Who is the Product Owner in Scrum ?
Product Owner is one of the 3 accountabilities defined in the Scrum Framework. Product Owner can also be called Value Maximises/Optimiser. The Product Owner is accountable for the Product Backlog. Decisions to maximise value are reflected in the content and the order of the Product Backlog. Golden rule: One Product, One Product Owner, One Product Backlog.
Scrum Team has 3 accountabilities
- Product Owner
- Scrum Master
Product is not a committee. He/she is one individual who may represent the need of many stakeholders. The Product Owner is accountable for maximing/optimising the value of the output (Product Increment) created by the Scrum Team. He/she achieves this by managing the Product Backlog, one of the artefacts in the Scrum Framework.
Product Owner is accountable for Product Backlog. However, this doesn’t mean that he/she is the only person who can edit/add a Product Backlog. Other members of the Scrum Team can contribute as well. However, the Product Owner remains accountable.
A great Product Product acts like the CEO of a company. They provide the strategic direction for the Product. This reflects in the Product Vision and the Product Goals. For better transparency and alignment, the Product Owner needs to make sure that these Vision and Product Goals are communicated to the Scrum Team(s) as well as stakeholders.
For a Product Owner to become successful, everyone must respect his/her decisions. In many organisation this might not be the start but they should keep working towards that. Scrum Masters and Agile Leaders can also help in supporting the maturity level of the Product Owner.
Product Owner is a very demanding responsibility. To maximise the value, the Product Owner needs to keep one foot in the Scrum Team by Product Backlog management and another foot outside the Scrum Team with customers, market, and stakeholders.
Product Owner & Scrum Events
- Sprint Planning
As the Product Owner knows best what could be the most important thing to do next to maximise value, they enter into the Sprint Planning with a business objective. This business objective gets refined together with the other Scrum Team members and Scrum Team together craft a Sprint Goal.
After that, the Product Owner assists the Developers in selecting the Product Backlog items that can help in meeting the Sprint Goal or any other item that can help in maximising the value.
Creating Sprint Backlog is Developers accountability. Product Owner can’t force them how much work Developers can pull from the Product Backlog. However, to maximise the value high level of collaborations is required.
2. Daily Scrum
Daily Scrum is for Developers only. Product Owner is not required. However, if it helps to increase the transparency and alignment, the Product Owner may be present as a listener only and participate if asked/requested by Developers. However, the Product Owner must ensure that his/her presence is not changing the behaviors of the Developers. If the Product Owner has got any comment or question, they should raise it only after the Daily Scrum concludes.
If Product is also involved in the development activities, then Product Owner participates in Daily Scrumone of the Developers.
3. Sprint Review
In my experience, Sprint Review is the most neglected and misunderstood Scrum event. For Product Owners, this could be the most beneficial event.
- First, the Product Owner should identify the right stakeholders ( whose feedback and information can maximize the value)
- To build the context and alignment, the Product Owner should start the event with the Product Vision and the Product Goal. This will also act as a reminder of the big picture to everyone: the Scrum Team as well as stakeholders.
- Product Owner or any other Scrum Team members sgould share the Sprint Goal and connect how this Sprint Goal is a stepping stone towards the Product Goal.
- Scrum Team shares the Done Increment with the stakeholders and stakeholders provides feedback.
- The feedback is really crucial for the Product Owner and it helps in maximising the value.
- Product Owner also seek for any information which he/she might not be aware of and can influence the future of the Product. This information may lead to changes in the Product Backlog.
- Product Owner also shares the progress towards the Product Goal and what could be delivered next. This brings alignment and transparency.
4. Sprint Retrospective
Product Owner attends Sprint Retrospective as a Scrum Team member and equally participates in inspecting the Sprint in terms of people, behaviors, tools, processes, and quality.
- Myth: Product Owner is optional is the Sprint Retropective.
- Few improvement actions that can really help a Product Owners are
- Right level of details (description, estimate, value, users/customers, size) in the Product Backlog items
- Relationship/communication between the Product Owner and the other Scrum Team members
- Frequency/amount of Product Backlog refinement
- Measuring value and associated metrics post release
- Right stakeholders and communications with them