Constant communication - this is enormously important in agile collaboration on a project. Especially when you implement a project as an agency service like we do at mindnow. Agile project management according to the Scrum principle essentially means that the customer, development team, Scrum Master and Product Owner work together on the realization of a (software) project. The Product Owner is the communicative hub between the customer and the Scrum team and assumes responsibility for the product to be developed. Broadly speaking, the tasks of the Product Owner can be divided into four areas:
1 – Consultation with customers
The most important task of the Product Owner is to represent the interests of the stakeholders. Together with them, the PO defines the product vision for the product, collects ideas and and makes decisions about which ideas to implement. Communication and exchange with the customer and the rest of the project team are part of the daily routine in order to mediate between the parties as quickly as possible. The Product Owner is therefore the direct contact person and first advisor on the customer side.
The Development Team and Srcum Master have hardly any direct contact with the customer, because the Product Owner takes care of all that. The only exception, where by definition everyone comes together, is the Sprint Review at the end of the Sprint. In this meeting, the team presents the result of the Sprint and the customer side can give feedback or ask questions. Of course, there is also the opportunity to have a look at the result after the Sprint. The Product Owner's task is then to list the feedback from the customers in detail and to discuss the desired optimizations or changes with them.
2 – Briefing the team
The Product Owner is in contact with the development team at least as closely as with the customer side. As soon as the new requirements have been worked out, the Product Owner communicates them to the team. The Product Owner prioritizes and determines which tasks the team should tackle in the next sprint. How they are best solved, however, is decided by the team itself - here the PO does not interfere, but trusts the team's expertise.
Meetings such as daily stand-ups mainly take place online at mindnow, since we work from different locations. Communicating remotely is something we've gotten pretty good at, and not just since Corona. When circumstances allow, we also like to invite clients and colleagues to our offices in Zurich or Baden, or to meet at the office in Belgrade, where most of our developers demonstrate their skills.
3 – Maintenance of the Product Backlog
Like everything in Scrum, the Product Backlog is flexible. I.e. in the course of a Sprint new requirements can be entered into the Backlog at any time.
The Product Owner's task is to describe these very precisely so that they are understandable and comprehensible for the Scrum team.
Before each Sprint Planning, the Product Owner reviews the user stores in the backlog and prioritizes them together with the customer. The most important ones that deliver the most value to the end user are at the top of the Product Backlog.
4 – Vision development of the final product
To define the next goals and refine the product strategy, a good product vision is needed. This describes the ideal product from the user's point of view and represents a long-term and inspiring mission statement.
The Product Owner must constantly ask himself whether the right product is being developed and how it satisfies the needs of the users and solves their problems. He or she therefore not only represents the interests of the customer, but also those of the people who will ultimately use the product. To do this, the Product Owner must keep an eye on trends and developments in the market. It is not uncommon for the insights gained from observing and analyzing the market to flow into product development later on.
New market developments can also change the needs of users. A new group of customers emerges or an existing one falls away. The Product Owner ensures that the customer and the team are informed about new developments in the target group and, in the case, provides a new direction.
Conclusion: Being a Product Owner means a lot of responsibility.
The entire process in Scrum is designed for simplicity and clarity. Clear rules keep planning as lean as possible in order to be able to concentrate on the essentials - product development. The Product Owner plays the central role in Scrum, bears great responsibility and often has to meet high expectations, from customers as well as from development teams.
The beauty of this role is that it is very versatile. At mindnow, we often work on several projects at the same time, in completely different industries. Finance today, CRM software tomorrow, and exotic cocktails the day after - you learn something new in many different areas. And it's not just thematically that our projects are fundamentally different. In addition to digital applications for large corporations, we also like to develop our own ingenious product ideas and see what comes out of them.
Either way, every project has its Product Owner, who bears responsibility, thinks along with us and proactively approaches those involved. These are probably the most important tasks.