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What is a Product Owner?

A Product Owner is the member of the Scrum Team that is accountable for “maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team.”

The Scrum Team as a whole is accountable for creating a valuable product, specifically “for creating a valuable, useful Increment every Sprint.” It’s the Product Owner who helps the rest of the Scrum Team gain clarity about what would be “valuable.”

The Scrum Guide outlines the Product Owner’s accountabilities as “effective Backlog Management, including

  • Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal;
  • Creating and clearly communicating Product Backlog items;
  • Ordering Product Backlog items; and,
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible and understood.”


Those very new to Scrum may read these accountabilities and conclude that it is a very tactical job, centered around administration of the backlog. Nothing is further from the truth!

The Product Owner owns the product vision. They play a crucial role in guiding the rest of the Scrum Team toward a shared understanding of the product’s value, purpose, goals and direction. A professional Product Owner uses both agile product management and Scrum skills to fulfill their responsibilities:

  • Product Owners use agile product management skills and techniques to manage the product lifecycle and its long-term business objectives. Examples include: market research and competitive analysis; product strategy; product roadmapping; acting as the voice of the customer; engaging with stakeholders; maximizing revenue and return on investment; product launch; and product retirement.
  • Product Owners Scrum and the elements of the Scrum framework to deliver on their vision of the product. For example: applying empiricism and experimentation for product and value discovery; crafting concrete, actionable and measurable Product Goals to provide focus for the Scrum Team; and using strong backlog management techniques to help communicate steps toward the Product Goal.


In order to maximize the value of the work of the Scrum Team, the Product Owner must provide timely decision-making and guidance to the team. This requires that the accountabilities of the Product Owner and the outcome of the work the team does, rest with one person. They cannot be distributed across several people or a committee. However, the Product Owner may delegate the responsibility of doing the work to others.


Resources:

Learning Series
The Product Vision describes the purpose of a Product. A good Product Vision expresses the value the Product should deliver and to whom that value is delivered.
Learning Series
Product Backlog Management is the act of adjusting and ordering items on the Product Backlog so that the Scrum Team can deliver the most valuable product possible. This learning series explores Product Backlog Management.

 

 

Blog Post
Product Owners are a critical role in the Scrum Framework, but what does a Product Owner do? This blog post will discuss the day-to-day activities of this position and explore how these accountabilities create successful projects.
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Learning Series
This learning series highlights 9 ways a Product Owner can boost their effectiveness.

 

 

Learning Series
This learning series contains a list of interview questions that you may encounter as a Product Owner, and the reason why the question is relevant to the Product Owner accountability.

 

 

 

Book
by Don McGreal and Ralph Jocham - Whatever your role in product management or agile development may be, this guide will help you deliver products that offer more value, more rapidly, and more often.
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Book
Product owners, managers, and team leads will find this guide indispensable along with Agile/Scrum coaches, consultants, and executives wanting to generate more value from product management across the organization.
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Learning Series
A Product Owner is the member of the Scrum Team that is accountable for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. Learn more about what that means and a few of the common myths about Product Owners.