Agile Product Owner: Role and Responsibilities

Agile Product Owner: Role and Responsibilities
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The Agile Scrum Methodology includes three key players: the Scrum Master, the development team itself and the agile product owner. In a previous post, we discussed the implications involved with a Scrum Master’s location. Now, let’s take an in-depth look at the agile Scrum product owner, the key stakeholder in the development project.

What is the Agile Product Owner’s role?

The product owner oversees the development project, taking into account the demands of the other involved stakeholders and communicating these to the team, noted Agile Modeling. This person is the “go-to” contact for all informational needs related to the project and helps the team prioritize tasks as the initiative moves along.

At the same time, the product owner also represents the public face of the team when it comes to connecting back with other stakeholders. The owner will keep the interested community apprised of the status of the project, educating stakeholders on the development process and where the team currently stands.

Overall, the product owner represents a bridge between the development team and the initiative stakeholders. In this way, the owner opens lines of communication among the developers, Scrum Master, senior management, operations and support staff of the development company as well as the end-users.

What project aspects is the product owner responsible for?

In order to be able to effectively communicate with all involved, the product owner is responsible for understanding the overall goal of the project, and the steps the team will take to get there.

“Part of the product owner’s responsibilities is to have a vision of what he or she wishes to build, and convey that vision to the Scrum team,” noted Mountain Goat Software. “The product owner role requires working closely with key stakeholders throughout the organization and beyond, so he or she must be able to communicate different messages to different people about the project at any given time.”

Although the product owner will provide the necessary information to guide and prioritize aspects of the project, he or she does not determine which tasks will be taken care of during certain time periods. This person is responsible for motivating the team by laying out a definitive, achievable goal and helping them reach it.

Other responsibilities of the product owner include offering up relevant data for decision-making, participating in modeling and customer testing, as well as negotiating funding, schedules and priorities.

“The product owner is the person who owns the product on behalf of the company,” Pichler Consulting stated. “The product owner should understand the user and customer needs and the business goals, and collaborate with the development team and stakeholders.”

Product owners need certain skills

Clearly, the product owner is a versatile role with a range of different responsibilities. Therefore, the individual that fills this role needs to have certain skills in order to be successful.

  • First and foremost, the product owner must be available to everyone involved in the project, including the development team, the Scrum Master and all other stakeholders in the development company.
  • This individual must also have the communication skills to support the team and its interested community.
  • At the same time, the product owner should also have an effective understanding of the market environment and the user needs the will impact the final product.

“Business savvy is important for the agile product owner,” Mountain Goat stated. “That means the agile PO should understand the market, the customer and the business in order to make sound decisions.”

Additionally, the product owner should also have at least a basic understanding of the software development process, including what application architecture and development techniques are being used. This will help this person better communicate with everyone involved.