A Product Owner is a link between the Client and the development Team. He has the authority to make final decisions withing a Scrum Team.
The main responsibilities of a Product Owner are the creation and the control of the Product Backlog.
Main responsibilities and duties of a Product Owner when managing a Product Backlog:
- Defining the Backlog elements;
- A proper arrangement of the elements in order to optimize the process of reaching the goals;
- Making sure the Product Backlog is clear and understandable;
- Making sure the project’s demands and goals are clear and understood by the Scrum Team;
- General optimization in order to improve the Development Team’s performance;
- Taking responsibility for the understanding of the Backlog by the Development Team;
It should be noted that a Product Owner can perform all the aforementioned duties himself as well as assign them to the Development Team, but he always remains responsible.
The decisions that the Product Owner makes should not be disputed. All the decision he makes, the Product Owner includes in the Product Backlog. He doesn’t affect the work of the Development Team directly, he may not be present at their meetings (at Scrum Planning Meeting, for instance), but he must be always be near in order to promptly solve any problems, should there appear any.
The life of a Product Owner inside a Scrum Team
It is crucial for the Product Owner to create tasks not from the point of view of development, but from the point of view of the client’s “wish-list”. For instance, “the journal entries selection works slowly, should work faster”. If the Product Owner describes this tasks as “Optimize the Database” - this would be incorrect. Because the root of problem could be not necessarily in database. That’s why the description of each tasks should be as simple as possible. “Improve the journal entries selection speed”, in our case. There is a certain field in the Product Backlog if the Product Owner (or anyone else) has an idea how to solve this task.
The Product Owner shouldn’t limit himself only with creating a list of tasks, because interaction with the Team leads to more productive and effective work.
No matter how hard the Product Owner tried to fill in the Product Backlog properly, there will always be debatable points. The most common one is over-evaluation of Story Points. Very often a Product Owner cannot take into consideration each technical aspect of the task and as a result the actual time needed for its completion is way longer than it has been planned. In such cases, the reevaluation of the points takes place, which results in having Story Points beyond the limits of the Team.
You can read more about this in Sprint Backlog article.
It may seem that the Product Owner is necessary only at the beginning stage, but he also plays an important role during the whole Sprint.
Another function of a Product Owner is the ability to stop a Sprint. It is discussed in the article about Abnormal Termination.