Positioning Product Owner Role In Organizations


Scrum processes on three main role that are Scrum Master, Product Owner and Development Team, which constitute “Scrum Team”. In this article I will be specifically focusing on the Product Owner role in the companies which transformed their organizational structure into Agile from traditional Project Management methods and address the conflicts which people are facing after repositioning their Project Manager Role. Organizations which are not able to fully integrate all its units to the Scrum fail to execute the Scrum Method due to lack of information, education and invented definitions such as “Project Owner”. Thereof, the consequences and execution are more likely against to the Scrum logic.

People conducting Project Manager Role are more likely perceiving repositioning of their role into Scrum Master as depromation due to not assigning any job to the team members; as a result this might cause loss of motivation.  Therefore, organizations position Product Owner Role more conjugate to Project Manager Role due to its managerial responsibilities.  When the assigned person does not have enough information about the responsibilities of the Product Owner, he/she is assuming the role with Project Management philosophy. As a result, and most advantage of Agile methodology is not utilized in the best way.

All of these are based on not handling the Agile transformation properly. Because Scrum methodology is completely against to the job assignment. Agile is based on a horizontal management and open communication platform, where The Team consist of cross-functional members.

One of the primary responsibilities of the Product Owner is adding new items to the Product Backlog just like all other Scrum Team members. However, the responsibilities of Product Owner which separates him/her from other Scrum team are; Product Owner is the only person that manages the Product Backlog and has responsibilities of prioritising the Product Backlog Items. Functional or matrix structured organizations generally prefer to assign this responsibilities to a group of people instead of definite position. Although it is a handicap for top management to accept the definition of the Product Owner Role, it has very essential importance in the method.

To sum up, it is undeniable that, Agile transformation starts from the executive level of the organization and spread to the entire organization. If horizontal organizational structure is not supported by top management level, process will result in failure in a short time.

If we examine the Agile Manifesto that is written by 17 open-minded practitioners, definitions of Scrum.org and the reason for the existence of PMI; we can realise that the most basic concepts of the product is adding “value” to the product. If we evaluate this and compare with the fundamental role of the Product Owner, which is maximizing the value of the product and the work of the Development Team, we can realize that the importance of the Product Owner role in Scrum.

Product Owner role and the certification of it (PSPO) is not only a career path for the Scrum Master to coach the Scrum Team. As I quoted, the managerial responsibilities of the role in Scrum lifecycle makes this position highly valuable. Of course, Scrum Team is a self-organized and self-governing community. But the gathering of all stakeholders demand, ordering the items in the Product Backlog to best achievable goals and missions, optimizing the value of the work the Development Team performs and deciding the criteria of done; as well as stated capabilities, effective communication, detail & solution-orientation are the technical and soft skills are expected from the Product Owner. That is why, Product Owner role is suitable for whom decide to further his/her career path with managerial positions and want to have experience in stakeholder management, finance&scope balancing. In this context, I will handle the PSPO Certification process with answering the reason of why I get this certificate, how I have studied, what are difficulties that I encountered questions.

Most Sincerely,

Author : Ş. Ali Saraçoğlu

Ali Saraçoğlu 

Bio : http://all4agile.com/en/bloggers/ 

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