Product Ownership

Product Ownership
Intent
: Provide a single business liaison who is able to represent customer needs in an accountable manner, provide effective pull on a team backlog, and who is empowered to make business decisions

Proverbs:
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth
  • A single wringable neck
Also Known As:
  • Onsite Customer
  • Business Owner
Motivation: Explaining customer requirements to technical teams, and liaising with them on the delivery of value, is a skilled job. Customers cannot be expected to have these skills and technical teams cannot be expected to make business decisions regarding product value. A single voice is needed who, as an empowered liaison, can fulfill this role and perform duties to both client and team.

Structure: A Product Owner will wholly own an ordered backlog of product requirements. Each backlog item will represent value to the customer and the Product Owner will be in a position to explain each one to the team, and to rewrite it if necessary in order to improve clarity. The team will then size each item and the Product Owner will order the backlog in the customer’s best interests. The Product Owner and the Team will negotiate which items should be brought into the Sprint Backlog for the next iteration in accordance with a suitable Sprint Goal.

Applicability: Product Ownership is key to a collaborative way of working, and as such it is applicable to all agile methods

Consequences: Product Ownership encourages teamwork. It gives customer and technical teams a common goal and provides both with an incrementally emergent schedule in the form of a Product Backlog. This requires the availability of someone with appropriate skills, availability, and authority. Such people can be difficult to resource and Product Ownership by proxy has become common. Failure to resource a suitable Product Owner or proxy implies that product value cannot be represented and that the Business Case should be reconsidered.

Implementation
: Scrum expressly supports and requires a Product Owner role. In XP, Product Ownership is represented by the Onsite Customer role. In DSDM the operational duties of a Product Owner to a Development Team are fulfilled by a Business Ambassador. A DSDM Business Ambassador may proxy for other business roles; these can include a Business Visionary and one or more Business Advisors.

See Also: