The Agile Principles For Product Owners

Agile software development – or Agile – is a collection of software development methodologies that emphasizes adaptive planning, continuous improvement, evolutionary progress and encourages quick, flexible response to change.
 
In theory, if you are a product owner, your responsibilities within the agile framework are simple: “maximize the value of the product and the work of the Development Team”. In reality, product owners do more than just that. They bridge the gap between what a customer wants, stakeholder’s interests and the development team’s work on the project. A product owner needs to understand a customer’s needs in the context of the market it is in, as well as the needs of the development team and stakeholders. Applying the 12 principles of Agile to project management brings a team back to basics and helps product owners fulfill their role.

Agile History

During a meeting of 17 software developers in Utah, the Agile Manifesto was born out of a need to change the way software development took place. The manifesto developed is comprised of 12 principles and each of these principles makes up the foundation of the agile movement we use today. Its emphasis on lean manufacturing, communication, collaboration, flexibility, and customer focus has lead other industries to utilize its principles to manage projects and increase production.

Principles

1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.

Customers are happier when they don’t have to wait long periods of time for a working product. They have problems that need solutions, that is why they are having you do something for them. By understanding what the customer’s needs are, a Product Owner can keep customers happy by shortening the time between gathering requirements and feedback. As a Product Owner, this allows for more opportunities to steer the product in a direction that is agreeable to the customer.

59 Seconds Agile - The Agile Principles

59 Seconds Agile – The Agile Principles

2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.

Needs often change during the course product development. When inevitable changes come about, implement them as soon as possible by shortening the time between when a change is conceived and when it is implemented. As a product owner, ensuring that changes are implemented right away – and not when the next system redesign comes about or next system is built – is important to keep the needs of all those involved in the forefront.

3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

Previous project development methods were usually front-loaded and often required 100% of the requirements and documentation to be completed before starting a project. This was time-consuming and didn’t allow for a lot of change.

On the other hand, Agile focuses on shortening the distance between planning and delivery. All the requirements aren’t required to begin work. Instead, it is a working process that focuses on creating the product, not just planning for it.  

4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.

Collaboration between business stakeholders and the development team should be done throughout the whole project. Ensuring this collaboration and communication takes place is crucial. Communication tools can be used to ensure this collaboration takes place and helps the two sides understand each other better. This leads to more productive, effective work.

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