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Why is the role of the Product Owner important in Scrum?

Why is the role of the Product Owner important in Scrum?

Last year I did an inhouse Scrum training at a small company, let’s call them SmallCo. SmallCo have had a small team working according to Scrum and they are looking for possibilities to expand the use of Scrum.

As many companies SmallCo are facing challenges int their implementation of Scrum. One of the obvious ones were the role of the Product Owner. Who should they appoint to be Product Owner? How could they make sure this person got the right mandate to fulfil the role? These were just some of the questions brought up.

The role of the Product Owner in Scrum has a number of important responsibilities.

· Creating and communicating a Product Vision

· Represent the stakeholders

· Maximise the Return On Investment (ROI)

· Be available to the team

The Product Owner has the responsibility to create and communicate a Product Vision. The Product Vision is a powerful tool to guide the team, help the team to stay focused and to align the stakeholder. The Product Owner can preferably creat the Product Vision in collaboration with stakeholders and the team if desired.

In order to avoid confusion for the team developing the product we want one channel for requirements towards the team. This i sobtained by letting the Product Owner represent all stakeholders. It is allowed for stakeholders to add items to the Product Backlog. However, it is the sole responsibility of the Product Owner to prioritise and order the items.

The order of the Product Backlog Items should be based primarily on value and cost. That is, the business value of the item and the estimated cost to implement the item. The Product Owner need a good working relation with the stakeholders to fully understand the value of each item. The Product Owner needs to balance the needs of the different stakeholders in order for the overall product ROI to become as high as possible.

It is necessary for the Product Owner to continuously work on the Product backlog in order to keep it evolving and emergent. Being a Product Owner is a continuous effort not a one off activity.

Though keeping the Product Backlog up to date and prioritzed is an important task for the product Owner, it is not enough. The Product Owner needs to attend meetings with the team developing the product and also to be available to the team during the Sprint when the selected Product Backlog Items are being implemented.

By being available to the team during the Sprint the product Owner contributes to increasing the probablity of success and to minimise misunderstandings, misinterpretations and re-work.

To me it is obvious that in order to be a succesful Product Owner you need to be not only decisive but also have the decisional power given to you.

Please comment and write about your experiences.

Author: Arne Ahlander
Article source: http://aqqurite.se/ 

About the author

Arne Ahlander

World-famous CST, Member of Scrum Alliance Trainer Approval Community, First-class Agile Product Management Master and Expert

Arne Åhlander is a Senior Consultant using Agile and Lean methodologies to improve management and product development for several larger software organizations.

Arne has experience from the software industry since 1994, to a great part in the area of product management where he have held several senior positions. Arne has managed Scrum projects, helped customers start Scrum initatives. Arne is a CSM, CSPO, CSP and he became a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) in November, 2008.

Mr Åhlander is a TBR (Training From The BACK Of The Room) Certified Trainer.

Arne is based in Lund, Sweden, employed by Aqqurite and an active member of the SW Business Improvement efforts in Scandinavia. He holds a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering at Lund University, Sweden. Special interests of Arne, are:

◈ The Product Owner role

◈ Business Value calculations
◈ Prioritization of projects based on Business Value
◈ Extending Scrum within organizations
◈ Scaling of Scrum

English delivered CSM and CSPO courses are available this July in Beijing and Shanghai by Arne Ahlander. Till the year of 2019, Arne Ahlander already has more than 1,000 students in China, which makes him being the NO.1 foreign CST who owns the most students in China.