Most notably the Product Owner serves as the liaison between the Scrum Team and the Stakeholders. To the Team, the Product Owner is the voice of the Stakeholders, representing their needs, wants, and desires for the Product. The Product Owner has strategic oversight of the Product from the organization’s perspective and is responsible for the team delivering the highest value items for the product. They are involved in Product planning through Visioning, Road-Mapping, and Release Planning. In general, the Product Owner works with Stakeholders and project sponsors to perform strategic planning.
The Product Owner is also responsible for the Product Backlog. They own it, maintain it, and prioritize it (Note: Some say that the Product Backlog is ordered, not prioritized). They ensure that the needs of the Stakeholders are being best presented to the Team for implementation within the Sprints.
Traits of An Effective Product Owner
Loves to communicate, communicate, communicate.
Able to see the big picture.
Adept and nimble at navigating the political waters.
Holds admiration and respect from the key Stakeholders (Don’t worry, this takes time to develop).
Has a passion for the Product and markets and sells it to everyone.
Willing to make decisions at the last responsible moment.
Likes to spend time with the Team, answer their questions, and is empowered to make decisions on which version/type of output option the team should go with.
Not afraid to get into the weeds from time-to-time.
How The Product Owner Participates In The Sprint
At the tactical level, the Product Owner is involved in all phases of the Sprint. During the first half of Sprint Planning (the “What” conversation), the Product Owner presents the highest priority Product Backlog Items to the Team. As owner of the Product Backlog, the Product Owner has set the priorities of the Product Backlog to match the needs the high value of the business prior to this meeting. This allows the Team Members to effectively choose the right items from the Product Backlog to create the Sprint Backlog and accomplish the highest and best value for the Stakeholders.
The Product Owner participates in the Daily Scrum meetings to help clarify requirements and answer other questions as needed. As Team Members complete items from the Sprint Backlog, the Product Owner reviews them to provide realtime feedback and accepts them as done items.
At the conclusion of the Sprint, the Product Owner accompanies the Team Members and ScrumMaster to the Sprint Review meeting. The Product Owner is in charge of inviting key stakeholders to attend the Sprint Review. During the Sprint Review, the Product Owner reiterates the Product Vision and Roadmap. The Product Owner also continues to refine the Product backlog so it accurately reflects the stakeholder feedback and ideas revealed during the review. After the Sprint Review, the Product Owner joins the rest of the Scrum Team for the Sprint Retrospective, where they share their ideas about how the entire Team can work more effectively and efficiently.