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Build a Better Product Owner

Strengthen the product owner role in your organization by focusing on core capabilities and proper alignment.

  • Product owners must bridge the gap between the business and delivery to ensure products continuously deliver value.
  • Product owners are assigned to support projects or product delivery without proper support, guidance, or alignment.
  • In many organizations, the product owner is not a well-defined role, and individuals placed in these roles lack key skills and support needed.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • There is no “one size fits all” model for assigning and organizing product owners. Product owners must be aligned to ensure product capabilities and enhancements are aligned to enterprise goals and strategies at each level.
  • Product ownership and service ownership share the same foundation. The capabilities and best practices are identical for both roles. Use the term that makes the most sense for your culture.
  • Product owners are operating under an incomplete understanding of capabilities needed to succeed. Most product/service owners lack a complete picture of the needed capabilities, skills, and activities to successfully perform their role.
  • Product ownership should be scaled to match operations. Tier product/service owners to match your product/service hierarchy, not organizational hierarchies.

Impact and Result

  • Understand the types of product owners and how to scale product ownership to align to your operational structure and product needs.
  • Leverage the product owner capability map to better define the role and provide a development path for product owners.
  • Define the impact of cultural factors to the success of product owners and develop strategies to improve your transformation to product ownership and dedicated product owners.

Build a Better Product Owner Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out why you should improve product owner capabilities and alignment, review Info-Tech’s methodology, and understand the three ways we can support you in completing this project.

1. Product owner foundations

Understand capabilities, gaps, perspectives, stakeholder management, and how to customize roadmaps to improve the value delivered by your product owners.

2. Scale product ownership

Define how product owners fit together into families. Scaling product owners and product managers ensures that product capabilities and priorities are aligned to enterprise strategy and goals.


Member Testimonials

After each Info-Tech experience, we ask our members to quantify the real-time savings, monetary impact, and project improvements our research helped them achieve. See our top member experiences for this blueprint and what our clients have to say.

9.8/10


Overall Impact

$11,985


Average $ Saved

8


Average Days Saved

Client

Experience

Impact

$ Saved

Days Saved

Sonepar USA

Guided Implementation

9/10

$11,159

5

TruStone Financial

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

N/A

Academic Partnerships

Guided Implementation

10/10

$12,399

2

California Dental Association

Guided Implementation

10/10

$12,399

18

State Department Federal Credit Union

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

5

Mercury Insurance Service

Workshop

10/10

$123K

110

Veterans United Home Loans

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

N/A

County of Tulare

Guided Implementation

9/10

$61,500

47

The Suddath Companies

Guided Implementation

10/10

$31,833

20

Children's Hospitals and Clinics

Guided Implementation

8/10

N/A

N/A

Westmoreland Mining LLC

Guided Implementation

8/10

N/A

N/A

Veterans United Home Loans

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

20

ConcertoHealth Inc

Guided Implementation

10/10

N/A

N/A

Ohio Lottery Commission

Guided Implementation

8/10

N/A

N/A

Owens Corning

Workshop

8/10

$30,999

20


Workshop: Build a Better Product Owner

Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Establish Product Owners

The Purpose

  • This step assigns product owners to your product model and defines the primary, defines supporting product owner perspectives, and aligns milestone ownership.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Product owner mapping
  • Product owner perspective matrix
  • Milestone responsibility matrix

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Map owners to your products

  • Product owner mapping
1.2

Map product owner perspectives

  • Product owner perspective matrix
1.3

Assign milestones to team roles

  • Milestone responsibility matrix

Module 2: Define Product Owner Capabilities

The Purpose

Product owners operate from a common capability model. This step will help product owners understand the four facets of product ownership and identify the key capabilities needed for their product.

Key Benefits Achieved

Product owner capability mapping

Activities

Outputs

2.1

Define product ownership capabilities

  • Product owner capability mapping

Module 3: Manage Stakeholder Influence

The Purpose

  • Product owner capability mapping

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Relationships among stakeholders and influencers
  • Categorization of stakeholders and influencers
  • Stakeholder and influencer prioritization
  • Better understanding of decision-making approaches and delegation

Activities

Outputs

3.1

Visualize interrelationships to identify key influencers

  • Relationships among stakeholders and influencers
3.2

Group your product owners into categories

  • Categorization of stakeholders and influencers
3.3

Prioritize your stakeholders

  • Stakeholder and influencer prioritization
3.4

Delegation poker: reach better decisions

  • Better understanding of decision-making approaches and delegation

Module 4: Define Your Product Owner Scaling Principles and Model

The Purpose

  • Relationships among stakeholders and influencers
  • Categorization of stakeholders and influencers
  • Stakeholder and influencer prioritization
  • Better understanding of decision-making approaches and delegation

Key Benefits Achieved

  • List of product owner scaling principles
  • Product owner hierarchy model with product owners defined

Activities

Outputs

4.1

Define your product owner scaling principles

  • List of product owner scaling principles
4.2

Customize your model for scaling product owners

  • Product owner hierarchy model with product owners defined

Module 5: Define Product Owners for Shared Service Products

The Purpose

  • This step will help shared service product owners define a network map and strategy for managing demand from product owners who consume their product.

Key Benefits Achieved

  • Product owner mapping for shared products and services
  • Product owner categorization
  • Product owner prioritization strategy

Activities

Outputs

5.1

Map dependent product owner relationships

  • Product owner mapping for shared products and services
5.2

Group your product owners into categories

  • Product owner categorization
5.3

Prioritize your product owners

  • Product owner prioritization strategy

Module 6: Develop Your Product Owner Vision

The Purpose

This step will help product owners align their roadmap and backlog strategy to match the level of their product or product family.

Key Benefits Achieved

Product roadmap strategy

Activities

Outputs

6.1

Define roadmap and backlog approach

  • Product roadmap strategy

Build a Better Product Owner

Strengthen the product owner role in your organization by focusing on core capabilities and proper alignment.

Analyst Perspective

Empower product owners throughout your organization.

Whether you manage a product or service, the fundamentals of good product ownership are the same. Organizations need to focus on three key elements of product ownership in order to be successful.

  • Define the product owner roles based on the product or service they manage to align to the needs of the end consumers.
  • Organize or tier product owners within the organization to match your customer-facing products and services, not your organizational hierarchy.
  • Develop your product owners to improve the quality of roadmaps, alignment to enterprise goals, and profit and loss (P&L) for each product or service.

By focusing the attention of the teammates serving in product owner or service owner roles, your organization will deliver value sooner and respond to change more effectively.

Hans Eckman

Principal Research Director – Application Delivery and Management

Info-Tech Research Group

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

  • Product owners must bridge the gap between the business and delivery to ensure products continuously deliver value.
  • Product owners are assigned to support projects or product delivery without proper support, guidance, or alignment.
  • In many organizations, the product owner role is not well-defined, and individuals placed in these roles lack key skills needed.

Common Obstacles

  • Organizations have poor alignment or missing product owners between lines of business, IT, and operations.
  • Product owners are aligned to projects and demand management rather than long-term, strategic product ownership.
  • Product owners are not properly scaled within organizations.
  • Individuals in product owner roles have an incomplete understanding of needed capabilities and lack a development path.

Info-Tech's Approach

  • Understand the types of product owners and how to scale product ownership to align to your operational structure and product needs.
  • Leverage the product owner capability map to better define the role and provide a development path for product owners.
  • Define the strategy to facilitate your transformation to product/service ownership and dedicated product/service owners.

Info-Tech Insight

Product ownership is not one-size-fits-all or static. It must be tuned and structured to meet the delivery needs of your organization and the customers it serves.

Insight summary

Insight 1

Product ownership and service ownership share the same foundation.

The capabilities and best practices are identical for both roles. Use the term that makes the most sense for your culture.

Insight 2

Product owners are operating under an incomplete understanding of capabilities needed to succeed.

Most product/service owners lack a complete picture of the needed capabilities, skills, and activities to successfully perform their role.

Insight 3

Product ownership should be scaled to match operations.

Tier product/service owners to match your product/service hierarchy, not organizational hierarchies.

Info-Tech’s Approach

Product owners make the final decision.

Assign product owners to products

Scale product owners into related families

Align shared service product owners to consuming product owners

Capability foundation

Product Owner Capabilities:

  • Vision
  • Leadership
  • Value realization
  • Product lifecycle management

The Info-Tech difference:

  1. Assign product owners where product decisions are needed, not to match org charts or delivery teams. The product owner is the final word on product decisions.
  2. Organize product owners into related teams to ensure product capabilities delivered are aligned to enterprise strategy and goals.
  3. Shared products and services must support the needs of many product owners with conflicting priorities. Shared service product owners must map and prioritize demand to align to enterprise priorities and goals.
  4. All product owners share the same capability model.

Product owners and service owners share the same foundation, capabilities, and best practices

PRODUCT = SERVICE

For the purposes of this blueprint, product/service and product owner/service owner are used interchangeably. Product owner is used for consistency but would apply to service owners as well. Your customer is the end user who consumes or uses your product or service.

“Product” and “service” are terms that each organization needs to define to fit their culture and customers (internal and external). The most important aspect is consistent use and understanding of:

  • External products
  • Internal products
  • External services
  • Internal services
  • Products as a service
  • Productizing services

Implement the Info-Tech product owner capability model

Unfortunately, most product owners operate with an incomplete knowledge of the skills and capabilities needed to perform the role. Common gaps include focusing only on product backlogs, acting as a proxy for product decisions, and ignoring the need for key performance indicators (KPIs) and analytics in both planning and value realization.

