The History Of Agile For The Product Owner

Product owners are central to the successful transformation of companies using Agile methodologies. The product owner role evolved from the traditional waterfall 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 waterfall 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 waterfall project delivery methods 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.

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.

The Product Owner Role

The 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

Waterfall and the role of the Business Analyst

 In Traditional waterfall 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. Waterfall delivery methods 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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Our Book Recommendations

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

Master of Agile – Scrum Product Owner With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)

Introductory Offer: Free Course

What is this course?

This ‘Master of Agile – Scrum Product Owner With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)’ provides an in-depth understanding of the Scrum Product Owner roles and responsibilities

You will explore the Agile Scrum project life-cycle, including how an Agile User Story is created, to how we know when it is ‘done’

This course is aimed at those with or without prior knowledge and experience of the Agile values and principles

During this course you will learn the tools needed to succeed as a Scrum Product Owner

What will you learn?

You will gain an in-depth understanding of the Scrum Product Owner roles and responsibilities, and you will be able to

  • Fully understand the role of the Scrum Product Owner
  • Understand the roles involved in an Agile project
  • Create an effective Product Backlog
  • Effectively participate in Scrum Meetings such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review and Retrospective
  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team

What topics are covered within this course?

You will cover the following topics during this course:

  1. An Introduction to Agile Project Management (Product Owner)
  2. The 12 Agile Principles (Product Owner)
  3. The Declaration of Interdependence (Product Owner)
  4. Introduction to Scrum (Product Owner)
  5. Scrum Project Roles (Product Owner)
  6. The Agile Project Life-cycle (Product Owner)
  7. Acceptance Criteria and the Prioritised Product Backlog (Product Owner)
  8. Epics and Personas (Product Owner)
  9. Sprint Planning (Product Owner)
  10. User Stories (Product Owner)
  11. The Daily Scrum (Product Owner)
  12. The Product Backlog (Product Owner)
  13. Scrum Charts (Product Owner)
  14. Review and Retrospective (Product Owner)
  15. Validating a Sprint (Product Owner)
  16. Releasing the Product (Product Owner)
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