What does a Product Owner do?
The Product Owner brings the business perspective to the software product being created and sustained into a Scrum Team. The Product Owner represents all stakeholders, internal and external, to the Development Team. Although a Product Owner is likely to have various strategic product management tasks outside of the Scrum Team, it is important that the Product Owner actively engages with the Development Team regularly and repeatedly.
The Product Owner assures with the Development Team that a Product Backlog exists. The Product Owner manages Product Backlog based on the product vision as a long-term view of the road ahead. A product vision captures why the product is being built.
Product Backlog shows all of the work currently envisioned for the product. This work may comprise initiatives, functional and non-functional expectations, enhancements, fixes, patches, ideas, updates and other desirements. If anybody wants to know what work is identified and planned for the product it suffices looking at the Product Backlog.
The Product Owner expresses the expectations and ideas captured in the Product Backlog to the Development Team, and orders the items in the Product Backlog to optimize the value being delivered. Lower value items are actively removed from Product Backlog (see the Tea Leaves Effect). Lower value functionality is actively removed from the product.
The Product Owner invites stakeholders to the Sprint Review to come work with the Scrum Team; what got done, what didn’t got done, what are relevant market or competition trends. The goal is to collaboratively identify what is the most valuable work to do next for the Product. This is captured in Product Backlog. Obviously.
The Product Owner manages the product budget to balance value, effort and time for the represented stakeholders. The Product Owner maximizes value. Period.
What does it take to be a Product Owner?
Being a Product Owner requires specific skills and traits. There are too many to mention, but an entrepreneurial spirit is certainly a helpful one. Being a Product Owner requires ownership of a product, implying strong organizational adoption of the role. Being a Product Owner is being a servant-leader in working with self-organizing teams. Being a Product Owner is not easy. It may take some time to get there.