Product Owner Capabilities:

  • Vision
  • Leadership
  • Value realization
  • Product lifecycle management

Vision

  • Market Analysis
  • Business Alignment
  • Product Roadmap

Leadership

  • Soft Skills
  • Collaboration
  • Decision Making

Product Lifecycle Management

  • Plan
  • Build
  • Run

Value Realization

  • KPIs
  • Financial Management
  • Business Model

Avoid common capability gaps

Vision

  • Assuming market or user needs
  • Focusing on short-term details and demand
  • Failing to plan for competition or alternatives
  • Failing to align with enterprise goals
  • Failing to ensure clarity
  • Missing product capabilities

Leadership

  • Delegating ownership of roadmap decisions
  • Failing to draw input from all participants and stakeholders
  • Failing to consider input
  • Ignoring technical debt
  • Focusing only on the backlog

Product Lifecycle Management

  • Ignoring capacity
  • Assuming “happy path” delivery
  • Failing to manage key milestones
  • Ignoring governance and compliance
  • Ignoring operations
  • Failing to plan organizational change management

Value Realization

  • Failing to base decisions on facts
  • Failing to integrate KPIs into scope
  • Ignoring financial impacts and constraints
  • Failing to build business models
  • Failing to use KPIs to reprioritize future items
  • Failing to trace change requests to enterprise goals

Recognize the different product owner perspectives

Business

  • Customer facing, revenue generating

Operations

  • Keep the lights on processes

Technical

  • IT systems and tools

Info-Tech Best Practice

Product owners must translate needs and constraints from their perspective into the language of their audience. Kathy Borneman, Digital Product Owner at SunTrust Bank, noted the challenges of finding a common language between lines of business and IT (e.g. what is a unit?).

Info-Tech Insight

Recognize that product owners represent one of three primary perspectives. Although all share the same capabilities, how they approach their responsibilities is influenced by their perspective.

“A Product Owner in its most beneficial form acts like an Entrepreneur, like a 'mini-CEO'. The Product Owner is someone who really 'owns' the product.” – Robbin Schuurman, “Tips for Starting Product Owners”

Product owners shift focus to product maturity

Product owners are needed to develop long-term product value, strategy, and delivery. Projects can still be used as the source of funding and change management; however, the product owner must manage product releases and operational support.

The shift from project to product delivery needs to address changes to team member activities. Hoi Kun Lo, Product Owner at Nielsen, reported her company’s shift to product owners and Agile initially suffered due to a lack of clear roles and responsibilities in the old organization.

The image shows two boxes, the top one labelled Product Lifecycle, and the lower labelled Project Lifecycle. The Product lifecycle image shows an arrow arching upwards and to the right. It is labelled Continuous delivery of value. The Project lifecycle image shows a wavy line, with Project and features written at various points. There are lines connecting the two processes at three Product Release points labelled on the Product Lifecycle.

Effective product delivery requires thinking about more than just a single product

Good application and product management begins with strengthening good practices for a single or small set of applications, products, and services.

Product Portfolio --- Product Manager

The set of all products and product families.

Product Family --- Product Manager

A collection of related products. Products can be related along architectural, functional, or experiential axes.

We are starting here:

Product --- Product Owner

Single product composed of one or more applications and services.

Info-Tech Best Practice

It is easy to lose sight of what matters when we look at a product from a single point of view. Despite what "The Agile Manifesto" says, working software is not valuable without the knowledge and support that people need in order to adopt, use, and maintain it. If you build it, they will not come. Product owners must consider the needs of all stakeholders when designing and building products.

Product owners deliver enabling capabilities

Your organizational goals and strategy are achieved through capabilities that deliver value. The role of the product owner is to deliver products and services to enable these capabilities. Each product owner contributes to the larger value proposition so long as products and services remain aligned to enterprise priorities.

The image shows an organizational chart titled leadership structure. On the left, there is a vertical arrow pointing down labelled Enterprise Strategy, and on the right, there is an arrow pointing upwards labelled Enabling Capabilities.

Scale product owners to define product teams

Scaling product owners builds a network of related products into a coordinated delivery team.

Product Manager

  • Product Managers
    • Product Owners
    • Product Owners
    • Product Owners
  • Product Managers
    • Product Owners
    • Product Owners

"As with basic product management, scaling an organization is all about articulating the vision and communicating it effectively. Using a well defined framework helps you align the growth of your organization with that of the company. In fact how the product organization is structured is very helpful in driving the vision of what you as a product company are going to do."

- Rich Mironov, “Scaling Up Product Manager/Owner Teams”, Apr. 12, 2014

Select the right model for scaling product owners

Pyramid

  • Logical hierarchy of products rolling into a single service area
  • Lower levels of the pyramid focus on more discrete services
  • Example: Human resources mapping down to supporting applications

Service Grouping

  • Organization of related services into service family
  • Direct hierarchy does not necessarily exist within the family
  • Example: End-user support and ticketing

Technical Grouping

  • Logical grouping of IT infrastructure, platforms, or applications
  • Provides full lifecycle management when hierarchies do not exist
  • Example: Workflow and collaboration tools

Market Alignment

  • Grouping of products by customer segments or market strategy
  • Aligns product to end users and consumers
  • Example: Customer banking products and services

Organizational Alignment

  • Used at higher levels of the organization where products are aligned under divisions
  • Separation of product managers from organizational structure no longer distinct

Identify shared service products

Align to demand from other product owners.

Shared Service Product Owner

  • Consuming Product Owner
  • Consuming Product Owner
  • Consuming Product Owner
  • Consuming Product Owner

Shared products and services provide enabling capabilities for other products. A shared service product owner needs to understand all the sources of demand from other product owners, define clear criteria for prioritizing changes, and coordinate releases to align to other product owner roadmaps.

Info-Tech’s methodology for Build a Better Product Owner

1. Product Owner Foundations 2. Scale Product Owners 3. Mature Product Owners
Phase Steps

1.1 Establish product owners

1.2 Define product owner capabilities

1.3 Manage stakeholder influence

2.1 Define your product owner scaling principles and model

2.2 Define product owners for shared service products

2.3 Develop your product owner vision

Coming in a future release
Phase Outcomes Phase 1 establishes the foundation for product ownership and product owner capabilities. Product owners are assigned to existing product definitions. Phase 2 defines how products fit together into families. Scaling product owners and product managers ensures that product capabilities and priorities are aligned to enterprise strategy and goals. Phase 3 assesses and improves product owner capabilities. Using the product owner capability model, individual product owners determine their strengths and opportunity areas and develop a maturity action plan.

Insight summary

Overarching insight

There is no one-size-fits-all model for assigning and organizing product owners. Product owners must be aligned to ensure product capabilities and enhancements are aligned to enterprise goals and strategies at each level.

Phase 1 insight

  • Align product owners to your operational structure and delivery of products, not to your organizational chart.
  • Ensure product owners focus on all areas of the capability model.
  • Promote P&L responsibility, even for internal products and services.

Phase 2 insight

  • Choose the right model or models for organizing product owners into logical groups.
  • Product owner families align product changes to higher level goals and strategies.
  • Scale product owners to senior leadership, even if the role title is not used.

Phase 3 insight

  • Product owners need to assess and develop skills across all four capability model areas.

Tactical insight

Start with your product hierarchy and operational structure, then define where product owners are needed.

Tactical insight

Assign people to product owner roles. Do not define product owner roles based on people.

Blueprint deliverables

Each step of this blueprint is accompanied by supporting deliverables to help you accomplish your goals.

Product Owner Workbook

The workbook helps organize and communicate the outcomes of each activity.

Product Owner Capabilities:

  • Vision
  • Leadership
  • Value realization
  • Product lifecycle management

Key deliverable:

Product Owner Workbook

Capture and organize the outcomes of the activities in the product owner workbook.

Blueprint benefits

IT Benefits

  • Competent product owner who can support teams operating in any delivery methodology
  • Representative viewpoint and input from the technical and operational product owner perspectives
  • Products aligned to business needs and the committed work is achievable
  • Single point of contact with a business representative
  • Acceptance of product owner role outside the Scrum teams

Business Benefits

  • Better alignment to enterprise goals, vision, and outcomes
  • Improved coordination with stakeholders
  • Quantifiable value realization tied to vision
  • Product decisions made at the right time and with the right input
  • Product owner who has the appropriate business, operations, and technical knowledge

Measure the value of this blueprint

Align product owner metrics to product delivery and value realization.

Member Outcome Suggested Metric Estimated Impact
Increase business application satisfaction Satisfaction of business applications (CIO BV Diagnostic) 20% increase within 1 year after implementation
Increase effectiveness of application portfolio management Increase effectiveness of application portfolio management 20% increase within 1 year after implementation
20% increase within 1 year after implementation Importance and effectiveness to business (APA Diagnostic) 20% increase within 1 year after implementation
Increase satisfaction of support of business operations Support to business (CIO BV Diagnostic) 20% increase within 1 year after implementation
Successfully deliver committed work (productivity) Number of successful deliveries; burndown Reduction in project implementation overrun by 20%

Info-Tech offers various levels of support to best suit your needs

DIY Toolkit

“Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful.”

Guided Implementation

“Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track.”

Workshop

“We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place.”

Consulting

“Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project.”

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks used throughout all four options

Guided Implementation

What does a typical GI on this topic look like?

Phase 1

Call #1: Scope requirements, objectives, and your specific challenges

Phase 2

Call #2: 1.1 Establish product owners

Call #3: 1.2 Define product owner capabilities

Call #4: 1.3 Manage stakeholder influence

Call #5: 2.1: Define your product owner scaling principles and model

Call #6: 2.2 Define product owners for shared service products

Call #7: 2.3: Develop your product owner vision

Phase 3 Future release

A Guided Implementation (GI) is a series of calls with an Info-Tech analyst to help implement our best practices in your organization.

A typical GI is between 3 and 7 calls over the course of 2 to 8 weeks.

