We’ve converted the ‘Product Owner’ definition from the 2013 Scrum Guide into cartoon form to illustrate the role of a Product Owner in a Scrum team.
(from the 2013 Scrum Guide)
The Product Owner
The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team. How this is done may vary widely across organizations, Scrum Teams, and individuals.
The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog. Product Backlog management includes:
- Clearly expressing Product Backlog items;
- Ordering the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions;
- Ensuring the value of the work the Development Team performs;
- Ensuring that the Product Backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum Team will work on next; and,
- Ensuring the Development Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.
The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable.
The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the desires of a committee in the Product Backlog, but those wanting to change a backlog item’s priority must convince the Product Owner.
For the Product Owner to succeed, the entire organization must respect his or her decisions. The Product Owner’s decisions are visible in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog. No
one is allowed to tell the Development Team to work from a different set of requirements, and the Development Team isn’t allowed to act on what anyone else says.
Adam Cogan, Chief Architect at SSW and Certified Scrum Trainer, has more tips on his blog:
What does a good Product Owner need to do?
- Be available for Sprint Reviews, Retrospectives and Sprint Planning meetings (approximately half a day for these 3 meetings, for each 2 week sprint).
- Order the Product Backlog. The important things will be done first, in order to maximize the ROI as the budget will run out one day.
- Be available, at least remotely, to unblock a developer if he has questions/impediments. A good PO has a feeling of urgency.
- Ideally listen in on Daily Scrums. This is optional but means that the PO will have daily insight into the team’s progress.
- Understand Product Backlog Items (PBIs) and be able to explain what they want using Acceptance Criteria. This is the main way that developers and POs sync their understanding of what needs to be done.
- Agree on a Sprint Goal for each sprint.
- Not influence (or anchor) developer estimates with comments like “this one will be easy” and allow the team to come up with converged estimates.
- Respect the Sprint Goal. Understand that the team will only work on things in the Sprint Backlog and don’t expect other things to be done as well. Most things can wait for the next sprint.