Scrum Product Owner: Agile for Product Owners

This article covers what is a Scrum Product Owner and discussed what role the Product Owner plays within an Agile Project. This article starts with an introduction into the background of Agile and the Agile Values and Agile Principles.

The History of Agile

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The History Of Agile For The Product Owner

Product owners are central to the successful transformation of companies using the Agile values and principles. The product owner role evolved from the traditional business analyst with notable differences. The same analytical skills are required for both roles with a strong product owner being an entrepreneur who views features as assets with a high value in the organization.

Agile project delivery principles evolved because industry leaders recognized that the linear nature of traditional delivery created long windows of time between gathering requirements and delivering working software. Long delivery cycles were ineffective since market changes and product vision updates could not be accounted for without losing time and productivity. The traditional project delivery approaches are not designed to account for immediate changes in scope or features.

Agile principles were developed in 2001 by a group of software thought leaders in an attempt to address the need to deliver rapid software for immediate use by customers. These thought leaders believed that change should be embraced. Agile was developed to deliver features in smaller, working increments to the customer.

Scrum Product Owner: Agile Values and Principles

Agile is based on four foundational values and 12 principles for delivery. The four foundational values are:

 Valuing individuals and interaction over processes and tools,
 Delivering working software versus voluminous documentation,
 Collaborating with customers versus intense contract negotiations and
 Immediately responding to change versus strict adherence to the original plan.

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59 Seconds Agile – Scrum Product Owner and The History of Agile for Product Owners

The Scrum Product Owner Role

The Scrum Product Owner as the voice of the customer is responsible for taking the vision of an organization and delivering well-defined features. The foundational values are reflected in the thoughtfulness of delivery that a product owner provides. Features need to be more than well-written stories. Features should also evolve over the life of a project. As Agile evolves in an organization the role of the product owner also evolves to move from the traditional business analyst with strong analytical skills to a leader who views product ownership as an entrepreneurial responsibility.

Requirements – lists versus features

Traditional Projects and the role of the Business Analyst

 In Traditional projects, the life of a project is viewed in linear terms. A project progresses from initiation to analysis, design, development, testing, and delivery.

The business analyst is expected to possess excellent analytical skills and delivery a Business Requirements Document (BRD). The BRD will be holistic, with little room for change during the development phase of a project. This document is an input to the creation of functional and technical design specifications and should be approved by business subject matter experts.

Requirements are typically produced in a list format and may have dependencies noted for clarification. Traditional delivery approaches assume that most if not all requirements can be defined in full during the analysis phase. This approach adds considerable time to the receipt of working features. Requirements should be traceable so that test cases and development components can be mapped throughout the life of a project.   

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User Stories Applied

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User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn is one of our favourite books on Agile User Stories. The book starts with an overview into user stories, and details what a user story is and the different aspects of them. He then discusses how to go about writing a user story, and provides details of the INVEST criteria that can be used to determine if the story is meeting all of its objectives. Next Mike gives an in depth discussion of who user stories are written for and where to begin when gathering the details for them. The book then discusses acceptance testing user stories, including how to go about specifying these criteria and the responsibilities of the development team and customers during this process.

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The History of Agile?

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