Workshop Overview

Contact your account representative for more information. workshops@infotech.com 1-888-670-8889

Day 0 Day 1 Day 2
Workshop Preparation Product Owner Foundations Scale Product Owners
Activities
  1. Update list of products and product hierarchy from transition to product delivery
  2. Reserve single conference room for all days
  3. Invite workshop participants
  4. Order workshop materials
  5. Order lunch if provided
  6. Secure building and Internet access for facilitators

1.1.1 Map owners to your products

1.1.2 Map product owner perspectives

1.1.3 Assign milestones to team roles

1.2.1 Define product ownership capabilities

1.3.1 Visualize interrelationships to identify key influencers

1.3.2 Group stakeholders into categories

1.3.3 Prioritize your stakeholders

1.3.4 Delegation Poker: Reach better decisions

2.1.1 Define your product owner scaling principles

2.1.2 Customize your model for scaling product owners

2.2.1 Map dependent product owner relationships

2.2.2 Group your product owners into categories

2.2.3 Prioritize your product owners

2.3.1 Define roadmap and backlog approach

Deliverables
  1. Workshop supplies
  2. List of products
  1. Product owner mapping
  2. Product owner perspective matrix
  3. Milestone responsibility matrix
  4. Product owner capability mapping
  5. Relationships among stakeholders and influencers
  6. Categorization of stakeholders and influencers
  7. Stakeholder and influencer prioritization
  1. List of product owner scaling principles
  2. Product owner hierarchy model with product owners defined
  3. Product owner mapping for shared products and services
  4. Product owner categorization
  5. Product owner prioritization strategy
  6. Product roadmap strategy

Follow Info-Tech’s research approach to improve product management

Delivery Focused

Implement Agile Practices That Work

Spread Best Practices With an Agile Center of Excellence

Enable Organization-Wide Collaboration by Scaling Agile

Produce Focused

*If Focused Here

Transition to Product Delivery

Build a Product Roadmap and Build a Better Backlog

Build a Better Product Owner (this blueprint)

Development Focused

Structure Your DevOps Adoption Using a Metrics-Driven Approach

Make Development Teams Leaner and Improve Time-to-Release in Five Steps

Follow Info-Tech’s research approach to improve product delivery

Product Focused

Transition to Product Delivery

Build a Product Roadmap and Build a Better Backlog

Build a Better Product Owner (this blueprint)

Delivery Focused

*If Focused Here

Implement Agile Practices That Work

Spread Best Practices With an Agile Center of Excellence

Enable Organization-Wide Collaboration by Scaling Agile

Development Focused

Structure Your DevOps Adoption Using a Metrics-Driven Approach

Make Development Teams Leaner and Improve Time-to-Release in Five Steps

Phase 1

Product Owner Foundations

Phase 1

1.1 Establish product owners

1.2 Define product owner capabilities

1.3 Manage stakeholder influence

Phase 2

2.1: Define your product owner scaling principles and model

2.2 Define product owners for shared service products

2.3: Develop your product owner vision

Phase 3

Coming in a future release

Build a Better Product Owner

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

Phase 1 establishes the foundation for product ownership and product owner capabilities. Product owners are assigned to existing product definitions.

This phase involves the following participants:

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Delivery managers
  • Business analysts

Step 1.1

Establish product owners

Activities

1.1.1 Map owners to your products

1.1.2 Map product owner perspectives

1.1.3 Assign milestones to team roles

Product Owner Foundations

Step 1.1 -- Step 1.2 -- Step 1.3

This step will walk you through the following activities:

This step assigns product owners to your product model and defines the primary, defines supporting product owner perspectives, and aligns milestone ownership.

This step involves the following participants:

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Delivery managers
  • Business analysts

Outcomes of this step

  • Product owner mapping
  • Product owner perspective matrix
  • Milestone responsibility matrix

Effective product delivery requires thinking about more than just a single product

Good application and product management begins with strengthening good practices for a single or small set of applications, products, and services.

Product Portfolio --- Product Manager

The set of all products and product families.

Product Family --- Product Manager

A collection of related products. Products can be related along architectural, functional, or experiential axes.

We are starting here:

Product --- Product Owner

Single product composed of one or more applications and services.

Info-Tech Best Practice

It is easy to lose sight of what matters when we look at a product from a single point of view. Despite what "The Agile Manifesto" says, working software is not valuable without the knowledge and support that people need in order to adopt, use, and maintain it. If you build it, they will not come. Product owners must consider the needs of all stakeholders when designing and building products.

Define product ownership to match your culture and customers

Characteristics of a discrete product

  • Has end users or consumers
  • Delivers quantifiable value
  • Evolves or changes over time
  • Has predictable delivery
  • Has definable boundaries
  • Has a cost to produce and operate

What does not need a product owner?

  • Individual features
  • Transactions
  • Unstructured data
  • One-time solutions
  • Non-repeatable processes
  • Solutions that have no users or consumers
  • People or teams

Need help defining your products or services? Download our blueprint Transition to Product Delivery.

Product owners deliver enabling capabilities

Your organizational goals and strategy are achieved through capabilities that deliver value. The role of the product owner is to deliver products and services to enable these capabilities. Each product owner contributes to the larger value proposition so long as products and services remain aligned to enterprise priorities.

The image shows an organizational chart titled leadership structure. On the left, there is a vertical arrow pointing down labelled Enterprise Strategy, and on the right, there is an arrow pointing upwards labelled Enabling Capabilities.

Identify the differences between a project-centric and a product-centric organization

Project Product
Fund projects →Funding→ Fund teams
Line of business sponsor →Prioritization→ Product owner
Project owner →Accountability→ Product owner
Makes specific changes to a product →Product management → Improves the maturity and support of the product
Assignment of people to work →Work allocation→ Assignment of work to product teams
Project manager manages →Capacity management → Team manages capacity

Info-Tech Insight

Product delivery requires significant shifts in the way you complete development work and deliver value to your users. Make the changes that support improving end-user value and enterprise alignment.

Projects can be a mechanism for funding product changes and improvements

The Projects Within the Product

Regardless of whether you recognize yourself as a product-based or project-based shop, the same basic principles should apply.

You go through a period or periods of project-like development to build a version of an application or product.

You also have parallel services along with your project development, which encompass the more product-based view. These may range from basic support and maintenance to full-fledged strategy teams or services like sales and marketing.

All applications can be considered products and all products have projects.

The image shows two boxes, the top one labelled Product Lifecycle, and the lower labelled Project Lifecycle. The Product lifecycle image shows an arrow arching upwards and to the right. It is labelled Continuous delivery of value. The Project lifecycle image shows a wavy line, with Project and features written at various points. There are lines connecting the two processes at three Product Release points labelled on the Product Lifecycle.

1.1.1 Map owners to your products

60 minutes

Input

Output

  • Product owner mapping

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Using your list of products, identify products in your functional or organizational area. Note: We don’t need to define the entire enterprise all at once, but you should identify products in your area.
  2. For each product and service, define the following:
    1. Who is the owner (role or person)?
    2. Is ownership clearly defined?
    3. Are there other stakeholders who make decisions for the product?
    4. Does the product have a backlog?
    5. Does the product have a roadmap?
    6. What is the parent product?
    7. What are the child products?
  3. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Recognize the product owner perspectives

Business

  • Customer facing, revenue generating

Operations

  • Keep the lights on processes

Technical

  • IT systems and tools

Info-Tech Insight

Recognize that product owners represent one of three primary perspectives. Although all share the same capabilities, how they approach their responsibilities is influenced by their perspective.

Info-Tech Best Practice

Product owners must translate needs and constraints from their perspective into the language of their audience. Kathy Borneman, Digital Product Owner at SunTrust Bank, noted the challenges of finding a common language between lines of business and IT (e.g. what is a unit?).

“A Product Owner in its most beneficial form acts like an Entrepreneur, like a 'mini-CEO'. The Product Owner is someone who really 'owns' the product.” – Robbin Schuurman, “Tips for Starting Product Owners”

Line of business (LOB) product owners

LOB product owners focus on the products and services consumed by the organization’s external consumers and users. The role centers on the market needs, competitive landscape, and operational support to deliver products and services.

Business Perspective

  • Alignment to enterprise strategy and priorities
  • Growth: market penetration and/or revenue
  • Perception of product value
  • Quality, stability, and predictability
  • Improvement and innovation
  • P&L
  • Market threats and opportunities
  • Speed to market
  • Service alignment
  • Meet or exceed individual goals

Relationship to Operations

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Speed of delivery and manual processing
  • Continuity

Relationship to Technical

  • Enabler
  • Analysis and insight
  • Lower operating and support costs

Technical product owners

Technical product owners are responsible for the IT systems, tools, platforms, and services that support business operations.

Technical Perspective

  • Application, application suite, or group of applications
  • Core platforms and tools
  • Infrastructure and networking
  • Third-party technology services
  • Enable business operations
  • Direct-to-customer product or service
  • Highly interconnected
  • Need for continuous improvement
  • End-of-life management
  • Internal value proposition and users

Relationship to Business

  • Direct consumers
  • End users
  • Source of funding

Relationship to Technical

  • End users
  • Process enablement or automation
  • Support, continuity, and manual intervention

Operations (service) product owners

Operational product owners focus on the people, processes, and tools needed for manual processing, actions, and decisions when automation is not cost-effective. Operational product owners are typically called service owners due to the nature of their work.

Operational Perspective

  • Business enablement
  • Continuity
  • Problem, incident, issue resolution
  • Process efficiency
  • Throughput
  • Error/defect avoidance
  • Decision enablement
  • Waste reduction
  • Limit time in process
  • Disaster recovery

Relationship to Business

  • Revenue enablement
  • Manual intervention and processing
  • End-user satisfaction

Relationship to Technical

  • Process enabler
  • Performance enhancement
  • Threat of automation

Include product owner perspectives to ensure product success

Product owner perspectives:

Business

  • Customer facing, revenue generating

Operations

  • Keep the lights on processes

Technical

  • IT systems and tools
  1. Each product owner perspective provides important feedback, demand, and support for the product.
  2. Where a perspective is represented by a distinct role, the perspective is managed with that product owner.
  3. If separate roles don’t exist, the product owner must evaluate their work using two or all three perspectives.
  4. The ultimate success of a product, and therefore product owner, is meeting the end-user value of the business product owner, tool support of the technical product owner, and manual processing support of the operations product owner.

