Effective Product Owner

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Learn how to lead the planning, development, release and growth of valuable products that users love to use. Effective product owner is a two-day workshop that helps anyone begin or expand their role as leaders who are accountable for optimising the long-term value of digital products.

Learning Objectives

This course is designed to leave delegates more confident in five key areas:

1.     Understanding the role of the agile product owner.

2.     Developing a vision and using it to drive value.

3.     Requirements discovery and analysis.

4.     Making informed decisions using metrics and data.

5.     Effective techniques for managing a product backlog.

Audience, Pre-requisites and Assumed Knowledge

This course is especially useful for people who are, or want to become, a product owner. It’s useful if delegates have some prior experience working either with business teams who need products built; or development teams implementing requirements. Typical attendees include:

  • Traditional product managers and project managers who are planning to become product owners as part of an agile transformation.
  • Established agile product owners who are keen to develop their skills and learn new techniques.
  • Business analysts, developers, testers and business representatives who see becoming a product owner as their next career progression.
  • Leaders of digital products or departments who are keen to establish a rigorous approach to product management.

When delivered as a private class, the course may be pitched at an appropriate level. For example, experienced teams can quickly re-establish the basics and then spend more time considering the detail of their approach.

Approach

We are a friendly team of practitioners and we like to provide a personal level of support, before, during and after the class:

  • Pre-course reading designed to expose questions so that they can be explored in class.
  • Contact details allowing delegates to ask questions to the trainer before and after the class.
  • Access to a comprehensive set of guidance after the course so that delegates apply what has been learnt.
  • Digital course effectiveness surveys with results sent out to delegates and sponsors straight after the class.

Course Content

The agile product owner

We ensure that there is a clear understanding of some basic principles by establishing the parameters and objectives of the agile product owner role:

  • Agile principles and frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban.
  • Criteria that determine whether a product is successful.
  • Accountabilities of the product owner role.
  • Interactions with other roles including business analyst; engineer; user experience and design; senior management.

Vision as a tool to drive value

Delegates begin the case study project that spans the full course with a range of inception activities that culminate in a clear vision for the product to be built:

  • Defining value as a context-specific measure.
  • Start with why – understanding the purpose for the initiative.
  • Creating a business model for the proposed product.
  • Bringing it all together with a clear product vision.

Requirements discovery and analysis

Before requirements can be discovered, we need to understand the outcomes and set some key performance indicators so that we know what we’re working towards. Delegates will establish these by referring to their vision, and will then run through a workshop exercise based on user story mapping to discover which features might be needed to reach the outcomes set.

Making good prioritisation decisions

Having discovered a range of potential features to build, product owners will order their features into a product backlog and make some initial decisions on the scope for the first release. We’ll explore considerations including value; technical uncertainty; requirements uncertainty; size; dependencies; and cost of delay.

Creating a release plan

Delegates will learn that the assumptions made during inception and discovery are only validated by releasing to real users or customers. We’ll explore how to limit the financial risk while ensuring the first release is coherent and high-quality, as well as establishing what we can legitimately say when the business ask:

  • How much will it cost?
  • When will it be done?
  • What features will be present?

Negotiating, influencing and persuading

Having learned that product owners are the ultimate decision-makers for the direction and strategy of their products, we’ll take a practical look at the techniques required to be effective in what is often a political role:

  • Communicating and defending your strategy and the decisions made to enact it.
  • Using vision statements to guard against distractions.
  • Planning an effective negotiation.
  • Working out who your stakeholders are, how involved they should be and how to keep them engaged.
  • Striking the right balance between building consensus, and decisive leadership.

Adding depth to your vision

Pragmatic personas allow delegates to get into the context of potential users and build a profile around some key user types in order to better anticipate their needs. Delegates will create personas for their products and identify any additional requirements that come to light.

User stories are a clear, understandable expression of a high-level requirement that enables product owners and stakeholders to take in large feature sets at a glance, and group items quickly into ordered release plans. Delegates will use the pragmatic personas to create truly understandable user stories that enable effective collaboration.

Communicating requirements to development teams

On day one, delegates created a product backlog of requirements with almost no detail on what should be built. We will now explore some techniques that product owners can use to help development teams understand what is wanted. Example mapping with Behaviour-Driven development is a great way to break down user stories by giving examples of how the product should behave in a range of specific scenarios.

Managing a product backlog

There is a lot more to managing a product backlog then simply putting it in order. We wrap up the course with a fully comprehensive review of practical solutions currently in use within the industry:

  • Creating date-driven or scope-driven forecasts, and how to manage change with stakeholders.
  • Creating a rolling backlog projection for the next 4-8 weeks.
  • Product backlog refinement: deciding what to analyse, who should be present and when it should be done.
  • Establishing requirements buffers.
  • Design sprints will be explained as an option to go even further into validating an idea with users before committing to costly development.
  • Feedback metrics post release and using these to adapt the product backlog.
  • Using historical performance data such as velocity to make release forecasts and manage budgets.
  • Tools such as physical boards and their electronic equivalents including Jira; Team Foundation Server; VersionOne; Trello.

Effective Product Owner Outcomes

Delegates will leave with a fully comprehensive approach to leading the long-term development of valuable products.

 

Training extract

Part 1 of 5 – The role of the product owner, the intentions behind the role, what the Scrum Guide says about the product owner and how this translates into the real world. The video also covers value – the concept of valuable work and the difference between value-based delivery and volume-based development. Exploring how the product owner influences this through their engagement with stakeholders. For the complete series – visit our YouTube channel.

Join Edward Scotcher (COO) in this recorded customer training. With thanks to ASE Plc.

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