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What Is The Role Of The Scrum Product Owner? This Might Surprise You!

The Scrum Product Owner is a central role within the Scrum Framework. That role unifies product and project management tasks, and it's also firmly integrated with software development and delivery.

The product owner's role is far broader than traditional project management, program manager, or product management roles.

He or she represents the end customers and/or other stakeholders and is responsible for maximizing the value of the product by ensuring that the Scrum Team delivers the right work at the right time. The Scrum Product Owner (More info about Scrum Product Owner) decides the software requirements provided for a specific software version, and when the software will be released. She represents functional and nonfunctional demands from end-users.

That means that the Scrum Product Owner has to work very closely with the Scrum Team and coordinates their activities over the entire lifecycle of the project. No one else is allowed to impose the Scrum Team to work for a different set of priorities.

Essential tasks of a Scrum Product owner are:

  • To manage and clarify project requirements,
  • To guide releases and to ensure return on investment (ROI),
  • To closely work with the Scrum Team and enable it to deliver the correct work on time,
  • To manage stakeholders and their expectations,
  • To manage the Scrum Product Backlog.

The Scrum Product Owner can delegate certain activities (like physically maintaining the Scrum Product Backlog). However, he or she still owns the accountability of his or her tasks.

Managing the Product Backlog

The Scrum Product Owner is the only person allowed to own the contents of the Scrum Product Backlog. That means he or she needs to:

  • Create, maintain and clearly describe user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog,
  • Prioritize user stories to accomplish business goals and fulfil the mission of software product,
  • Ensure that the Scrum Team correctly comprehends and implements the user stories in the Scrum Product Backlog.

Release Management

The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for reaching the project goals. He or she creates and maintains the release plan (See more about Scrum Release Planning) and decides about deliveries, end-user functions, and the order they need to be delivered. Scrum Product Owners often manage the costs and budget of Scrum Teams too. They collaborate with the Scrum Team members to fine-tune, prioritize, and estimate user stories.

Stakeholder Management

External stakeholders should not directly bring their demands to the Scrum Team members. Instead, the Scrum Product Owner should collect and assess required functionalities with the stakeholders (for instance, with internal clients, representatives of external clients or end-users). The Scrum Product Owner combines, filters and initially prioritize these user stories before they’re discussed them with the rest of the Scrum Team.

Collaboration With The Scrum Team

For a successful project, the Scrum Product Owner and the Scrum Team must work very closely. The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum Team members are informed and aligned about the aimed goals of software they're building.

During Sprint Review Meetings, the Scrum Product Owner is responsible for inspecting, accepting, or declining deliverables of the Scrum Team.

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