1.1.2 Map product owner perspectives

60 minutes

Input

  • Product owner mapping for shared products

Output

  • Product owner perspective matrix

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. List each product owner in the first column.
  2. Identify which product owner represents each perspective. If there are multiple product owners who own a perspective (shared service product), simply refer to the shared service model.
  3. Define the primary perspective. This is the perspective that owns the master roadmap, backlog, and decisions.
  4. Identify which perspectives the product owner owns.
  5. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.
Product Owner Business Product Owner Perspective Technical Product Owner Perspective Operations Product Owner Perspective
Acme App Acme App Acme App (Primary, Own) Acme App (Own)
Private Label Cheese Private Label (Primary, Own) Labelling System Cheese Production Line

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Realign differences between project managers and product owners

Project Product
Fund projects →Funding→ Fund teams
Line of business sponsor →Prioritization→ Product owner
Project owner →Accountability→ Product owner
Makes specific changes to a product →Product management → Improves the maturity and support of the product
Assignment of people to work →Work allocation→ Assignment of work to product teams
Project manager manages →Capacity management → Team manages capacity

Manage and communicate key milestones

Successful product owners understand and define the key milestones in their product delivery lifecycles. These need to be managed along with the product backlog and roadmap.

Milestones

Milestones are points in the timeline when an established set of artifacts is complete. They are typically assigned a date and are used to show the progress of development.

Release Dates

Releases mark the actual delivery of a set of artifacts packaged together in a new version of the product. Release dates, firm or not, allow stakeholders to anticipate when this is coming.

The image shows three boxes side-by-side, labelled left from right: Current; Near Term; and Future. There is a green line in the Current box labelled Learning milestone; a green line in the Near Term box labelled Features A,B,C complete; and a blue line in the Future box labelled MVP or major release.

Info-Tech Best Practice

Product ownership isn’t just about managing the product backlog and development cycles. Teams need to manage key milestones such as learning milestones, test releases, product releases, phase gates, and other organizational checkpoints.

Define who manages each key milestone

Key milestones must be proactively managed. If a project manager is not available, those responsibilities need to be managed by the product owner or Scrum Master. Start with responsibility mapping to decide which role will be responsible.

Example Milestones Project Manager Product Owner Team Facilitator*
Initiation X X
Phase gates X X X
PMO compliance X X
Funding X X
ROI validation X X
Implementation approval X X X
Sprint/cycle acceptance X X X
Product release X X
Scope change X X X
Compliance X X X

*Scrum Master, Delivery Manager, Team Lead

1.1.3 Assign milestones to team roles

60 minutes

Input

  • List of team roles
  • List of milestones and approvals

Output

  • Milestone responsibility matrix

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Review your product and project delivery methodologies to identify key milestones (including approvals, gates, reviews, compliance checks, etc.). List each milestone on a flip chart or whiteboard.
  2. For each milestone, define who is accountable for the completion.
  3. For each milestone, define who is responsible for executing the milestone activity. (Who does the work that allows the milestone to be completed?)
  4. Review any responsibility and accountability gaps and identify opportunities to better support and execute your operating model.
  5. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Step 1.2

Define product owner capabilities

Activities

1.2.1 Define product ownership capabilities

Product Owner Foundations

Step 1.1 -- Step 1.2 -- Step 1.3

This step will walk you through the following activities:

Product owners operate from a common capability model. This step will help product owners understand the four facets of product ownership and identify the key capabilities needed for their product.

This step involves the following participants:

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Delivery managers
  • Business analysts

Outcomes of this step

  • Product owner capability mapping

Product capabilities deliver value

In Transition to Product Delivery, we identified the facets of a product. As a product owner, you are responsible for managing these facets through your capabilities and activities.

Value Stream Product Management & Governance Stakeholder & Relationship Management What Else? Product Delivery
Product Strategy External Relationships ? Managing & Governing Data
Product Governance Stakeholder Management ? Maintenance & Enhancement
Adoption ? Managing & Measuring Delivery
R&D User Support
Knowledge Requirements, Analysis & Design

Core Product

Funding → Business Functionality → Technology →

Info-Tech Best Practice

It is easy to lose sight of what matters when we look at a product from a single point of view. Despite what "The Agile Manifesto" says, working software is not valuable without the knowledge and support that people need in order to adopt, use, and maintain it. If you build it, they will not come. Product owners must consider the needs of all stakeholders when designing and building products.

Recognize product owner knowledge gaps

Info-Tech Insight

  1. Less than 15% of respondents identified analytics or financial management as a key component of product ownership.
  2. Assess your product owner capabilities and understanding to develop a maturity plan.

The image shows a bar graph, titled Pulse Survey to Product Owners. The highest percentage categories are labelled with the note: Alignment to common Agile definition of product owners. The lowest percentage categories include a note that reads: Significant perception gap in P&L, delivery, and analytics.

Develop product owner capabilities

Each capability has three components needed for successful product ownership. Definitions are on the following slides.

Define the skills and activities in each component that are directly related to your product and culture.

Product Owner Capabilities

  • Vision
    • Market Analysis
    • Business Alignment
    • Product Roadmap
  • Leadership
    • Soft Skills
    • Collaboration
    • Decision Making
  • Value Realization
    • KPIs
    • Financial Management
    • Business Model
  • Product Lifecycle Management
    • Plan
    • Build
    • Run

Capabilities: Vision

Market Analysis

  • Unique solution: Identify the target users and unique value your product provides that is not currently being met.
  • Market size: Define the size of your user base, segmentation, and potential growth.
  • Competitive analysis: Determine alternative solutions, products, or threats that affect adoption, usage, and retention.

Business Alignment

  • SWOT analysis: Complete a SWOT analysis for your end-to-end product lifecycle. Use Info-Tech’s Business SWOT Analysis Template.
  • Enterprise alignment: Align product to enterprise goals, strategies, and constraints.
  • Delivery strategy: Develop a delivery strategy to achieve value quickly and adapt to internal and external changes.

Product Roadmap

  • Roadmap strategy: Determine the duration, detail, and structure of your roadmap to accurately communicate your vision.
  • Value prioritization: Define criteria used to evaluate and sequence demand.
  • Go to market strategy: Create organizational change management, communications, and a user implementation approach.

Info-Tech Insight

Data comes from many places and may still not tell the complete story.

“Customers are best heard through many ears.” – Thomas K. Connellan, Inside the Magic Kingdom

Capabilities: Leadership

Soft Skills

  • Communication: Maintain consistent, concise, and appropriate communication using SMART guidelines (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely).
  • Integrity: Stick to your values, principles, and decision criteria for the product to build and maintain trust with your users and teams.
  • Influence: Manage stakeholders using influence and collaboration over contract negotiation.

Collaboration

  • Stakeholder management: Build a communications strategy for each stakeholder group, tailored to individual stakeholders.
  • Relationship management: Use every interaction point to strengthen relationships, build trust, and empower teams.
  • Team development: Promote development through stretch goals and controlled risks to build team capabilities and performance.

Decision Making

  • Prioritized criteria: Remove personal bias by basing decisions off data analysis and criteria.
  • Continuous improvement: Balance new features with the need to ensure quality and create an environment of continuous improvement.
  • Team empowerment/negotiation: Push decisions to teams closest to the problem and solution, using Delegation Poker to guide you.

Info-Tech Insight

Product owners cannot be just a proxy for stakeholder decisions. The product owner owns product decisions and management of all stakeholders.

“Everything walks the walk. Everything talks the talk.” – Thomas K. Connellan, Inside the Magic Kingdom

Capabilities: Product lifecycle management

Plan

  • Product backlog: Follow a schedule for backlog intake, grooming, updates, and prioritization.
  • Journey map: Create an end-user journey map to guide adoption and loyalty.
  • Fit for purpose: Define expected value and intended use to ensure product meets your end user’s needs.

Build

  • Capacity management: Work with operations and delivery teams to ensure consistent and stable outcomes.
  • Release strategy: Build learning, release, and critical milestones into a repeatable release plan.
  • Compliance: Build policy compliance into delivery practices to ensure alignment and reduce avoidable risk (privacy, security).

Run

  • Adoption: Focus attention on end-user adoption and proficiency to accelerate value and maximize retention.
  • Support: Build operational support and business continuity into every team.
  • Measure: Measure KPIs and validate expected value to ensure product alignment to goals and consistent product quality.

Info-Tech Insight

Product owners must actively manage the full lifecycle of the product.

“Pay fantastic attention to detail. Reward, recognize, celebrate.” – Thomas K. Connellan, Inside the Magic Kingdom

Capabilities: Value realization

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  • Usability and user satisfaction: Assess satisfaction through usage monitoring and end-user feedback.
  • Value validation: Directly measure performance against defined value proposition, goals, and predicted ROI.
  • Fit for purpose: Verify the product addresses the intended purpose better than other options.

Financial Management

  • P&L: Manage each product as if it were its own business with profit and loss statements.
  • Acquisition cost/market growth: Define the cost of acquiring a new consumer, onboarding internal users, and increasing product usage.
  • User retention/market share: Verify product usage continues after adoption and solution reaches new user groups to increase value.

Business Model

  • Defines value proposition: Dedicate your primary focus to understanding and defining the value your product will deliver.
  • Market strategy and goals: Define your acquisition, adoption, and retention plan for users.
  • Financial model: Build an end-to-end financial model and plan for the product and all related operational support.

Info-Tech Insight

Most organizations stop with on-time and on-budget. True financial alignment needs to define and manage the full lifecycle P&L.

