After the Scrum Master role, we look at the Product Owner.
First of all, let’s clarify what is exactly the role of a Product Owner (PO) and how is different / similar to the one of a Product Manager (PdM).
Generally in Agile the PO is intended as the customer proxy for the team: express the work to be done to achieve a goal, order and organise it into a Product Backlog and ensure that is visible and understood by everyone in the team.
This is the definition reported by the Scrum guide:
The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog.
The Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from work of the Development Team. How this is done may vary widely across organizations, Scrum Teams, and individuals.
Note the emphasis in the last sentence about how this can greatly vary.
Not only every team, every individual, every product, every organisation are different but this definition is based on a single team, where the PO is responsible for the scope (backlog) of that team work; when you scale up and you add more teams, the PO will soon become overloaded and you will need to add more POs, even adding a “hierarchy” of roles (well, more a collaborative network).
See for example the Less framework where you have a Product Owner who ensures a cohesive vision and several Area-POs to manage each individual area in the product.
This complexity exists also in organisations using the classic PM roles: you can have one or more Product Managers (product), one or more Marketing PdMs (market/business) , one or more Business Analysts (BA, functional details) and they are fluid: the three can be one, two or three roles, dependent on the size or complexity of the challenge.
Keeping that in mind, let’s see what are the skills and responsibilities of a Product Owner (in broad terms) compared to a Product Manager. Continue reading “Product Owner conversion from other roles”