A Product Owner has a versatile range of tasks, focused on both his/her development team and the broader organisation. The core tasks of this person are:
Before the team can start with developing, they need a vision. This vision consists out of client’s wishes and discussions with stakeholders and/or clients. A Product Owner retrieves information from the inside and outside the organisation. This requires the Product Owner to have a strong network from which valuable information can be retrieved.
When the Product Owner has enough input, a vision is created for the product to be delivered. The sprints are the guiding principle for outlining the first steps towards development. The sprint is a forecast, or in other words a short-term plan for the product. The plan consists of the work items that a Product Owner represents on the product backlog (the work list).
In order to keep the process uncomplicated and streamlined, there is one Product Owner per product, with one backlog. This backlog is clear to the team at all times. This ensures transparency for both the team’s shared vision and its work process and steps.
Within complex organisations, there are a lot of choices to be made, such as: which work items should we deal with first? Which ones deliver the most value at the moment? What should we do after? Which team is most suitable to deal with this? Does a stakeholder’s question tie in with my vision? The Product Owner’s mandate is crucial here, without it he/she cannot make any decisions and the team will suffer under a lack of control over content.
In response to the vision, he/she will indicate to the stakeholders what is and is not taken up by the team. This requires strong decisiveness and communication skills from a Product Owner. It is thus a constant deliberation about who will be informed when, and in which form, about advances within the team.
The Product Owner has primary responsibility for the product backlog. Updating and keeping up with this work list is an important and time-consuming task. In order to ensure that the team always works on items that deliver the most value at that moment, the Product Owner must carry out a number of tasks with respect to the Product backlog:
A good Product Owner is crucial in order to deliver a valuable product to the client.
he Product Owner can delegate the work to the product backlog, but this person does maintain final responsibility. A Scrum Master coaches the Product Owner in this process. The Scrum Master also ensures that the team is not disturbed by the Product Owner or stakeholders, in order to focus on performing their work.
Stakeholders that want to change an item on the product backlog must allow this to be done by the Product Owner, who can then adjust the priorities where needed. A good and efficient cooperation between the Product Owner, Scrum Master and development team is crucial here.
So, the role has a very varied range of tasks and responsibilities. This person thus has a big influence on the substantive work of the development team. If you want to read and learn more, grab the Scrum Guide!
To find out more, take a look at the training webpage.
To read more about the role of PO in Scaled Agile environment, read more here.