“The competition is anyone the customer compares you with.” – Thomas K. Connellan, Inside the Magic Kingdom

Avoid common capability gaps

Vision

  • Focusing solely on backlog grooming (tactical only)
  • Ignoring or failing to align product roadmap to enterprise goals
  • Operational support and execution
  • Basing decisions on opinion rather than market data
  • Ignoring or missing internal and external threats to your product

Leadership

  • Failing to include feedback from all teams who interact with your product
  • Using a command and control approach
  • Viewing product owner as only a delivery role
  • Acting as a proxy for stakeholder decisions
  • Avoiding tough strategic decisions in favor of easier tactical choices

Product Lifecycle Management

  • Focusing on delivery and not the full product lifecycle
  • Ignoring support, operations, and technical debt
  • Failing to build knowledge management into the lifecycle
  • Underestimating delivery capacity, capabilities, or commitment
  • Assuming delivery stops at implementation

Value Realization

  • Focusing exclusively on “on time/on budget” metrics
  • Failing to measure a 360-degree end-user view of the product
  • Skipping business plans and financial models
  • Limiting financial management to project/change budgets
  • Ignoring market analysis for growth, penetration, and threats

1.2.1 Define product ownership capabilities

60 minutes

Input

  • Product owner capability model

Output

  • Product owner capability mapping

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Write down the capabilities needed by product owners to perform their duties (one per sticky note) in order to describe product ownership in your organization. Consider people, processes, and tools.
  2. Mark each capability with a plus (current capability), circle (some proficiency), or dash (missing capability).
  3. Discuss each capability and place on the appropriate quadrant.
  4. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Product Owner Capabilities

  • Leadership
  • Value Realization
  • Product Lifecycle Management
  • Vision

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Step 1.3

Manage stakeholder influence

Activities

1.3.1 Visualize interrelationships to identify key influencers

1.3.2 Group stakeholders into categories

1.3.3 Prioritize your stakeholders

1.3.4 Delegation Poker: Reach better decisions

Product Owner Foundations

Step 1.1 → Step 1.2 → Step 1.3

This step will walk you through the following activities:

To be successful, product owners need to identify and manage all stakeholders for their products. This step will build a stakeholder map and strategy.

This step involves the following participants:

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Delivery managers
  • Business analysts

Outcomes of this step

  • Relationships among stakeholders and influencers
  • Categorization of stakeholders and influencers
  • Stakeholder and influencer prioritization
  • Better understanding of decision-making approaches and delegation

Develop a product owner stakeholder strategy

Product Lifecycle

Project Delivery

Operational Support

Stakeholder Management

Stakeholders are a critical cornerstone to product ownership. They provide the context, alignment, and constraints that influence or control what a product owner can accomplish.

Product owners operate within a network of stakeholders who represent different perspectives within the organization.

First, product owners must identify members of their stakeholder network. Next, they should devise a strategy for managing stakeholders.

Without a stakeholder strategy, product owners will encounter obstacles, resistance, or unexpected changes.

Create a stakeholder network map to product roadmaps and prioritization

Follow the trail of breadcrumbs from your direct stakeholders to their influencers to uncover hidden stakeholders.

Example:

The image shows a stakeholder network map, with the Product Owner at the centre. A legend shows that black arrows indicate direction of professional influence, and dashed green arrows indicate informal bidirectional influence relationships.

Info-Tech Insight

Your stakeholder map defines the influence landscape your product operates in. It is every bit as important as the teams who enhance, support, and operate your product directly.

Use “connectors” to determine who may be influencing your direct stakeholders. They may not have any formal authority within the organization, but they may have informal yet substantive relationships with your stakeholders.

1.3.1 Visualize interrelationships to identify key influencers

60 minutes

Input

  • List of product stakeholders

Output

  • Relationships among stakeholders and influencers

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. List direct stakeholders for your product.
  2. Determine the stakeholders of your stakeholders and consider adding each of them to the stakeholder list.
  3. Assess who has either formal or informal influence over your stakeholders; add these influencers to your stakeholder list.
  4. Construct a diagram linking stakeholders and their influencers together.
    1. Use black arrows to indicate the direction of professional influence.
    2. Use dashed green arrows to indicate informal bidirectional influence relationships.
  5. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Categorize your stakeholders with a prioritization map

A stakeholder prioritization map helps product owners categorize their stakeholders by their level or influence and ownership in the product and/or teams.

There are four areas in the map, and the stakeholders within each area should be treated differently.

  • Players – players have a high interest in the initiative and the influence to effect change over the initiative. Their support is critical, and a lack of support can cause significant impediment to the objectives.
  • Mediators – mediators have a low interest but significant influence over the initiative. They can help to provide balance and objective opinions to issues that arise.
  • Noisemakers – noisemakers have low influence but high interest. They tend to be very vocal and engaged, either positively or negatively, but have little ability to enact their wishes.
  • Spectators – generally, spectators are apathetic and have little influence over or interest in the initiative.

The image shows a Stakeholder Prioritization Map, a grid separated into 4 sections, with the left side labelled with the word Influence vertically, and the bottom labelled with Ownership/Interest. The four quadrants of the map are: Mediators (top left); Players (top right); Noisemakers (lower right); Spectators (lower left).

1.3.2 Group stakeholders into categories

30 minutes

Input

  • Stakeholder map

Output

  • Categorization of stakeholders and influencers

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Identify your stakeholders’ interest in and influence on your Agile implementation as high, medium, or low by rating the attributes below.
  2. Map your results to the model below to determine each stakeholder’s category.
  3. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

The image is the same Stakeholder Prioritization Map from the previous section, but with roles superimposed over sections. CMO is placed left of centre, along the horizontal arrow. CIO and Product Manager are at the top right.

Level of Influence

  • Power: Ability of a stakeholder to effect change.
  • Urgency: Degree of immediacy demanded.
  • Legitimacy: Perceived validity of stakeholder’s claim.
  • Volume: How loud their “voice” is or could become.
  • Contribution: What they have that is of value to you.

Level of Interest

How much are the stakeholder’s individual performance and goals directly tied to the success or failure of the product?

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Prioritize your stakeholders

There may be too many stakeholders to be able to manage them all. Focus your attention on the stakeholders that matter most.

Level of Support
Stakeholder Category Supporter Evangelist Neutral Blocker
Player Critical High High Critical
Mediator Medium Low Low Medium
Noisemaker High Medium Medium High
Spectator Low Irrelevant Irrelevant Low

Consider the three dimensions for stakeholder prioritization: influence, interest, and support. Support can be determined by rating the following question: how likely is it that your stakeholder would recommend your product? These parameters are used to prioritize which stakeholders are most important and should receive your focused attention. The table below indicates how stakeholders are ranked.

1.3.3 Prioritize your stakeholders

30 minutes

Input

  • Stakeholder matrix
  • Stakeholder prioritization

Output

  • Stakeholder and influencer prioritization

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Identify the level of support of each stakeholder by answering the following question: how likely is it that your stakeholder would endorse your product?
  2. Prioritize your stakeholders using the prioritization scheme on the previous slide.
  3. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.
Stakeholder Category Level of Support Prioritization
CMO Spectator Neutral Irrelevant
CIO Player Supporter Critical

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Define strategies for engaging stakeholders by type

Authority

Mediators (Satisfy) Players (Engage)
Spectators (Monitor) Noisemakers (Inform)
Ownership/Interest →
Type Quadrant Actions
Players High influence, high interest – actively engage Keep them updated on the progress of the project. Continuously involve Players in the process and maintain their engagement and interest by demonstrating their value to its success.
Mediators High influence, low interest – keep satisfied They can be the game changers in groups of stakeholders. Turn them into supporters by gaining their confidence and trust and including them in important decision-making steps. In turn, they can help you influence other stakeholders.
Noisemakers Low influence, high interest – keep informed Try to increase their influence (or decrease it if they are detractors) by providing them with key information, supporting them in meetings, and using Mediators to help them.
Spectators Low influence, low interest – monitor They are followers. Keep them in the loop by providing clarity on objectives and status updates.

Info-Tech Insight

Each group of stakeholders draws attention and resources away from critical tasks. By properly identifying your stakeholder groups, the product owner can develop corresponding actions to manage stakeholders in each group. This can dramatically reduce wasted effort trying to satisfy Spectators and Noisemakers, while ensuring the needs of Mediators and Players are met.

1.3.4 Delegation Poker: Reach better decisions

60 minutes

Input

Output

  • Better understanding of decision-making approaches and delegation

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts

Visit Management 3.0, Delegation Poker to purchase or download the playing cards and for more information about Delegation Poker.

  1. Divide into teams of four to six people.
  2. For each stakeholder group, have someone share a scenario when a decision was needed.
  3. Using your cards or sticky notes, write the delegation approach you recommend.
  4. When the storyteller says, “Share,” everyone share your delegation approach.
  5. Discuss the high and low values.
  6. Repeat the vote based on the discussion and discuss the high and low values.
  7. As a team, settle on a recommended approach +/- one level of delegation.

Source: Management 3.0, Delegation Poker

Phase 2

Scale Product Owners

Phase 1

1.1 Establish product owners

1.2 Define product owner capabilities

1.3 Manage stakeholder influence

Phase 2

2.1: Define your product owner scaling principles and model

2.2 Define product owners for shared service products

2.3: Develop your product owner vision

Phase 3

Coming in a future release

Build a Better Product Owner

This phase will walk you through the following activities:

Once we’ve assigned product owners to manage products in our domain, segment, or area, we need to define how product owners fit together into families. Scaling product owners and product managers ensures that product capabilities and priorities are aligned to enterprise strategy and goals.

This phase involves the following participants:

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Delivery managers
  • Business analysts

Step 2.1

Define your product owner scaling principles and model

Activities

2.1.1 Define your product owner scaling principles

2.1.2 Customize your model for scaling product owners

Scale Product Ownership

Step 2.1 → Step 2.2 → Step 2.3

This step will walk you through the following activities:

This step helps product owners define the core principles for their scaling model, select the best scaling model(s), and align product owners to the model.

This step involves the following participants:

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Delivery managers
  • Business analysts

Outcomes of this step

  • List of product owner scaling principles
  • Product owner hierarchy model with product owners defined

Scale product owners to define product teams

Scaling product owners builds a network of related products into a coordinated delivery team.

Product Manager

  • Product Managers
    • Product Owners
    • Product Owners
    • Product Owners
  • Product Managers
    • Product Owners
    • Product Owners

"As with basic product management, scaling an organization is all about articulating the vision and communicating it effectively. Using a well defined framework helps you align the growth of your organization with that of the company. In fact how the product organization is structured is very helpful in driving the vision of what you as a product company are going to do."

