Jiri Lundak

Archive for December, 2006|Monthly archive page

The Under-Rated Product Owner Role

In Agile Development, Scrum on December 15, 2006 at 7:30 pm

The role of the so-called Product Owner is in Scrum maybe the most under-rated role. I believe that the main reason for this is, that most implementations of Scrum are driven by people with a software development background, like myself. So most of us put very much weight on the ScrumMaster role, as we believe that he is the most important person for a Scrum team. Does he not remove impediments and keep the Agile process moving?

During the last Scrum Gathering in Minneapolis, we had an Open Space session on how to empower the Product Owner. While we were thinking about the value, principles and practices, that should should be kept in sight, when working with a Product Owner, it came to me, that the Product Owner must be by far the most important person for a Scrum team. And here is why:

  • He is responsible for the success of the project the team delivers.
  • He has to make business decisions, about what is important to him and how much it is important in comparison to other requirements he may have.
  • He provides the vision about the product for the team.
  • He provides the team with user stories and needs deep domain knowledge to do that.
  • He has prime responsibility to validate the deliverables the team produces. Do they meet his quality requirements. Are all conditions of satisfaction met?
  • He has to provide timely feedback to the development team, when questions arise.
  • He has to be able to make decisions on the spot, to resolve questions on how to proceed.
  • He needs to be in constant communication with the team and other stakeholder or project sponsors
  • He has to keep the financial situation of the project under close scrutiny.

With such a huge amount of responsibility and other qualities he needs, it is by no means surprising, that it is this difficult, to find an ideal Product Owner. I strongly believe, that there is no perfect Product Owner out there bringing all to the table, that is needed.

Because of this shortcoming and the importance of the role, we as the Scrum community need to focus more on the Product Owner role, providing a platform for the ongoing education of our Product Owners. I think we now really begin to focus on what is needed. Whether it is enough to provide a Certified Product Owner training? This short training can be an initial step. But much more needs to be done. But what? I will try to answer that question in an upcoming blog entry.

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