What does it mean to be a Product Owner?

Written by Alex Karasyov

At Rangle, we partner with our clients to deliver high-quality software. As part of this partnership, we often ask our clients to assign a Product Owner (PO) to help drive our team towards delivering software with the biggest Return On Investment (ROI). So, what does it mean to be a PO?

Be the Product Expert

You know the product. You know the customers. You know the desired business outcomes. The value you bring to the team is connecting their technical and product design skills with your knowledge of the customers and the product space. Your knowledge is what makes you a very valuable member of the team and what helps the team make the tough technical tradeoffs as they are building software.

Be a Part of the Team

You are part of the team. You learn and grow with the team. You are available on a daily basis to clarify any questions the team may have. You attend the team meetings (Scrum Ceremonies). In a short amount of time, with the help of our Scrum Masters, you learn to be very effective and set the team on the path to deliver highly-valuable software.

Review Every Story

At Rangle, we focus on delivering high-quality software. We split the software into User Stories and deliver them in thin slices. Every story is defined with the help of the Product Owner. Once the story is delivered, the PO accepts the story as completed, or sends it back to the team to change any aspects of the story. The handoff is continuous, so as a PO you are always in the know of what the team is working on and struggling with.

Being a PO is a big responsibility, but the rewards of growing a high-performance team and delivering high-quality, high-value software pay for that time many times over. Over time the team learns more about end users, stakeholders, and the product space and works with you to help solve your customer’s problems. As a PO, you accumulate knowledge and expertise of product development that allow you to make better decisions and lead to continuous improvement of your products.

Challenges of Being the PO

You may find yourself in a situation when you become a PO in addition to your existing responsibilities. Having enough time to be available for the team may be a challenge. Optimizing the time you spend on your existing responsibilities should be handled on individual basis. However, optimizing the time you spend with your team can be relatively straight forward.

Focus on being there for the Sprint Ceremonies (Grooming, Planning, Standups, Reviews, and Retrospectives). Work close with the Scrum Master to develop strategies and tactics for supporting the team with the limited time you have. Transfer as much knowledge as possible from yourself to your team so they can move forward when you are not available.

What If You Don’t Consider Yourself an Expert?

While you may not consider yourself an expert on the product space and the end users, it is likely that you have more knowledge than the rest of the team. That is a great asset. Going forward you can make it your job to learn even more about the product space and your end users, partner up with your Product Designer to come up with better solutions for the problems they face, and continuously explore the ways you can make the product better.