- Rich Mironov, “Scaling Up Product Manager/Owner Teams”, Apr. 12, 2014

Differentiate between product owners and product managers

Product Owner (Tactical Focus)

  • Backlog management and prioritization
  • Epic/story definition, refinement in conjunction with business stakeholders
  • Sprint planning with Scrum Master
  • Working with Scrum Master to minimize disruption to team velocity
  • Ensuring alignment between business and Scrum teams during sprints
  • P&L product analysis and monitoring

Product Manager (Strategic Focus)

  • Product strategy, positioning, and messaging
  • Product vision and product roadmap
  • Competitive analysis and positioning
  • New product innovation/definition
  • Release timing and focus (release themes)
  • Ongoing optimization of product-related marketing and sales activities
  • P&L product analysis and monitoring

Info-Tech Best Practice

“Product owner” and “product manager” are terms that should be adapted to fit your culture and product hierarchy. These are not management relationships but rather a way to structure related products and services that touch the same end users.

Focus on product and service families

The image shows an organizational chart titled leadership structure. On the left, there is a vertical arrow pointing down labelled Enterprise Strategy, and on the right, there is an arrow pointing upwards labelled Enabling Capabilities.

Scaling products is not aligning products to your org chart. Build a product structure that supports cascading enterprise goals down and building enabling capabilities up to your leadership structure.

Ultimately, your CEO is your chief product officer.

Select the right model for scaling product owners

Pyramid

  • Logical hierarchy of products rolling into a single service area
  • Lower levels of the pyramid focus on more discrete services
  • Example: Human resources mapping down to supporting applications

Service Grouping

  • Organization of related services into service family
  • Direct hierarchy does not necessarily exist within the family
  • Example: End-user support and ticketing

Technical Grouping

  • Logical grouping of IT infrastructure, platforms, or applications
  • Provides full lifecycle management when hierarchies do not exist
  • Example: Workflow and collaboration tools

Market Alignment

  • Grouping of products by customer segments or market strategy
  • Aligns product to end users and consumers
  • Example: Customer banking products and services

Organizational Alignment

  • Used at higher levels of the organization where products are aligned under divisions
  • Separation of product managers from organizational structure no longer distinct

Scaling model: Single-focus pyramid

  • Logical hierarchy of products rolling into a single service area.
  • Lower levels of the pyramid focus on more discrete services.
  • Human resources is one functional unit with a clear purpose. Within HR, however, there are sub-functions that operate independently.
  • Each operational team is supported by one or more applications or modules within a primary HR system.
  • Even though the teams work independently, the information they manage is shared with or ties into processes used by other teams. Coordination of efforts helps provide a higher level of service and consistency.
  • Example: Human resources functions mapping to supporting application modules.

Human Resources

  • Human capital
    • Performance
      • Annual review system
      • Learning management system
      • Spot feedback tracker
    • Career management
      • Internal job site
      • Employment history
    • New hire
      • External job site
      • Interview tracker
      • Onboarding
  • Benefits
    • Healthcare
      • Multiple systems
    • Retirement
      • Multiple systems
  • Other services

Scaling model: Service grouping

  • Organization of related services into service family.
  • Direct hierarchy does not necessarily exist within the family.
  • Service groupings are common for service owners (also known as support managers, operations managers, etc.).
  • The focus for service grouping is the end-user services and support.
  • Often work is based on one or more ticketing systems to help manage work.
  • The goal is to create a unified service team that can address most of the needs of the end users.
  • Example: End-user support and ticketing.

Production support

  • Application support
    • Platform or application family
      • Application or system
      • Application or system
      • Application or system
    • Platform or application family
      • Application or system
      • Application or system
    • Platform or application family
      • Application or system
      • Application or system
      • Application or system
  • Identity and access management
    • IAM platform
      • IAM modules and integrations
    • Attestation system
      • Integrations
  • Desktop support

Scaling model: Technical grouping

  • Logical grouping of IT infrastructure, platforms, or applications.
  • Provides full lifecycle management when hierarchies do not exist.
  • Technical grouping is often used by technical product owners.
  • Alignment into tool, platform, or skill areas improves delivery capabilities and resource scalability.
  • At higher levels, product managers prioritize demand based on the needs and priorities of other product owners consuming these services.
  • Example: Workflow and collaboration tools.

Shared services

  • Collaboration tools
    • Salesforce
      • CRM
      • Account management
      • Back office integrations
    • SharePoint
      • Team sites
      • Team portals
    • Project delivery
      • Requirements management
      • Delivery collaboration
      • Testing and deployment
  • Workflow tools
    • Ticketing
    • Application workflow
      • Multiple systems
  • SOA platform

Scaling model: Market alignment

  • Grouping of products by customer segments or market strategy.
  • Aligns product to end users and consumers.
  • Market alignment focuses product owners into the channels, verticals, or market segments in the same way customers and users view the organization.
  • Customers do not care how an organization is structured. They want one stop to solve all their issues, needs, and transactions.
  • Market alignment ensures that all products and services provide a consistent and unified experience across all products and service channels.
  • Example: Financial services.

Banking

  • Consumer banking
    • Direct deposit accounts
      • Checking
      • Savings
      • Money market
    • Credit cards
      • Unsecured
      • Secured
    • Loans
      • Auto
      • Home mortgage
      • Installment
  • Small business
    • Payroll services
      • Cash and payroll system
    • Lines of credit
      • Lending platforms
  • Enterprise customers

Scaling model: Align to org chart

The image shows the same Leadership structure from earlier sections, without the arrows on either side.

  • Coordinated alignment of management structure with products.
  • Often used at higher levels of the organization where products are aligned under divisions.
  • Think of the c-suite as the chief product and service officers. Ultimately, they own the delivery, growth, and support for all products and services within their division.
  • Typically, our CXOs don’t think of themselves this way. At some level in the organization, we need to map our product managers into the static org chart.
  • This will align product decisions under the leadership team as virtual product owners.

Determine product owner alignment

Value Stream

Align product owners based on the defined sources of value for a collection of products or services.

For example: Wholesale channel for products that may also be sold directly to consumers, such as wireless network service.

Users/Consumers

Align product owners based on a common group of users or product consumers.

For example: Consumer vs. small business vs. enterprise customers in banking, insurance, and healthcare.

Common Domain

Align product owners based on a common domain knowledge or skillset needed to deliver and support the products.

For example: Applications in a shared service framework used across organizational lines and individual applications.

Recommended Practices

  • One size does not fit all. There is no single or static product owner model that fits all product teams.
  • Structure relationships based on your organizational needs and capabilities.
  • Be flexible. Product ownership is designed to enable value delivery.
  • Avoid structures that promote proxy product ownership.
  • Make decisions based on products and services, not people, then assign people to the roles in your model.
  • Align to org structure at higher levels when the senior leader becomes the virtual product owner.

2.1.1 Define your product owner scaling principles

30 minutes

Input

Output

  • List of product owner scaling principles

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Discuss the guiding principles of your product owner model. Your guiding principles should consider key business priorities, team and personal objectives, and team and organizational cultures, such as:
    1. Improving collaboration between stakeholders and development teams;
    2. Improving resource utilization and productivity;
    3. Improving the quality and value of products; and
    4. Providing better coordination between related products and services.
  2. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

2.1.2 Customize your model for scaling product owners

60 minutes

Input

Output

  • Product owner hierarchy model with product owners defined

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. If you completed a product hierarchy during Transition to Product Delivery or already have a product hierarchy, use that design as the basis for scaling product owners. Note: Scaling product owners requires us to assign product owner roles to different products at different levels. This should generally mirror your product hierarchy, but not always. Focus on roles, not people.
  2. Discuss the different scaling models and select the primary model for your area.
  3. Build a diagram of product owners using this model. Use a sticky note for each product owner so that you can move and adjust product owners as you debate the hierarchy. Note: Build the product/service hierarchy, not secondary products or services that are dependent on the product. Defining dependent and consuming products is a later exercise.
  4. Update the “Parent” and “Child” columns in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook “PO Mapping” worksheet from 1.1.1.

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Step 2.2

Define product owners for shared service products

Activities

2.2.1 Map dependent product owner relationships

2.2.2 Group your product owners into categories

2.2.3 Prioritize your product owners

Scale Product Ownership

Step 2.1 → Step 2.2 → Step 2.3

This step will walk you through the following activities:

This step will help shared service product owners define a network map and strategy for managing demand from product owners who consume their product.

This step involves the following participants:

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Delivery managers
  • Business analysts

Outcomes of this step

  • Product owner mapping for shared products and services
  • Product owner categorization
  • Product owner prioritization strategy

Define product owners for shared service products

Use only when defining product owners for shared service products.

Business product owners in multi-product areas Technical product owners in multi-app areas Operational product owners in multi-service areas
Primary Vision Roadmap to support needs growth of consuming products Roadmap to provide technical capabilities to support consuming applications Roadmap to provide service capabilities to support end users of multiple products
Product Lifecycle Management Prioritize delivery of capabilities that are aligned to enterprise and product family goals. Hold changes to match consuming product release plans.
Value Realization

Direct: KPIs defined for product/service capabilities

Indirect: KPIs for consuming products/services using the capabilities

Example Premium or discount membership program Customer billing platform Call center supporting customers and products

Info-Tech Insight

Product owners managing shared services or platforms have additional complexities to define. Product owners must manage complex demand requests, competing priorities, release dependencies, and internal value realization.

Create a product owner network map to manage demand, priorities, and conflicts

Follow the trail of breadcrumbs from your direct product owners to their stakeholders and influencers to uncover additional sources of demand and prioritization.

Info-Tech Insight

Your product owner map defines the influence landscape your product operates in. It is every bit as important as the teams who enhance, support, and operate your product directly.

Combine your product owner map with your stakeholder map to create a comprehensive view of influencers.

The image shows a Product Owner Network Map, with the Product Owner in the centre, and showing the connections between this role and others in the organization using arrows.

