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Is the Product Owner Accountable For Return On Investment (ROI)?

November 21, 2019

Is Product Owner accountable for Return on Investment (ROI)? The answer is YES, The Product Owner is accountable for ROI.The most frequent question I get while teaching, mentoring or coaching product owners is — how do I calculate ROI when I don’t even know cost of a Sprint?

If as a Product Owner, if you do not know the investment for each Sprint and expected return how do you prioritize the Backlog and engage stakeholders?

This is made even more difficult in project environment with shared team members. So as a first step think of building team(s) around product not project to have better control over ROI.

I feel elated, when Product Owner talks numbers like we grew at 24% when the industry was growing only at 7%, our bottom line also grew at 14% but we know what our customers like and we are making progress in the right direction.

I love it when Product Owners are not talking about what is user story, difference between stories and epics, and how to write better user story? I am not saying it is bad to talk about user stories and format of user stories, but strongly feel this is not something really important as long as you are able to articulate precisely what next you want in your product and why.

So here is a list of things I have seen good Product Owners do:

  • They talk about product vision and work with team to build alignment. Good vision statement and continuous focus helps in setting boundaries for self-organized team to experiment and stay focused.
  • They know the cost of each Sprint and expected outcome (either in terms of business value or customer satisfaction) that helps in setting priorities and dealing with challenging stakeholders. They keep a close tab on the market trends and how their products are performing in the market.
  • They know what they need to do in order to optimize cost to lower bottom line like focusing on automation, reducing technical debt and design debt. They are aware that good technical solution will reduce the total cost of ownership.
  • They know how to engage stakeholders and manage their expectations. They know precisely whom to invite in sprint review, involve them in setting priorities and connect them to team in order to reduce communication gap.
  • They are good story teller than story writer. They know how to communicate requirement in form of stories that helps team connect better with customer/business needs.
  • They know what to release in market or to customer/business and when. They do understand that while each sprint work is important and are releasable, there is no compulsion to release unless it makes sense or the timing is right.

This is what I teach and coach the Product Owners on.

Thank you reading and if you are a product owner or if you are coaching Product Owners then feel free to connect with me over mail, LinkedIn or WhatsApp so that we can learn from each other or at a minimum have some meaningful and interesting conversations.

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