Celebrating Product Owners
Nothing beats an Agile Team, and Agile Teams power the ART. The work they do transforms fuzzy ideas into concrete solutions that run and grow the business. But the team must constantly ensure that they are building the right things and building them right. In complex enterprise environments amid a fast-paced digital economy, this is no trivial task.
That is why, in SAFe, every Agile team includes a Scrum Master and Product Owner (PO) to support its talented group of cross-functional solution makers and builders. We recently updated the Scrum Master article, elaborating on the critical responsibilities this role brings in leading and coaching teams toward meeting delivery goals.
As we all know, the PO is a member of the Agile Team who is responsible for maximizing the value delivered by the team and ensuring that the Team Backlog is aligned with customer and stakeholder needs—a responsibility that requires incredible focus and poise, to be sure.
Now, we have followed up with a significant upgrade to the Product Owner article in celebration of this role’s contributions to maintaining perpetual alignment between the team’s output and the business value it is meant to deliver.
PO responsibilities are now grouped into the five primary categories shown above. These groupings accentuate the POs position as an extended member of the Product Management function, a ‘voice of the customer’ for the team, an ambassador for built-in-quality, an influential communicator, a prolific collaborator, and in an integral member of both the team and ART. And, as always, their active leadership and participation in many SAFe events contributes directly to the continuous delivery of customer-centric solutions.
Thank you to the thousands of POs in the SAFe community who dedicate their professional lives to ensuring their teams, ARTs, and enterprises build the right things and build them right.
You can read the updated article here.
Great response, Marc! Spot on! The PO/PM distinction is quite clear in SAFe, and is exactly as you have described it.
Thank you, Joel! Much appreciated.
Thank you for the update. I like the way the PO’s responsibilities are fleshed out and elaborated on.
A challenge I’m seeing in organisations is how the word/position “Product Owner / PO” is being used. I’m finding that anyone doing anything with products is referred to as a PO. This will often include Product Management and Product Managers. As a result, I’ve seen teams with 4 or 5 POs assigned to them and no dedicated PO.
I find that Product Managers have more of a direct relationship with customers than POs do and are often the voice of the customer to the POs.
I’d like to see the role of a Product Manager pulled out and highlighted in more than the Product Management functon.
Thank you again for the update.
Thanks, Ian. First, in SAFe, we highly recommend separating PO and Product Management (PM) responsibilities since we’re managing delivery complexities at scale. POs are dedicated members of Agile development teams (it’s a full-time job), PMs are not. They partner to ensure customer centricity from product strategy through delivery.
PMs and POs are both proxies for the customer but usually with different scopes. For example, PMs may focus on buyer behavior across an entire market segment, while a PO may focus on the end-user experience of a specific persona within that segment. In any event, POs should directly interact with the customers and/or end-users their products specifically serve and collaborate with PMs to understand the broader market perspective.
Stay tuned for updates to the Product Management article, which will further clarify the similarities and differences between PO and PM responsibilities.
I hope that helps. Thanks again for the great comments.