2.2.1 Map dependent product owner relationships

60 minutes

Input

  • Product owner hierarchy model from step 2.2.1
  • Product hierarchy from transition to product delivery
  • Existing product hierarchy
  • List of all product being scaled
  • List of product owners creating demand or changes

Output

  • Product owner mapping for shared products and services

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Write each dependent product owner on a sticky note and place on the board or flip chart.
  2. Draw an arrow indicating the direction of demand and influence.
    1. Arrows pointing to you are product owners who request changes from you.
    2. Arrows pointing away from you are product owners you need to enable your product.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 looking for product owners who directly influence or affect the product owners you are mapped directly to.
  4. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Categorize shared product owners

A prioritization map helps product owners categorize their stakeholders by their level or influence and ownership in the product and/or teams.

There are four areas in the map, and the stakeholders within each area should be treated differently.

  • Players – Players have a high interest in the initiative and the influence to effect change over the initiative. Their support is critical, and a lack of support can cause significant impediment to the objectives.
  • Mediators – Mediators have a low interest but significant influence over the initiative. They can help to provide balance and objective opinions to issues that arise.
  • Noisemakers – Noisemakers have low influence but high interest. They tend to be very vocal and engaged, either positively or negatively, but have little ability to enact their wishes.
  • Spectators – Generally, spectators are apathetic and have little influence over or interest in the initiative.

The image shows a Stakeholder Prioritization Map, a grid separated into 4 sections, with the left side labelled with the word Influence vertically, and the bottom labelled with Ownership/Interest. The four quadrants of the map are: Mediators (top left); Players (top right); Noisemakers (lower right); Spectators (lower left).

2.2.2 Group your product owners into categories

30 minutes

Input

  • Product owner map

Output

  • Product owner categorization

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Identify your product owners’ interest in and influence on your product as high, medium, or low by rating the attributes below.
  2. Map your results to the model below to determine each product owner’s category.
  3. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

The image shows the same prioritization map as in previous sections, with specific roles superimposed over it. At the lower left, near centre is Product Owner; to the right of the centre, is Product Owner; and at the top right is Product Manager.

Level of Influence

  • Power: Ability of a stakeholder to effect change.
  • Urgency: Degree of immediacy demanded.
  • Legitimacy: Perceived validity of stakeholder’s claim.
  • Volume: How loud their “voice” is or could become.
  • Contribution: What they have that is of value to you.

Level of Interest

How much are the stakeholder’s individual performance and goals directly tied to the success or failure of the product?

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Prioritize mapped product owners

Level of Support
Product Owner Category Supporter Evangelist Neutral Blocker
Player Critical High High Critical
Mediator Medium Low Low Medium
Noisemaker High Medium Medium High
Spectator Low Irrelevant Irrelevant Low

Consider the three dimensions for prioritization: influence, interest, and support. Support can be determined by rating how likely is it that your priorities are aligned with theirs. This matrix will help define how important of a role each product owner will play in your success.

2.2.3 Prioritize your product owners

30 minutes

Input

  • Product owner map
  • Product owner prioritization

Output

  • Product owner prioritization strategy

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Identify the level of support of each product owner by estimating how closely aligned your product goals and priorities are.
  2. Prioritize your product owners using the prioritization scheme on the previous slide.
  3. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.
Stakeholder Category Level of Support Prioritization
Product Owner Player Supporter Critical
Product Owners Spectator Neutral Irrelevant

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.

Define strategies for engaging product owners by type

Authority

Mediators (Satisfy) Players (Engage)
Spectators (Monitor) Noisemakers (Inform)
Ownership/Interest →
Type Quadrant Actions
Players High influence, high interest – actively engage Keep them updated on the progress of the project. Continuously involve Players in the process and maintain their engagement and interest by demonstrating their value to its success.
Mediators High influence, low interest – keep satisfied They can be the game changers in groups of stakeholders. Turn them into supporters by gaining their confidence and trust and including them in important decision-making steps. In turn, they can help you influence other stakeholders.
Noisemakers Low influence, high interest – keep informed Try to increase their influence (or decrease it if they are detractors) by providing them with key information, supporting them in meetings, and using Mediators to help them.
Spectators Low influence, low interest – monitor They are followers. Keep them in the loop by providing clarity on objectives and status updates.

Info-Tech Insight

Each group of product owners draws attention and resources away from critical tasks. By properly identifying these groups, the product owner can develop corresponding actions to manage product owners in each group. This can dramatically reduce wasted effort trying to satisfy Spectators and Noisemakers, while ensuring the needs of the Mediators and Players are met.

Step 2.3

Develop your product owner vision

Activities

2.3.1 Define roadmap and backlog approach

Scale Product Ownership

Step 2.1 → Step 2.2 → Step 2.3 →

This step will walk you through the following activities:

This step will help product owners align their roadmap and backlog strategy to match the level of their product or product family.

This step involves the following participants:

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Delivery managers
  • Business analysts

Outcomes of this step

  • Product roadmap strategy

Use product roadmaps to guide delivery

In Build a Product Roadmap, we showed how the product roadmap is key to value realization. As a product owner, the product roadmap is your communicated path to align teams and changes to your defined goals, while aligning your product to enterprise goals and strategy.

The image shows four categories (Vision and Leadership; Strategy and Market Research; Product Lifecycle Management; and Business Alignment and Financials) flowing into a green circle at centre labelled Product Roadmap. Flowing from the centre is an arrow labelled Product Delivery Pipeline/Delivery Capacity and Throughput, and the arrow points to Business Value Realization.

Info-Tech Best Practice

Product delivery requires a comprehensive set of business and technical competencies to effectively roadmap, plan, deliver, support, and validate your product portfolio. Product delivery is a “multi-faceted, complex discipline that can be difficult to grasp and hard to master.” It will take time to learn and adopt methods and become a competent product manager or owner (Pichler, “What Is Product Management?”).

Match your roadmap and backlog to the needs of the product

Ultimately, you want products to be able to respond faster to changes and deliver value sooner. The level of detail in the roadmap and backlog is a tool to help the product owner plan for change. The duration of your product roadmap is all directly related to the tier of product owner in the product family.

Tactical Technical Committed ←→ Strategic Goal-Based Flexible

Shift focus to strategic goals as product management higher in the scale →

The image shows a Product Roadmap, showing Current, Near Term, and Future across the bottom, with the left hand side labelled Features/Stories. There is a horizontal line labelled Time, and a diagonal line labelled Detail.

The image shows a Product Family/Portfolio Roadmap, with the left hand side labelled Epics/Capabilities. There is a horizontal line labelled Time, and a diagonal line labelled Detail.

Identify the right type of artifact for your roadmap

Product owners need to define both the duration and level of detail for roadmaps and backlogs. For additional guidance, please refer to Build a Better Product Roadmap and Build a Better Backlog.

Waterfall Scrum Relationship Definition
Idea Is realized by one or more: A valuable yet partially defined goal or objective that requires further analysis from various teams.
Business goal Epic Is realized by one or more: A statement of a goal or objective that can be estimated and has a defined business value to the organization.
Capability Capability Is realized by one or more: A product or service that one or more stakeholders needs in order to satisfy the business goal or epic and that has a measurable value to the organization.
Feature Feature Is realized by one or more: Functionality the solution needs to provide stakeholders in order to deliver and enable the capability.
Business requirement User Story Is defined and constrained by: Discrete user action, outcome, or value needed for the feature to deliver value.
Functional and non-functional requirements Functional and non-functional requirements Is implemented through: Enough supporting requirements to clearly define the outcome, functionality, and constraints.
Activity Task Fulfills the requirements Measurable work the delivery team must do to satisfy requirements.

2.3.1 Define roadmap and backlog approach

60 minutes

Input

  • Product owner hierarchy model with product owners defined
  • Product owner mapping for shared products and services

Output

  • Product roadmap strategy

Materials

  • Whiteboard/flip charts
  • Markers
  • Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Participants

  • Product owners
  • Product managers
  • Development team leads
  • Portfolio managers
  • Business analysts
  1. Define the target characteristics of your product roadmap. Build your roadmap plan on a sticky pad or whiteboard.
    1. What time period represents Current, Near Term, and Future?
    2. What level of detail is needed for each period?
    3. How many items should you manage in each period?
  2. Translate the product roadmap into your product backlog characteristics.
    1. What level of detail is needed for each period?
    2. How many items should you manage in each period?
  3. Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook.
Roadmap Current Near Term Future
Time period 3 months 6-9 months > 9 months
Level of detail Features Epics Theme
How many items 12 +/- 3 5 +/- 3 3 +/- 1

Record the results in the Build a Better Product Owner Workbook

Summary of Accomplishment

Problem solved.

Product ownership can be one of the most difficult challenges facing delivery and operations teams. By focusing on operational grouping and alignment of goals, organizations can improve their value realization at all levels in the organization.

The foundation for delivering and enhancing products and services is rooted in the same capability model. Traditionally, product owners have focused on only a subset of skills and capabilities needed to properly manage and grow their products. The product owner capability model is a useful tool to ensure optimal performance from product owners and assess the right level of detail for each product within the product families.

The best product owner alignment and organization is one tuned to the operational and end-user needs. Selecting the best model helps ensure that product capabilities delivered will support enterprise goals and priorities cascaded through product families.

Congratulations. You’ve completed a significant step towards improved products and services.

If you would like additional support, have our analysts guide you through other phases as part of an Info-Tech workshop.

Contact your account representative for more information.

workshops@infotech.com

1-888-670-8889.

Additional Support

If you would like additional support, have our analysts guide you through other phases as part of an Info-Tech Workshop.

Contact your account representative for more information.

workshops@infotech.com 1-888-670-8889

To accelerate this project, engage your IT team in an Info-Tech workshop with an Info-Tech analyst team.

Info-Tech analysts will join you and your team at your location or welcome you to Info-Tech’s historic Toronto office to participate in an innovative onsite workshop.

