Who should be your product owner?

Who should be your product owner ? Let’s assume that your organisation didn’t build Scrum teams yet. Should be the ideal product owner the legacy Business Product Manager or Technical Product Manager ?

I think I’ve hit to the million dollar question, right? In many organisations which are going through an agile transformation and building brand-new Scrum teams, this might be a question causing long discussions. At least, this is my feeling based on my experience in my company, Turkcell. Don’t get me wrong, I really think that this is a healthy discussion and the right decision changes according to the organization’s culture, industry the company is competing in, the size of the company, the management structure and even to the potential PO candidates, among many others.

In a nutshell, an ideal PO should have 3 fundamental characteristics:

  1. Availability : PO should be available at all times if the development team requires prioritization on which items to work on, guidance or clarification if the requirements are not clear enough etc. PO should organize and drive Sprint Review and Planning events. PO should be available to receive new requirements or queries from various stakeholders.  In short PO should be available almost 100%.
  2. Business-savvy: PO should have a broad understanding of the market, his/her product, competition, latest trends, new use cases and customer behavior as well as new technologies. PO should constantly look for Product/Market fit. PO should also have the right level of technical understanding of the product she/he owns and should be competent enough to put a vision where the product should go to.
  3. Communication skills: PO should be an excellent communicator. First of all, PO should gain respect of the development team and accomplish managing  the expectation of the stakeholders. Additionally, PO should a conflict solver, negotiator and motivator. As being the voice of the development team to the outer world, PO should represent the Scrum team in a manner that the team’s credibility and strength is well understood by the management team and key stakeholders.

Considering these highly critical capabilities, clearly there is no one single receipt whether the right profile is the legacy Technical Product Manager or the Business Product Manager. Even at some, there might not be such a difference. Perhaps there are only one product manager role particularly in small-medium sized companies.

All in all, the ideal PO should have the before mentioned-skill set so that the Scrum team’s value has been maximized. At the end, this is why PO’s exist, right 🙂 

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