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Product Ownership—a blessing or a curse?

SilverStripe Programme Director, Diana Hennessy, talks about the challenges of being a Product Owner. And for those that are interested in this role, there is a free handbook available to download.

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Product Owner. You may have inherited this role by accident, or you have been assigned a project to lead. Either way, it’s all on you, buddy! “Make or break” time, boss saying  “it’d better deliver everything we have ever hoped for and more, for the money we’re paying!” time. Great. No Pressure.

Luckily, you are not alone in this fight for great products and successful projects. You hopefully have a great team to help you make the best decisions at the right time, and hopefully it’s a SilverStripe development team :)

Successful projects
A lot of projects begin with a newly fledged Product Owner wondering where to begin. One of our Agile Project Managers typically comes in at this stage and before you know it, you have a backlog created with a high level outcome in mind. They are clever like that. It’s usually painless.

But now you have all requirements in nicely sized user stories (don’t worry, we help you work out how to write these too), but everything seems important. How do we know what to do when, and how do you know you will get what you need by the end?

Simple guiding ideas come to mind, such as:

  • Always consider the user outcome first; business outcome second
  • There will always be too many things to build but not all things are equal or *should* be built
  • The CEO often has an opinion once they see it, so show it early and often
  • Your team build what you ask them to build; they are at your service
  • No one can predict the future, so estimates are always guesstimates, no matter what anyone says
  • Your project is not a success until it is in users’ hands, being used, and your success metrics should be about that

The Agile Mojo Booster
It’s not easy being a Product Owner but there are ways to make your life easier. We have developed the Agile Mojo Booster to clarify the Agile process. This handy guide-booklet-novella outlines some key things we know will help you.

Things like this:

Features and Benefits—how do you know what will be the most important thing for success?

But how do you know what will add the most value? Comparing the features and assessing what would benefit the user will help identify value and therefore how much effort you would be prepared to use to achieve the outcome. If a feature benefit means spending $10,000 dollars, how much value would it need to add? 10 fold return? 100 fold return? It will always be relative to your overall project, as $10,000 may be a little or a lot. The main objective is to truly analyse whether a feature is worth moving forward with. You often get passionate people who can really sell their idea across, although it is based on gut feel or something shiny and new rather than actual return on investment.

If you're a new Product Owner, soon to be or maybe just interested in becoming one, this guide will fill you in on everything you need to know about the role. From definitions to roles and suggestions, the handbook outlines all of the key information you will need when starting your next Agile project.

Download this handbook for FREE now!

About the author
Diana Hennessy

Diana is the Programme Director at SilverStripe, providing Programme Management to support her clients in mapping out their web and IT strategies.

Diana believes that clear communication and adaptability are key to delivering great projects. She acts as a careful interpreter between clients and development teams—a strength she uses often as she speaks both languages fluently. She very much remembers what it is like to be on the 'other side' of a project, and therefore is a strong client advocate using a very collaborative and transparent approach.

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