The Unbreakable Product Owner: a SuperHero in software development

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Superman is the most powerful Marvel superhero without any doubt. Ability to fly, X-rays, strength, invincibility … there were some other characteristics that defined him when it comes to saving other people’s’ lives. In the software development industry, there is a person that we could very easily compare with Superman – Agile Product Owner or simply Unbreakable Product Owner (P.O).

Unbreakable Product Owner

P.O is in contact with all those stakeholders involved in the development of a digital product; investors, development team, Marketing,  final client, etc. But, having it clear with whom a good P.O has to have contact is not enough, it is important to understand the value of having one in a team and value for the final client. What do I mean by that is maximizing the potential of the features that best meet the needs of a final client.

To build and develop a digital product that meets 100% the needs of a client, we must first have a clear idea of it. What are those features or characteristics that are going to be part of the final product? Well, that’s what P.O has to identify with the final client and it’s not that easy as it may sound. PO is responsible for being the “eyes” of the client when dealing with the development team and vice versa, transmitting what is possible to develop or what should be rethought, explaining everything in an understandable way.

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Both the final customer who will use the digital product and the P.O have to be able to answer a simple question: What is the difference between our product and the one of our competition? Why should I choose our product instead of the one of the competition. To answer this question the Product Owner must always think of a customer as a priority number 1. It is useless to answer the question with your knowledge, you have to be able to put yourself in the shoes of your final client and understand what this digital product brings to the market or to a particular client. Also, it is important to understand that the best software development is the one that is scalable, powerful and that works without any pause.

Many points of view – Same rules of the game

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There are different definitions for each of the departments that participate in the development of a digital product.

A good P.O must be in charge of aligning all points of view given certain situations, get everyone together and make a group of people work as a team. The concept and definition of value, quality, a definition of done, etc are different for each of the departments that make up an organization.

Avoiding being a stumbling block or a bottleneck so that information flows between teams. And the final product is not affected.

However, often a PO must take a decision that may change the project or even mark the product with respect to succeeding or failing probabilities. The vast majority of P.Os have already a previous experience that allows them not to foresee the future or know what is the best way to take, but the ability to make a better estimation of the possibilities that can occur and act against them.

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A good P.O must always have a correct mindset that allows him to act in the best way in those situations. Defining clear objectives and removing uncertainties to achieve the objectives on time, defining a realistic scope and deadlines.

There are different tools to facilitate that decision making. Canvas, Trello … are some of them.

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Stakeholders. Mindset for every occasion

Stakeholders usually have little technical knowledge. Am Unbreakable Product Owner must be able to communicate with clarity and transparency each of the processes. P.O should know how to deal with delays, bugs, estimations, etc. P.O is responsible for correcting the situation and communicating it with stakeholders.

Development team

Set a direction. A team needs a clear scope and defined objectives, without uncertainties. A good PO has to define sprints that have a purpose, where each user story is detailed, has acceptance criteria and, if possible, that the delivery has a positive impact on the final product – making it a better product. This helps the team of developers see that everything they are doing makes sense and impact.

Marketing and sales

Marketing and sales has information that is key to a PO, especially when working for small startups. They have a lot of information that POs can not be aware of (fashion, competition, trends, concerns of target audience, social networking phenomena or products that are triumphing that could be complementary to the product we are developing)
A P.O has to collaborate with Marketing, since it has to react to the market every week and gather more key information for the development of a digital product.

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Final customer

This is possibly the most fundamental part of the development process. We talk about functionality, design, detail … always keeping the final client in mind, sharing the purpose of the project for better management and results.

Roman Pichler defines the characteristics of the Product Owner as: visionary, executor, leader, communicator, involved and qualified.

P.O bases the largest set of daily activities on a set of common goals. At the end of the day, P.O is a glue between teams and always maintains a flow of continuous communication between the team and the stakeholders.

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One Comment

  1. Joe Moutard

    I just have to point out that Superman is a character in the DC universe and not Marvel.

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