Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The best Product Owner

Product Owner's Qualities and Characteristics:

1) Engaged in the product life cycle: The best PO is engaged in the entire product development life cycle. A dis-engaged PO finds him/herself outside of the process quickly. An engaged PO is a natural leader. S/he finds himself leading a team through his decisions and makes it apparent to the team that s/he is committed to not only the process, but the final product as well.

2) Always Available: The best PO is available to the team, but with a reason. It is important to co-locate the PO within the team so they have zero walls to climb in order to receive feedback and potentially daily guidance. The availability can come at a cost, with an immature team who is lacking the accountability and responsibility of building the needed project. Be tactful here and give a healthy balance between availability and spoon-feeding a development team. Sometimes empowering the team to help themselves can create a partnership between team and PO that improves productivity!

3) Informed about the product – The best PO know the product inside and out. Subject matter experts on not only the product but also the market will be prepared for giving updated feedback and guidance to a development team. Understanding beyond the product can help here as well, but core to the PO role is his/her ability to intimately know and understand the product they are helping a development team to build.

4) Empowered through humility – The best PO is the authority for product. S/he has been given the official right to make executive calls on product direction and feature-set. S/he has been granted this permission and power through her/his ability to lead with humility. They show their humility by making the right choices, and correcting poor product choices through due diligence and research. They intimately know their power comes at a price, because in the end, their power of decision can make a company grow, or fall into obscurity with poor product development.

5) Prepared and responsible – The best PO is always prepared. S/he comes to the ceremonial meetings prepared and ready to make decisions and take action. Preparation is the key here. S/he gains trust from the development team because the team knows that the PO is always prepared and responsible for the outcome of the product specifications and features. Development teams like go to the nearest “prepared” individual for better guidance and direction if the “official” PO isn’t giving justice to her/his role.

6) Knowledgeable about history – The best PO has spent enough time on the product in the company. S/he has seen the ups and downs of the product life-cycles, and understand how the customer values the product. S/he must have a firm foundation of knowledge to pull from when decisions need to be made. S/he knows the historical path of poor product development and poor product launches. And sometimes, s/he was the reason. But s/he learned and used that experience to create even better products and services.

7) Communicative in nature – The best PO is natural communicator. S/he knows how to leverage communication to get their point across so they can give undiluted guidance and direction to a development team. S/he knows how to reach not only the customer, but knows how to speak the development language. Developers respect, trust, and look forward to working with a communicative PO. S/he respect the PO because the PO knows how to speak on the level of the developer and may even, know how to code and develop himself!

8) Collaborative by choice – The best PO is team player. S/he values the team and collaborates effectively with the team in regards to providing timely and valuable feedback. Collaboration is a choice. It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes commitment. The worst PO says “Here is what I want and get it done by tomorrow”. The best PO says “Here is what we can do for our customer and let’s see how we can build it in the best possible way!”

9) Agile in all things – The best PO is flexible, in all things. S/he understands that software development is not a hardened process, but fluid, all the time. S/he works collaboratively with the team when changes must be made. S/he doesn’t get angry when previously unknown impediments and constraints come up. S/he is flexible because s/he is prepared with - a prioritized backlog, daily communication with the teams, intense research on the product and market. And that’s the true “Agile”.

Product Owner's Roles and Responsibilities:
1) The role needs active participation in all phases of project life cycle in Agile Process.
2) Needs to actively work with Product Management team to gather the software requirements and convert those in the form of user stories – Acceptance Criteria.
3) Draft acceptance criteria for each story.
4) Create screen mock ups for new screens. Work on user experience improvement ideas and get those approved by management.
5) Analyze database changes needed for each story.
6) Perform user acceptance testing. Take accountability of accepting the work done by the team.
7) Consistently work on improving one’s domain knowledge.
8) Prepare documentation for changes in each user story.
9) Participate in retrospectives with valuable inputs to the team.
10) The role needs to make sure that team understands the stories without any communication gap between the team and Product Manager.
11) Very active participation in business/functional requirement gathering, analysis and understanding, clarification sessions.
12) Active participation in design of application user interface, flow diagrams and integration activities with various other applications.
13) Mentor junior and new resources in the team from functionality standpoint.
14) This role needs candidate on call or meetings sometimes in extended hours.
15) This role might need some visits (on need basis) to customer sites.
16) Proactively work towards agile best practices implementation from business analysis view.
17) Maintains good communication and co-ordination with team members, business partners and other stake holders as appropriate.
18) Contribute to all team efforts. Support and participate in collecting data related to organization metrics & adherence to scrum process.

19) Work with the supervisor to bridge the gaps identified in scrum process audits.

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