Who Is a PO?

If you have never heard of Scrum, nor have any experience with it, you most likely have not encountered this acronym either.


PO stands for Product Owner. A Product Owner is a person who is part of a Scrum Team, and one of their main tasks is to represent the customer's requirements and communicate them to the development team. But this is not the only function or responsibility this role has.


A Product Owner is also responsible for prioritizing requirements. In Scrum, these are called Product Backlog Items (PBIs), and there are different ways to prioritize them. Among the most common is sorting them by their benefits with respect to the product vision. The vision should be clearly communicated with everyone who has a stake in the product’s development, including those who are not direct members of the Scrum Team (other stakeholders). If the vision is unknown, the Scrum Master must help the Product Owner identify it and define it correctly. The vision is also an important element for the developers themselves to make sense of the work they are involved in. I think that none of us would willingly work on anything meaningless and ultimately worthless.


To achieve a clear product direction, vision and speed in decision-making, the Product Owner must be one person. They cannot be a group or committee. There is nothing worse than an arguing group of people with different opinions and priorities. Even if we do have to have a group or committee, they must clearly address their requests to the Product Owner.


The Product Owner should also have very good communication skills, because they are the one who deals with the different personalities and opinions of the stakeholders. The PO is a unique role because of the wide range of knowledge and skills it requires. The PO must be able to negotiate with customers, understand their needs and then explain them clearly to developers.


However, the responsibility to adequately clarify requirements is not solely the responsibility of the Product Owner—developers must also be involved. They are the ones who change the requirements into functional code, so they also need to understand clearly what the customer expects from them.


I once heard that it is all about "Doing the right things right," where the Product Owner "does the right things" and the developers are in charge of "doing things right." Collaboration and communication are therefore key to mutual success, and that makes the Product Owner a unique and important part of the Scrum team.

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