Product Owner

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Do you really need a Product Owner?

I recently was visiting with a potential client about the need for a Product Owner.  They asked: “How much time will the person assigned as Product Owner need to dedicate to this project?”

This is a very common question that we get from clients. The answer I give is always the same:  How important is this project to your organization?”

The response is almost always the same:  “This project is part of our strategic objectives and it is crucial to the company’s success, but we can’t spare a Product Owner for that much time.”

This is where things get interesting.

If a project is critical to your organization in any way, you must provide a dedicated Product Owner.

If you can not provide a Product Owner, your project is doomed for failure.

How can you not dedicate someone to work with the team to ensure that it delivers that highest values features, to inspect and adapt during the course of delivery? Why would you not want someone working with the team to help them understand each piece of functionality from the perspective of the users?

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Why would you not want a Product Owner to learn about the new technology, to learn the advantages, disadvantages, and conceptually how all the pieces work together? Why would you not want a Product Owner to learn to communicate with the team as well as outside stakeholders?

Why would you not want the project to be a success?

Let’s state this in another way:

  • confused-faceYou would never plan a wedding by contacting a wedding planner, provide a few requirements, and then just show up on the big day.
  • You would never build a house by just approving architectural diagrams without doing continuous walk-thrus during the building process.
  • You would never trust a financial adviser to ‘get you to your retirement’ without constant planning sessions to review your needs, goals, and priorities.

No matter how much effort you take in creating a top notch, high performing, self-organized team, they will only be as successful as the quality of the Product Owner. Even the best teams need to understand the value stream of an organization. They need someone to help keep them on the right path. If left to their own devises, the team will build what they THINK is important rather than building something they KNOW is important.  This will most certainly not provide items of the highest value. Priorities shift, requirements change, objectives change, customers change – the team needs someone to help them understand all of this.

The company needs someone to protect their investment

– that is the role of the Product Owner.

 

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To increase the effectiveness of your Product Owners, check out our training course, Scrum Master & Product Owner. Schedule a course for your organization now!

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