The product owner is the pivotal role in enabling the seamless flow of development from value to product.
The product owner is the person who connects two key functions and associated groups of people: the ones who identify what value is needed (the business) and the ones who determine how and implement it (development team).
- To the development team, the product owner represents the enterprise business value and the needs of program level stakeholders, defining and prioritizing the team backlog.
- To the business, the product owner represents the development team: the value that has been realized and the needs they have.
The product owner is the proxy for the customer, the go between for those who define value at the minimum business increment level, primarily product managers, and those who implement value into working software, the development teams. Seen this way, the product owner is like the transmission of a car.
- The engine of the car is those who define the value. The wheels are those who implement value.
- The product owner connects the engine to the wheels by answering the development team’s questions about the value they will implement. The product owner is the team’s main source for insights into customer and stakeholder motivation. The product owner helps the team know just what the end customer or the enterprise is expecting of their products.
- The product owner connects the wheels to the engine by feeding back implementation issues to those who define the value. The definers of value may be able to redefine it in a way that is simpler or less expensive or even simply possible to implement. This also lets the definers of value know when something is going to be delivered later or at higher cost due to technical difficulties.
A Note About Roles
As stated in People first: Roles in DAD,
- On a DAD team, any given person will be in one or more roles, an individual can change their role(s) over time, and any given role will have zero or more people performing it at any given time.
- Roles are not positions, nor are they meant to be. For example, there may be many stakeholders of your project and none of them is likely to have a position of “stakeholder.”
- Agile de-emphasizes specialized roles and considers all team members equal – everyone pitches in to deliver a working solution regardless of their job description.
For information, see People first: Roles in DAD
The product owner provides the critical connection between those who define value and those who implement it. The product owner makes it possible for the teams to produce the value that the enterprise needs.
The product owner role is responsible for the following:
- Be available to the team to answer questions.
- Help the team understand each story and its acceptance criteria.
- Manage and refine the team backlog as needed.
- Sequence the work on the team backlog appropriately and coach the team if they are not working in the proper order.
- Assess and accept work completed.
- Work with release management.
- Acceptance test-driven development
- Capturing functional requirements
- Controlling work-in-process (WIP)
- Daily coordination
- Decomposing a feature into stories
- Iteration demonstration and review
- Iteration demonstration and review (plan)
- Iteration planning meeting
- Iteration retrospective
- Operational metrics
- Unfinished work
- Visual controls
Customize for Your Context
In Disciplined Agile, context counts. Each organization and each team can have its own ways of working. Please treat the articles in this reading path as a starting point. Adapt the content to fit your context. Please provide your feedback if you have suggestions for how to improve them.