Releasing The Product For Product Owners

Agile Scrum has three primary roles – a product owner, scrum master and scrum team members (developers, testers, configurators, and engineers for example). The Product Owner is the Voice of the Customer (VOC). This voice represents the interests of the stakeholders, ensuring that what is delivered is done so in priority order. The end goal is that the product fulfills the Definition of Done (DoD). Unlike a traditional waterfall project where all deliverables are met at the end of the project, Agile Scrum delivers value incrementally. To meet the incremental value of an agile scrum project, the product owner is responsible for:

 Defining the feature set that makes up the working deliverables
 Prioritization of the feature set and
 Release Management and Communication planning of the feature set.

Defining the feature set

Feature driven development is a benefit of Agile delivery. Features are small, user-focused and defined increments of value that are then turned into specific tasks for delivery. Feature sets are bundles of similar features that are generally delivered within the same sprint.  Before getting to the definition of a feature set, the product owner is responsible for translating the project vision and scope into a product backlog.

The product backlog contains a list of feature requirements. The requirements are written as epics which can be equated with categories. Through subsequent refinement, epics are broken into manageable sizes with user story syntax. The product owner will be responsible for refining the backlog throughout the life of the project to ensure that the user stories are well defined are correctly prioritized. As user stories are defined it is important to evaluate whether a feature adds value to the end project, is a nice to have or is a dependency that will minimize technical debt. Nice to haves are usually prioritized lower in the backlog because there is not a direct correlation with incremental value to the business owner.

Features will evolve over the life of a project. This is where refining at multiple stages is important for the product owner. There may be a realization that a user story is too large to deliver in one sprint. In this case, that user story should be broken into smaller increments. The value of the feature is maintained by releases that are immediately usable. As a project progresses, Agile’s inspect and adapt model, makes it feasible to re-evaluate features and determine those that may no longer be required. Scope definition is flexible and can be adjusted to meet the needs of the market and learnings from earlier sprint deliveries. The product owner will group updated user stories into feature sets for effective release management.

Prioritization of the Feature Set

Agile projects align around the concept of a Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The MVP are those features broken into user stories that will deliver the minimum value to a client. Minimum value focuses on the must-haves and categories down to want to have this product feature. Want have features are features that may be considered in future projects. Want to haves are not removed from the backlog but, archived for later consideration. Using the MosCoW approach, features can be ranked as:
 Must Haves
 Should have
 Could haves and
 Want to have.
 Will not have

While the product owner is responsible for prioritization of the feature set, this individual does not solely make the decisions. The product owner must communicate with the primary stakeholder to understand if there are market pressures for release of features.

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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)