enterprise. Therefore, the role and core strength of a product owner should be highly valued, and the product owner should be trained more carefully.


As we know, it takes ten years or more to train a product manager or product owner to become an excellent product management talent with the characteristics and skills that a product owner should possess.


But no matter what, in the practice of agile transformation, if a growing product owner wants to win the trust and full authorization of the entire organization or enterprise, he can indeed become the only person responsible for making product decisions for the organization or enterprise. . At least in the following areas should continue to strengthen exercise and play its due role:


1) Have a deep understanding and mastery of market customer behavior or industry business, and on this basis can clearly express the product to-do list items.


2) Able to work out the corresponding product vision around the overall vision, goals, and strategy of the organization or enterprise together with relevant stakeholders.


3) Develop your leadership and negotiation skills through cross-functional team cooperation. From the perspective of agile product thinking rather than project thinking, comprehensive consideration of factors such as business value, demand function realization, technical realization, regulations and risks, and resource availability, arrange the sequence of product to-do list development and make decisive decisions to achieve the best goals and missions.


4) On the premise of arranging the to-do list, you need to work with the development team to refine or optimize the value of the work to be completed. Such as instructing the development team to split items and describe them as user stories, and provide necessary help or suggestions to the development team's estimation.


5) You should make sure that the product backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to everyone, and shows what the Scrum team will do next. For example, a product to-do list is prepared for the Scrum team's next sprint plan on the agile project management platform.


6) Ensure that the development team clearly understands the to-do list items of the product to be developed and reach the required level of correct understanding.


How to play the role of the product owner


In daily work, the role that the product owner should play can be reflected in:


1) The product owner should regularly or irregularly investigate customers and observe the research market, such as customer visits, customer interviews, customer big data analysis and research, etc., to deeply understand and master customer needs. Another important point is to manage and coordinate the relationship between various customer stakeholders.


2) If it is a newly launched product development project, the product owner and relevant stakeholders, such as the Scrum team, should formulate a product vision, initially design the entire product architecture, and continuously improve the product architecture system in the subsequent development process.


3) If it is the stage of perfecting and optimizing the functions of a marketed product, the product owner should arrange the items to be developed in advance for each subsequent sprint through cross-functional teamwork. You can choose to complete a regular collaborative meeting during a sprint.


4) During the sprint development, the product owner should guide the development team to complete the preparation of the to-do items for the next sprint or the split and description of user stories in groups or in an individual form.


5) In the later period before the end of the sprint, the product owner should guide the development team to jointly complete the common understanding and estimation of all user stories in the next sprint through a product requirement review meeting.


6) At the sprint planning meeting, discuss and formulate sprint goals with the development team and the number of product backlogs of user stories that need to be selected to complete the sprint goals.


7) In the sprint review meeting, in addition to the Scrum team, key related stakeholders can also be invited to participate. It is not only necessary to check the "completed" increment, but also to adjust the product to-do list for the next sprint based on the "completed" increment and feedback from relevant stakeholders. Including the progress of time, the progress of product development, market information, the impact of potential development functions on the product to-do list for the next sprint, formulating or adjusting the expected release plan, etc.


Summary


In short, in an uncertain, complex, fast-changing, and fiercely competitive world, the role of an excellent product owner is beyond doubt. How to get rid of the traditional thinking habit of project output as the purpose, and establish a customer-centric and value-oriented agile product thinking? For example, to establish the shortest possible feedback loop between customers and R&D, through rapid and continuous verification of customer demand development assumptions, so that product development can always approach the correct goals expected by customers and continue to meet customer requirements. Ultimately help customers to enhance market competitiveness. At the same time, work with the development team to reach a consensus on the understanding of development requirements, reduce the interference and impact of various unpredictable emergencies on the development team, and improve the development efficiency and delivery capabilities of the development team. Help organizations or enterprises to obtain the greatest profit or return on value with the most cost-saving, and enhance customer satisfaction. These are the important roles that the product owner should play.

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