Picture of a person getting a promotion but looks very reluctant to receive it

You’ve Become a Product Owner – What Do You Do Now?

Reluctant person getting a promotion

Congratulations are in order! You’ve just been handed the title of Product Owner (PO). So, what’s next? Is it now your responsibility to save the project single-handedly, do you need to know everything about everything? Are you now a team lead? What is my day-to-day workload?

The First 48 Hours: Panic and Paper Bags

First things first, take a deep breath. The role of the PO is somewhat misunderstood, with many assuming it’s just about shouting orders and making grandiose demands (spoiler: it’s not) and managing huge network of stakeholders (spoilers: yeah…). Your first 48 hours may involve some mild panic and possibly hyperventilating into a paper bag – totally normal. However, once the panic subsides, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Understanding Your Role

As a Product Owner, it is not your job to manage the project team. You’re not their boss in the traditional sense. Your primary role is to maximize the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team. How? By making sure the product backlog is in good shape and aligned with business or customer needs. This means that time is spend working on things that bring the most value in the shortest of time.

What You Do:

  • Define Vision: You provide the roadmap, clarify the vision to your team, and set clear goals. This is your domain. Own it like you own your sauna schedule on midsummer eve. If the goal changes, you make sure everyone involved is informed.
  • Prioritize Needs: You juggle the stakeholders’ wishes, customer feedback, and technical constraints. It’s like being a DJ at a club where everyone shouts their song requests at you.
  • Communicate Clearly and Early: Keep everyone in the loop. Remember, no one likes a mysterious leader who operates in stealth mode. Share information when you have it, if a stakeholder requests you a “simple change do be done”, make sure that you hear the team on how simple it truly is to implement. Especially in the later parts of the project even small changes can need some major work.

What You Don’t Do:

  • Micromanage: This is the job of no one in a Scrum team. Trust the team and them being professionals. A team of professionals don’t need day-to-day management, they need you to set the goal that everyone will aim for.
  • Disappear: Being available is crucial. Book time for being available throughout the project, participate in daily stand-ups, spend time with your Scrum Master and work with the backlog.
  • Ignore Feedback: It’s easy to fall in love with your vision, but feedback is your best friend. Embrace it, even if it stings. You might get it from the end-users, from the stakeholders or from the business unit.

Trusting Your Team

This might be the hardest part: letting go. The Scrum Master is there to facilitate the process, not to serve as your personal assistant. They are tasked with removing obstacles and ensuring progress is made, steering everyone in the right direction without overstepping. Your role is crucial in supporting them by keeping the backlog refined and the goals aligned with business objectives. A well-maintained backlog ensures that time and effort are spent in the most effective way possible.

Additionally, it’s important to respect the Scrum processes. Whether it’s stand-ups, sprint plannings, or retrospectives, each serves a vital purpose. Participate actively in these events; they’re designed to maintain rhythm and cohesion within the team, but remember, you are just one part of a larger group during these ceremonies.

Embrace the Chaos

Finally, embrace the controlled chaos. Scrum isn’t about having a spotless plan. It is more about adapting and overcoming, moving forward with incremental steps rather than major leaps. As a Product Owner, your adaptability to change is crucial. Learn to pivot without losing your cool.

In Conclusion

Being a Product Owner is a lot like being a ringmaster at a very opinionated circus. It’s challenging, occasionally chaotic, and you often juggle more than just tasks. But with a clear understanding of your role, a trust in your team and Scrum Master, and a robust sense of humour, you’re set to lead your project to success. When working with Bofor, you are guaranteed to have an experienced and certified Scrum Master by your side whom you can trust.