Agile method: What is the role of the Product Owner ?

Agile Product Owner
Alexandra Togan
Alexandra Togan

Alexandra is the newest member of The Agile Company, bringing fresh perspectives and a passion for collaboration to help the company thrive in its agile endeavors.

What is a Product Owner (PO) ?

In order to be reactive to a market that is evolving more and more rapidly, the IT industry is using more and more agile methods. An agile team is generally small (about 10 people) and is composed of different actors: the product owner (PO), the scrum master (if the scrum method is used), the developers and sometimes testers embedded in the team. Experts external to the team can also intervene in support (UX/UI designer for example). In this article we will try to find out more about the role and definition of the product owner PO…

Product owner: The product owner is the representative of the customers and users. His objective is to maximize the value of the developed product. Therefore, this actor has different roles and responsibilities. He clarifies the elements (items) of the product backlog. He defines the order in which the features will be developed. He makes important decisions about the project. He makes sure that the product backlog is visible and understood by everyone. This way, everyone knows what to work on. Finally, he validates the developments functionally.

Specify the requirements well thanks to the Product Owner

Successfully structuring an IT project will simplify its execution. In this respect, the Product Owner plays a central role. As part of the implementation of an IT solution, he or she is the main contact for the developer and tester

Placed at the helm of the project to be executed, the Product Owner must :

– Describe the product expected by the end user (market analysis).

– Specify its functionalities.

– Follow the evolution of the work step by step.

-Define the acceptance criteria, in collaboration with the tester if necessary.

How can the Product Owner participate in software quality management?


Acceptance criteria:

These are the conditions that a software product must meet in order to be accepted by a user, a customer or another system. They are unique for each user story and define the behavior of features from the end user’s perspective. Well-written acceptance criteria help avoid unexpected results at the end of a development phase and ensure that all stakeholders and users are satisfied with what they get.

The Product Owner is the guarantor of the optimal functioning of the product and collaborates with the development and testing team. Together with the tester, the agile po oversees all the tests needed to verify that the final result meets the users’ needs and the company’s requirements.

Better inform and involve the developer in the design:
The PO or product manager must write a specification that is not subject to interpretation by the developers. It is therefore necessary to involve the developers from the design phase and avoid misunderstandings between the business and IT teams. 
Facilitate interaction between all stakeholders on the project
To develop a software, an application or a video game without bugs, several specialists interact. Through the specifications, the Product Owner ensures that each expert understands the expectations placed on him. He or she identifies the actions to be taken to develop the product on time and to ensure easy coordination between the project’s stakeholders.
Save time
Ensuring that the members of the agile team communicate well upstream in the design phase of the application helps to avoid misunderstandings and therefore to save precious time later on. The Product Owner (PO) has an important role in organizing this “conversation” and must be available to the team to facilitate “agility”.

«The value of a user story is not achieved by what is written on the card, but rather what is learned when that story is told.» Mike Cohn