The Product Owner, conductor of the agile method

Manon Iribarne
13 / 07 / 2018

The Product Owner has appeared on the corporate landscape with the development of agile culture. Agility challenges traditional project management and prizes companies which are continuously evolving. While some still believe that agility is a recent methodology, it has been revolutionising the IT world since the beginning of the 1990s with the emergence of the Scrum method, followed by the agile method in 2001. In the space of 30 years, business teams, from the smallest to the largest, have been making their mark in this evolution.

What is a Product Owner?

A Product Owner is the person in charge of managing the IT development team which comprises developers, designers, UX designers, etc. Their main task is to develop, in an agile way, a product that comes close to perfection in terms of business value for users.

If the presence of the Product Owner has become popularised in IT and more generally in the digital field, this is partly because the PO facilitates project management while also having technical knowledge about the product.

These hybrid individuals must be able to interact with each of the people involved in the development cycle. They need to convey the requirement to the development teams and make the product’s technical specifications more accessible for the business lines involved. They are the link between the internal team that they are managing and the external stakeholders. Being responsible for the project running smoothly, they rank and prioritise the different objectives and then translate the requirements into a specification or “user stories”.

In addition to their specific duties, they guarantee the quality of the outcome and must verify that the product or features correspond to the business’s expectations. When a specific development is completed, Product Owners carry out a number of tests before sending it into production. They are in constant contact with business teams and collect feedback and comments.

“The truth is that our job is to change our world. It’s not about collecting and managing functional requirements.” – Jeff Patton

What qualities are needed?

Acting as translators, Swiss army knives and conductors combined,  POs are known for their ability to listen, coordinate, interpret and be precise!

#1 Be ready to listen! 

Communication and listening skills are the two key skills needed to successfully lead an agile project. POs need to have an understanding of the needs of the client and user and to be able to convey these needs to their technical teams. They must also be understanding in order to deal with difficult situations and support their teams. (See: emotional skills) Because no new idea is ever bad, they need to encourage discussion between those involved in a project.

#2 Prioritise and don’t be afraid to make unpopular decisions! 

The role of POs isn’t to please everyone and satisfy all of their colleagues’ needs. As part of an agile cycle, they need to prioritise business development requests depending on what has the most added value for the user, in addition to their technical complexity, costs and interconnections.

#3 Run the show with gusto! 

Being a good manager is something that can be learnt! You need to make yourself available and have patience and empathy while also carrying out your own tasks.

#4 Be organised and methodical: 

They pay attention to detail and have a keen eye. Organisation is the key to success! The PO needs to maintain an overview for each of the ongoing projects and monitor their progress. Bubblz aids the management of the development processes by allowing the PO to formalise the steps of their processes, execute them and analyse activity in real time.

#5 Be bilingual !

We’re not asking you to become fluent in Mandarin, don't worry! But you need to learn to adapt to your audience. Don’t forget that the business with the need doesn’t speak “SOURCE CODE” and as such you need to translate the technical specifications of the developments for them and make sure they have all the elements necessary to facilitate understanding.

#6 An ability to summarise and demonstrate rigour! 

In addition to being appreciated in the company, these qualities signify professionalism and confidence.

You are a Product Owner and you want to:

  • Concentrate on the objective to be achieved and changes brought to users before planning to produce the deliverables.
  • Use a simple tool to visualise and manage your operation effectively in order to achieve the desired outcome. Goodbye Excel, Word and post-its of any kind.

Digitalise your working methods by managing development cycles on Bubblz!

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