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What is a Product Owner In Agile?

If you’re using a scrum development framework, then you will have heard the term product owner being used before. However, you may not have known what exactly it means. 

The Product Owner (PO) is a member of the Agile Team with a lot of important roles and responsibilities. They streamline the execution of a project, so it’s crucial that you know what they do.

From traditional web work or emerging technology initiatives, a project will be in need of a clear direction in vision and objectives. This is the role of an agile product owner, helping innovation and digital transformation to move forward. 

In this article we’re running through what you can expect from this role and what the characteristics of a great PO are. Take a look…

  • What Is An Agile Product Owner?

 A PO is a scrum development role for a representative of a business or user community. They are responsible for liaising with the user group in order to determine what will feature in the product release.

They are the key link between the development team and customers’, collaborating with both parties to ensure clear communication of what is needed in the product or application. In this sense, they kind of hold the product development together and ensure that things move forward. 

In order to navigate the various needs of customers and users, a product owner requires a comprehensive understanding of the business domain. They are the go-to person when it comes to understanding the business requirements and how the plans map onto those objectives.

The first step in a scrum sprint is a planning meeting. This is where the product owner demonstrates to the development team which requirements and features of the application are priorities.  

  • What Are The Responsibilities Of The Product Owner?

Scrum PO responsibilities include:

·        Defining the vision of the application

The agile product owner is the point person on the product development team. It is their job to define a development vision and clarify long-term goals. These goals are communicated with stakeholders across the board in order to ensure the vision is aligned correctly with business objectives. This will often include a product roadmap – a strategic visual summary outlining the direction for the product offering over time.

·        Prioritizing features of the application

Prioritizing needs is another essential role of the PO. Fundamentally, this means managing the triangle of scope, budget, and time. They will weigh up these priorities in relation to the goals of the stakeholders.

·        Adjusting the features and priorities as needed after each sprint or iteration

It follows that the product owner is responsible at each step in the development process as well as the final product. They take on primary inspection and evaluation of product progress. At each iteration the product owner will make a judgement call on how the product is performing and realign the priorities based on progress.

It is at these points that they may decide to return to the drawing board if performance isn’t up to scratch. This is where ‘agile’ product owners live up to the name. They need to be adaptable, keeping a variety of tools and solutions up their sleeves for the changing environments.

  • What Traits Does A Product Owner Need To Have?

 A product owner will be someone with certain skills, such as availability, business savvy and communication skills.

 Availability may seem a strange skill, but first and foremost a product owner needs to be available to their team. A strong commitment to building a product means being actively and regularly engaged with their teams. This is why often you see CEOs and Founders taking on the role of Agile Product Owner themselves as they are the people who have the most time to give to the project.

Being business savvy may also sound like something intangible, but an agile product owner is a key decision maker regarding what features the product will have. This means that they have to have an intimate understanding of the market in order to make well-placed business moves.

Communication is also crucial for a product owner when working with key stakeholders. There will be many different lines of communication at any point in time that the product owner manages throughout the project. They are the link between it all.

ENO8 guides businesses through the product development process with our proprietary innovation process and a best-in-class, experienced team. Get in touch to learn more about how we can help your business.


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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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