Monday, May 4, 2009

Role and Importance of a Product Owner

In Mike Cohn’s post about Upcoming Books, one title caught my attention “Product Management: Turning Ideas into Winning Products with Scrum”. Here are some sample chapters

I have been attending sessions of the Atlanta Scrum Group. Last week one of the points we discussed was that product owners or rather the lack of product owners in the group.

A couple of discussions with some clients revealed the impact of not having product owners.

It is very easy to create a unmarketable technical marvels when you don’t have have a good product owner. The product owner is the person who should identify the critical needs of the customer and ensure that the every release to the end customer meets the customer’s critical needs.

She/He is the one who:

a) should decide how early or when the product has to be released for it to be successful.

b) define good user stories and prioritize them

c) guide the product team from a functional perspective.

From what i have seen so far, it is very hard for technologists to succeed as product owners. Technology specialists usually focus on making the product as the best designed product in the market. But the need of the hour may be a product that will solve the customer’s problem and not a technology marvel. No, i am not criticizing the technical gurus here or their importance, just stressing on the balance.

At the end of the day, what is important is for the business to succeed. The vision for successful products is the responsibility of the product owner, the architects convert the vision to a high quality product.

The problem, however, seems to be that we lack good product owners. Are we failing to understand their value? Not having a good product owner could result is in delay in getting a useable product, unmarketable product etc.

I have seen some real examples of the impact of not having a good product owner and the results because of a good product owner.

I hope this upcoming book will help developing some great product owners.

Agile can also fail in spite of all the great advantages it has if the basics are not right. Not having a good product owner is a failure in the basics.