January 28, 2016
The Product Owner must have a good understanding of the overall business strategy so they can ensure that the vision for their product aligns with the strategic goals of the company. Learn more about the key aspects of the role of the Product Owner in Agile methodologies, by Janice Sudell.
When I started working at giffgaff nearly 5 years ago, I moved from my role in testing into one as a Project Manager. Then a couple of years later when giffgaff committed to fully transitioning from a waterfall methodology towards a more agile approach they offered me the opportunity to move into the role of Product Owner for the giffgaff website. So for more than half of my career at QualiTest I have been a bit of an anomaly in the sense that I haven’t actually done a lot of testing at all! So here is a little bit about what I do instead…
A Product Owner sits within a business area and owns their product on behalf of the company. Currently I work as PO for the Business Intelligence team who provide data driven insights to the wider business helping them make key business decisions. In order to do this, the team need somewhere to store and process the data so we have a data warehouse for which I manage changes, and to move this to the next level we are in the process of implementing a Big Data environment which I am also responsible for.
In order to carry out their role, the PO needs a good understanding of the overall business strategy so that they can ensure the vision for their product aligns with the strategic goals of the company as well as providing value to its customers (or members as they are called at giffgaff). With this information the PO can put together a roadmap of changes for the product which will help achieve these goals.
Another key aspect of the role is communication with the stakeholders of the product. There are often lots of people who want changes to be made and the PO has to work with them to make decisions on the priority order of these changes so they can organise the backlog and work with the development team to get them implemented. Sometimes this can involve difficult conversations as people don’t always get what they want as the Product Owner always has to consider how each change will fit with the strategy and make sure that the most value is realised by releasing the right changes at the right time.
The development and QA teams are also key stakeholders and the PO has to work very closely with them to make sure the requirements are clear so that the end result is what is expected. POs attend planning sessions with the team to discuss what can realistically be delivered and when so they can communicate this back to the stakeholders. The Product Owner needs to work closely with the Scrum Master to ensure that there is continuous improvement and feedback (and to make sure the PO isn’t pushing the team to deliver things that they don’t have time to do!) but Lydia will tell you more about that next.