What makes a good product owner?

by | Sep 1, 2022

At JustSolve, we are serious about delivering quality products continuously and timeously for our clients. To do that, one needs a robust process in place and what is more robust than the Scrum Framework? So, it should be no surprise that we use it as our primary delivery framework. One of the roles that exist in the Scrum Framework is the Product Owner, who is an integral part of any team, and here, coming from different sources and my own experience, is why?

A good product owner:

  • Is embedded in the scrum team. The product owner does not stand on the outside of a team but is part of the team.
  • Is committed to the team.
  • Manage and prioritise the product backlog.
  • Help team members understand what to build and why.
  • Accepting the delivered product or increment.
  • Maximising the ROI.
  • Can differentiate between the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and the complete solution.
  • Focuses on effectiveness, building the right product for their customers.
  • Must be willing to be in the trenches with the team.
  • Is a leader not a manager.
  • Must be the release master, deciding on when what is released.
  • Must be the what voice and not the how voice.
  • Must have authority to make decisions regarding the product.
  • There can only be one.
  • Must be available and not be missing in action.
  • Informing stakeholders on progress and managing expectations.
  • Set and share the vision of the project.

In an article written by Christiaan Verwijs based on a study conducted by Julian Bass and his colleagues published on Scrum.org, he assigns eight elements that makes for a good Product Owner.

He writes that a product owner should be a

  • Priority provider: ordering the product backlog so the highest value items are delivered first.
  • Refiner: refining and breaking down the product backlog to clarify the work.
  • Release master: planning the release of new versions.
  • Communicator: communicating with the team and business alike.
  • Traveller: building an understanding with stakeholders.
  • Intermediary: creating a buffer between business and the team distributing the domain knowledge.
  • Gatekeeper: signing off on work completed.
  • Customer Relationship Manager, providing training, technical support and supporting stakeholders in their use of the product.

Further, he states that good Product Owners are highly collaborative and work with their teams to clarify their product’s vision, purpose, and strategy.

I think herein lies the secret of becoming a great Product owner,  of allowing the team to be autonomous, for the team to be part of the vision and to take ownership of the product, in other words, to develop product ownership within the whole team.

Richard avatar

About the author.

Jacques is a Scrum Master for JustSolve, specialising in mentoring teams to become self-organising, helping teams to become more and achieve more, coaching teams to evolve into world-class teams, nurturing teams to care for one another and shoulder the burden together. His life mission is to mentor teams and individuals.

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