Discover the Product Owner’s function in Agile’s team

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4 min read

In Agile’s project management, more specifically in Scrum method, each person inside the team’s project has his own mission. The development team works with the Scrum Master and the Product Owner, also called PO.

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Product Owner (PO) in Agile’s team, responsible for the product vision

PO’s position is central in Agile’s approach: it’s him who transforms the client’s needs in value for the product. He also ensures the whole team shares the same product’s vision for each sprint and throughout the development! Let’s discover together all the aspects of the PO’s job in Agile’s methods, as well as the qualities and tools he uses.

The Product Owner function, bring the product vision in Agile Scrum teams, responsible for the agility!
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The Product Owner, responsible for the product vision in Agile Scrum’s teams

In Scrum method, value is created at the end of each sprint, when the development team delivers a new version of the product, named increment. The product vision, build by the PO, gives meaning to the whole project and for each iteration. 

This vision can take many shapes: a slogan, a drawing… It relies on any material easily memorizable for the team! Thanks to it, developers will have a shared vision of the product that should be developed, and will be guided during the iterations. The goal is, for each increment, to answer to the product’s vision created by the Product Owner.

The role of the Product Owner is to explain to the team’s members why they are working on this project. He ensures that they never lose sight of the product’s values and vision. The PO doesn’t invent the product vision without thinking. Some analysis is necessary to find THE vision matching the product and the project.

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The Product Owner, connecting point between the client and the Agile development team

The Product Owner is at a key position between the various actors of the Agile’s project. He is the liaison point between the client’s expectations and the Agile’s team. He guides the development team throughout the sprints by identifying the value brought during each sprint! While defining and sharing a clear product vision, he guarantees that the increments realized delivered the value expected.

PO function: collect clients’ feedback

To build properly the product’s vision and to guide the Agile team throughout the project, it is important to collect the client’s expectations regarding his product. Then, the PO can gather all the items. They will be classified in the Product Backlog, and developed during the sprints. The collaboration with the client is a corner stone of the Agile’s manifesto.

On the contrary of projects relaying on V model or waterfall model, specification aren’t frozen in Agile’s method. They evolve alongside the project, and allow a greater agility, while emphasizing continuous improvement. By implementing an Agile methodology, you will avoid the tunnel effect you can find in traditional’s methods.

The PO gather all the demands concerning the product evolution, prioritizes them or refuses them (if necessary). Maintaining up to date the product backlog is a way to ensure that the features the development team is working on are clearly identified, understood by all and still adding value to the project.

PO function: write User Stories

To define properly the Product Backlog’s items, the Product Owner has to detail each of them using an User Story. By defining precisely the product’s targets (thanks to personas) and by leading extensive user studies, the PO is able to identify which features bring value and should be developed inside the product. 

The Product Backlog is the first column of the kanban’s board, and allows the development team to create his planning and visualize his progresses.

The Product Backlog, one of the Product Owner’s responsibilities. It is composed of all the project’s User Stories

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Product Owner qualities in an Agile development

You’ve got it, being responsible for the product’s vision in a Scrum’s team is not a small business. A Product Owner needs to own many qualities in order to realize his work in an optimal way.

The PO is not a project manager! His function is not to supervise and oversee the teams. Only to remind them the product’s vision defined at the beginning of the project and align teams on it. With his central position between the other roles taking part into the product development, the Product Owner needs to master some soft skills.

A PO’s quality: empathy

A PO needs to show empathy, to step into the shoes of the final users as well as analyze properly their needs, in order to write powerful, comprehensive and precise user stories. This empathy will be put as good use for the team work. It will help the PO to understand the obstacles encountered by the different members of the development team!

The PO, an experienced communicator

The Agile Product Owner needs to be a good communicator, to explain the product’s vision to all the development team’s members. He needs to rally the whole team around the vision, and therefore should be able to explain and defend it. The vision permits to create a cohesion inside an Agile’s team!

The PO, a pillar of Agile project team

You’ve understood it, the PO’s function is central in an Agile Scrum’s team. He is in charge to maximize the value of the product created by the development team. It’s the joint work of the PO, the Scrum Master and the development team that will ensure the delivery of a product with strong added value, answering the final users’ needs and the client’s expectations.

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