Monday, 17 November 2014

The Value of a Product Owner

One of my existing agile consultancy clients has booked me in this week to do some follow up coaching and consultancy after our initial session. The client in question faced one of the most common challenges that teams I encounter are facing - lack of/confused/mixed/missing product ownership.

With this in mind, the follow up session has a focus on what is product ownership, who makes a good product owner and the value of having one dedicated product owner.

As I am going to be going over in detail some of these points with my client this week, I thought that I would share with you some of my key thoughts on product ownership.

Product Owners...

  1. Are responsible for the product, but this doesn't mean that they should be afraid or too proud to ask for help.
  2. Are part of the team - they should feel part of the development team.
  3. Are not "the boss" of the team.
  4. Are there to make the life easy for the development team. I try my best to constantly remind my team this!
  5. Need to be close to their stakeholders.
  6. Need to have an interest in technology (or whatever sector your product sits in).
  7. Must make brave and sometimes unpopular decisions (try telling your CEO that they cannot have a feature that they love!).
  8. May not be appreciated by the organisation at first (especially organisations new to SCRUM, agile etc) but must celebrate their successes in order to earn respect.
  9. Should not pass the blame.
  10. Are critical to the success of the product.
I think that the following sums up the importance of great product ownership perfectly:

The best computer programmers ever in the team + a poor Product Owner = A really great but ultimately WRONG product

Average computer programmers in the team + a great Product Owner = The RIGHT product (eventually!)

The client that I am working with really understand this and want to educate their team and are looking to recruit a Product Owner from within the organisation's ranks. This is a great strategy for them as the new Product Owner will already be familiar with the product, stakeholders and the team that they will be working so closely with.

Product ownership is so hard to get right, but once you do, your company will reap the benefits!

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