What is the role of the Scrum Product Owner?

June 9, 2014

The product owner is an important part of a Scrum project. He/She represents the interests of the stakeholder community to the Scrum Team.

The product owner is responsible for ensuring clear communication of product or service functionality requirements to the Scrum Team, defining Acceptance Criteria, and ensuring those criteria are met. In other words, the Product Owner is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum Team delivers value. The Product Owner must always maintain a dual view. He/she must understand and support the needs and interests of all stakeholders, while also understanding the needs and workings of the Scrum Team. Because the Product Owner must understand the needs and priorities of the stakeholders, including customers and users, this role is commonly referred to as the Voice of the Customer.

The table given below, summarizes the Product Owner’s responsibilities in the various Scrum processes.


Product Owner Responsibilities

Create Project Vision

  • Defines the Project Vision
  • Helps create the Project Charter and Project Budget

Identify Scrum Master and Stakeholder(s)

  • Helps finalize Scrum Master for the project
  • Identifies Stakeholder(s)

 Form Scrum Team

  • Helps determine Scrum Team members
  • Helps develop a Collaboration Plan
  • Helps develop the Team Building Plan with Scrum Master(s)

Develop Epic(s)

  • Creates Epic(s) and Personas

 Create Prioritized Product Backlog

  • Prioritizes Prioritized Product Backlog Items
  • Defines Done Criteria

Conduct Release Planning

  • Creates Release Planning Schedule
  • Helps determine Length of Sprint

 Create User Stories

  • Helps create User Stories
  • Defines Acceptance Criteria for every User Story

Approve, Estimate and Commit User Stories

  • Approves User Stories
  • Facilitates Scrum Team and commit User Stories

Create Tasks

  • Explains User Stories to the Scrum Team while creating the Task List

Estimate Tasks

  • Provides guidance and clarification to the Scrum Team in estimating effort for tasks

 Create Sprint Backlog

  • Helps  Scrum Team in creating Spring Backlog

Create Deliverables

  • Clarifies business requirements to the Scrum Team

Groom Prioritized Product Backlog

  • Grooms the Prioritized Product Backlog

Demonstrate and Validate Sprints

  • Accepts/Rejects Deliverables
  • Provides necessary feedback to Scrum Master and Scrum Teams
  • Updates Release Plan and Prioritized Product Backlog

Ship Deliverables

  • Helps deploy Product Releases and coordinates this with the customer

Retrospect Project

  • Participates in Retrospective Sprint Meetings


 Responsibilities of the Product Owner in Scrum Processes

The other responsibilities of a Product Owner are:

  • Determining the project’s initial overall requirements and kicking off project activities; this may involve interaction with the Program Product Owner and the Portfolio Product Owner to ensure that the project aligns with direction provided by senior management
  • Representing user(s) of the product or service with a thorough understanding of the user community
  • Securing the initial and ongoing financial resources for the project
  • Focusing on value creation and overall Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Assessing the viability and ensuring the delivery of the product or service

The Product Owner as the Voice of the Customer (VOC)

As the representative of the stakeholder, the Product Owner is said to be the Voice of the Customer as he ensures that the explicit and implicit needs of the customer are translated into User Stories in the Prioritized Product Backlog and later on used to create project Deliverables for the customer.

Chief Product Owner

In the case of large projects with numerous Scrum Teams, having a Chief Product Owner may be a necessity. This role is responsible for coordinating the work of multiple Product Owners. The Chief Product Owner prepares and maintains the overall Prioritized Product Backlog for the large project, using it to coordinate work through the Product Owners of the Scrum Teams. The Product Owners, in turn, manage their respective parts of the Prioritized Product Backlog.

The Chief Product Owner also interfaces with the Program Product Owner to ensure alignment of the large project with the program goals and objectives.

In short, it is the product owner, who ensures that the team delivers value.


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