The product owner is a full-time job.
BERND SCHIFFER, first published on 29/11/2011
In contrast to the Scrum master role which is often questioned whether it is a full-time job, the product owner role is almost never questioned being a full-time job. One exception: Roman Pichler presented “The Partial Product Owner” in his book Agile Product Management with Scrum.
However, in my experience a lot of product owners have problems to focus on their job.
Often they are part of some kind of speciality department with lots of commitments not directly related to the product they should develop in their Scrum team. The product owner is a full-time job. Look at those 37 tasks I’d say are part of a product owner’s job (☼ = explicitly together with the development team):
- Developing and adapting the product vision.
- Writing new user stories (☼).
- Splitting user stories which are too big (☼).
- Specifying acceptance criteria for each user story (☼).
- Writing acceptance tests (☼).
- Ordering the product backlog (via ROI, Kano model, cost-value, MoSCoW method, etc.).
- Doing release planning.
- Grooming your product backlog (think INVEST and DEEP).
- Observing, learning about and analyzing the market.
- Observing, learning about, contacting and analyzing customers and end users of the product.
- Keeping in touch with every stakeholder of the product regularly.
- Report to management and stakeholders (e.g. release burndown).
- Sharing insights throughout the company regarding the product (micro-blogging, blogging, internal conferences, etc.).
- Deciding what to build and what not (☼).
- Giving feedback to the development team
during the sprint to the work accomplished by the development team
about their process and interactions.
- Doing Gemba Walks.
- Claiming and explaining a one-click-deploy to keep down transaction costs.
- Claiming and explaining a 10-minute build to preserve fast feedback.
- Claiming and explaining feature flags to preserve flexibility.
- Providing and teaching every available business number to the development team to connect them with the product and its customers to make informed decisions together.
- Participating in Scrum meetings:
Providing sprint goal and new user stories for sprint planning.
Giving feedback regarding the achievement of the sprint goal in the sprint review.
Reflecting and taking action as a team member in the sprint retrospective.
Informing, helping and learning in the daily scrum.
- Helping the team to continuously improve their process.
- Continuing to learn about everything Agile (e.g. visit user groups, attend conferences, read books, write blogs, etc.).
- Exchanging constantly with other product owners in the organisation (e.g. through community of practice).
- Playing with the product.
- Learning and refining your product’s whole value stream, like procurement upstream and marketing and sales downstream.
- Measuring progress (e.g. value delivered to clients in each sprint).
You’ve done and/or considered everything mentioned above? You’re sitting with the team, you’re totally empowered, and your product is a huge success? Awesome! Go out and throw your team and yourself a big party!
The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team.– Scrum Guide
Bernd Schiffer is an Agile coach, trainer and consultant in Melbourne, Australia. He founded his own Agile company called Bold Mover, and he’s been doing Agile and Lean for about 14 years. He often works at the client’s introducing Scrum and Kanban at team and management level. He deeply cares about his work, and he’s passionate about running long distances.