What does a Product Owner do?
The two most notable roles in Scrum are the Scrum Master and Product Owners. But what do Product Owners do during the Sprint? What are the Product Owners activities?
The Scrum Guide gives us some ideas around what good Product Owners do. But Product Owner activities are still quite vague if the Scrum guide is all you’re looking at. So lets break down the Product Owners activities during the Sprint.
Broadly speaking the Product Owner is working in three areas.
- Product Work
- Developer/Team Engagement
- Stakeholder Management
Lets break down what is generally involved in each area.
Good Product Owners are empirical and data driven. Gone are days when new products and services are launched on a wing and prayer. Now Product Ownership is based on testing the market with ideas. And seeing the response from potential customers. Product Ownership is about testing to learn and guide product and service ideas.
So what kinds of things will a Product Owner be doing in this area of their work.
- Coming up with Product Hypotheses
- Generating testing methods to validate Product ideas
- Creating Product Roadmaps to visualise releases over time
- Ordering the Product Backlog
- Writing or reviewing Product Backlog items
- Aligning Products to the organisations strategic goals
- Managing trade-offs between various product features
- Generating Product Goals
- Coming up with compelling Product Visions
- Reviewing data around releases and test results
- Managing costs and budgets
All of the above is around shaping Products that deliver value to clients and customers.
Once a Product Owner has a firm idea of how a Product adds value and has planned out a roadmap for delivery to market, the next piece is about communicating to developers. To do this well Product Owners are usually found
- Running Sprint Planning meetings
- Chairing Sprint Refinement meetings
- Facilitating Sprint Review meetings
- Being available to answer questions and challenges during the Sprint
The Sprint Planning and Sprint Refinement meetings help the developers understand and create meaningful Sprint Goals and Backlogs.
During Sprint Planning the Product Owner brings the Developers up to speed around the Product Roadmap, Product Goals and they collaborate around what Product Backlog Items need to be selected to generate the focused Sprint Backlog and Sprint Goal.
In Sprint Refinement – the Developers work with the Product Owner to break down Product Backlog Items, discuss what good outcomes actually look like. During Refinement, Developers may discus technical solutions or question the value or ordering of the intended Product Backlog Items
These events ensure that the developers know what good outcomes are. The point is to eliminate confusion. Developers should never have any doubt in terms of what needs to be done. And with a good clear vision of what needs to be delivered, the developers can work out how.
This communication from the Product Owners to the Developers is critical. So, Product Owners spend the necessary time to ensure that the Developers are well armed with the right information to do their jobs well.
Stakeholder Management is where the Product Owner works with Stakeholders to keep them appraised of the products progress, manage or review budgets as well collaborate on the future progress of the Product. Although the Sprint Review is the formal event in Scrum Product Owners will communicate at various times throughout the Sprint as and when needed.
So there you have it, an overview of what a Product Owner does during the Sprint. The Product Owners role is central to a successful Scrum Team. Professional Product Owners are needed to ensure that the Scrum Team are constantly getting value out to the market.
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Good luck in your Scrum journey!