The following are sample activities that will be conducted by Info-Tech analysts with your team:

1.2.2 Map product owner perspectives

2.2.1 Map dependent product owner relationships

Research Contributors and Experts

Mark Pearson

Principal IT Architect, First Data Corporation

  • Mark Pearson is an executive business leader grounded in the process, data, technology, and operations of software-driven business. He knows the enterprise software landscape and is skilled in product, technology, and operations design and delivery within information technology organizations, outsourcing firms, and software product companies.

Angela Weller

Scrum Master, Businessolver

  • Angela Weller is an experienced Agile business analyst who collaborates with key stakeholders to attain their goals and contributes to the achievement of the company’s strategic objectives to ensure a competitive advantage. She excels when mediating or facilitating teams.

Charlie Campbell

Product Owner, Merchant e-Solutions

  • Charlie Campbell is an experienced problem solver with the ability to quickly dissect situations and recommend immediate actions to achieve resolution, liaise between technical and functional personnel to bridge the technology and communication gap, and work with diverse teams and resources to reach a common goal.

Brenda Peshak

Product Owner, Widget Industries, LLC

  • Brenda Peshak is skilled in business process, analytical skills, Microsoft Office Suite, communication, and customer relationship management (CRM). She is a strong product management professional with a Masters focused in Business Leadership (MBL) from William Penn University.

Hoi Kun Lo

Product Owner, Nielsen

  • Hoi Kun Lo is an experienced change agent who can be found actively participating within the IIBA and WITI groups in Tampa, FL, and is a champion for Agile, architecture, and diversity and inclusion programs at Nielsen. She currently leads and connects teams as a product owner with Nielsen Global Media.

Kathy Borneman

Digital Product Owner, SunTrust Bank

  • Kathy Borneman is a senior product owner who helps people enjoy their jobs again by engaging others in end-to-end decision making to deliver software and operational solutions that enhance the client experience and allow people to think and act strategically.

Related Info-Tech Research

Transition to Product Delivery

Improve collaboration and transparency with the business to minimize project failure.

Implement Agile Practices That Work

Improve collaboration and transparency with the business to minimize project failure.

Extend Agile Practices Beyond IT

Further the benefits of Agile by extending a scaled Agile framework to the business.

Build a Better Product Roadmap

Create a roadmap that suits your objectives, the characteristics of your product, and the environment it lives in.

Build a Better Backlog

The quality of your product backlog is key to realizing the benefits of Agile.

Build a Product Canvas

Bridge the gap between your product roadmap and backlog for stakeholders and delivery teams.

Bibliography

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Adams, Paul. “Product Teams: How to Build & Structure Product Teams for Growth.” Inside Intercom, Inside Intercom, 30 Oct. 2019. Web.

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Banfield, Richard, et al. “On-Demand Webinar: Strategies for Scaling Your (Growing) Enterprise Product Team.” Pluralsight, Pluralsight, 31 Jan. 2018. Web.

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Breddels, Dajo, and Paul Kuijten. “Product Owner Value Game.” Agile2015 Conference. 2015. Web.

Cagan, Martin. “Behind Every Great Product.” Silicon Valley Product Group. 2005. Web.

Connellan, Thomas K. Inside the Magic Kingdom, Bard Press, 1997. Print.

Eringa, Ron. “Evolution of the Product Owner.” RonEringa.com. 12 June 2016. Web.

Fernandes, Thaisa. “Spotify Squad Framework - Part I.” Medium.com. 6 Mar. 2017. Web.

Galen, Robert. “Measuring Product Ownership – What Does ‘Good’ Look Like ....” RGalen Consulting. 5 Aug. 2015. Web.

Halisky, Merland, and Luke Lackrone. “The Product Owner’s Universe.” Agile Alliance, Agile2016. 2016. Web.

Kamer, Jurriaan. “How to Build Your Own ‘Spotify Model’.” Medium.com. 9 Feb. 2018. Web.

Lindstrom, Lowell. “7 Skills You Need to Be a Great Product Owner.” Scrum Alliance. n.d. Web.

Lukassen, Chris. “The Five Belts Of The Product Owner.” Xebia.com. 20 Sept. 2016. Web.

Management 3.0. “Delegation Poker Product Image.” Management 3.0. n.d. Web.

McCloskey, Heather. “Scaling Product Management: Secrets to Defeating Common Challenges.” Scaling Product Management: Secrets to Defeating Common Challenges, ProductPlan, 12 July 2019 . Web.

McCloskey, Heather. “When and How to Scale Your Product Team.” UserVoice Blog, UserVoice, 21 Feb. 2017. Web.

Medium.com. “Exploring Key Elements of Spotify’s Agile Scaling Model.” Medium.com. 23 Jul. 2018. Web.

Mironov, Rich. “Scaling Up Product Manager/Owner Teams: Rich Mironov's Product Bytes.” Rich Mironov's Product Bytes, Mironov Consulting, 12 Apr. 2014 . Web.

Overeem, Barry. “A Product Owner Self-Assessment.” Barry Overeem. 6 Mar. 2017. Web.

Overeem, Barry. “Retrospective: Using the Team Radar.” Barry Overeem. 27 Feb. 2017. Web.

Pichler, Roman. “How to Scale the Scrum Product Owner.” Roman Pichler, 28 June 2016 . Web.

Pichler, Roman. “Product Management Framework.” Pichler Consulting Limited. 2014. Web.

Pichler, Roman. “Sprint Planning Tips for Product Owners.” LinkedIn. 4 Sept. 2018. Web.

Pichler, Roman. “What Is Product Management?” Pichler Consulting Limited. 26 Nov. 2014. Web.

Radigan, Dan. “Putting the ‘Flow' Back in Workflow With WIP Limits.” Atlassian. n.d. Web.

Schuurman, Robbin. “10 Tips for Product Owners on Agile Product Management.” Scrum.org. 28 Nov. 2017. Web.

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Schuurman, Robbin. “10 Tips for Product Owners on Product Backlog Management.” Scrum.org. 5 Dec. 2017. Web.

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Appendix

Pulse Survey Results

Pulse Survey (N=18): What are the key components of product/service ownership?

Answer Choices Responses
Product Roadmap 72.22%
Backlog Management 77.78%
Business Practice Alignment 33.33%
Financials: Budget 11.11%
Financials: Business Model 5.56%
Financials: P&L 11.11%
Operational Alignment 27.78%
User Experience 77.78%
Strategy 55.56%
Change Management 61.11%
Market Research 38.89%
Vision 56.56%
Value Canvas/Mapping 33.33%
Leadership 66.67%
Product Lifecycle Management 61.11%
Answer Choices Responses
Delivery Capacity Management 16.67%
Throughput Management 11.11%
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 27.78%
Marketing 16.67%
Communications 44.44%
Compliance 22.22%
Innovation 38.89%
Growth 22.22%
Workflow Management 16.67%
Community Buy-in 38.89%
Platform Functionality 16.67%
Mobile 16.67%
Data and Analytics 16.67%

Pulse Survey (N=18): What are the key individual skills for a product/service owner?

Answer Choices Responses
Vision 83.33%
Evangelism 44.44%
Sales 11.11%
Marketing 11.11%
Product Passion 55.56%
Customer Empathy 94.44%
Intelligence 55.56%
Objectivity 66.67%
Work Ethic 50.00%
Integrity 61.11%
Confidence 66.67%
Communication Skills 77.78%
Organization 72.22%
Listening Skills 77.78%
Customer Knowledge 77.78%
Answer Choices Responses
Product Knowledge 88.89%
Competitor Knowledge 66.67%
Technology Knowledge 33.33%
Organizational Knowledge 72.22%
No Excuses 27.78%
Defining Success 66.67%
Nothing Sacred 38.89%
Applying Technology 38.89%
Focus 50.00%
Time Management 61.11%
Writing Skills 66.67%
Presentation Skills 77.78%
Business Skills 61.11%
Analytics 38.89%
Negotiation 50.00%
  • Anticipating client needs, being able to support delivery in all phases of the product lifecycle, adaptability, ensuring a healthy backlog (at least two sprints worth of work).
  • Requirements elicitation and prioritization.
  • The key skill is being product focused to ensure it provides value for competitive advantage.

Pulse Survey (N=18): What are three (3) things an outstanding product/service owner does that an average one doesn’t?

Inspires team; possesses product vision; defines MVP

1) Prioritizes features to achieve results 2) Works as liaison between IT, management, and users 3) Compromises to keep the train on the track

Focuses on outcome over output; builds shared understanding; ensures decisions get made

Pays attention to detail; bridges the IT business communications gap; manages expectations

1) LOB’s requirement 2) By when it has to be deployed 3) Knowledge of similar products in the market

Knows they own the product; takes lead on decisions and future of the product; guides teams and increases use and adoption

1) Knows long-term vision 2) Thinks outside the box 3) Acts as a salesperson, proactively reads articles on market trends, and utilizes the information to solution a better product

1) Manages both customer needs and development team needs 2) Represents the customer but, where possible, includes customer in the development process 3) Understands what the value of a service/product is and quantifying success criteria

Product knowledge; strong relationship-building skills; enterprise vision

Figures out what the customer needs, not what they asked for; understands how everything fits together; uses critical thinking skills

Holistic knowledge of the product so they can provide gap analysis; knowledge of full spectrum of the SDLC and can play in any and all sandboxes; self-starter and researcher

Communication; prioritization; negotiation

Communicates product vision to team and constituents; makes decisions and defends them (sticks by them); clarifies goals and strategy to team and constituents to create a shared vision of product future

Communicates and keeps focus on a vision; enables the team to innovate; negotiates well around what is valuable

1) Forecasts the ordinarily "unforeseeable" 2) Identifies and manages the concerns and objections of difficult stakeholders 3) Praises the team publicly and privately offers sensitive criticism

Coordinates between development teams effectively; transfers knowledge to others; always looks ahead

1) Adapts when execution does not go according to plan and reprioritizes on the fly 2) Revises/rewrites acceptance criteria quickly and effectively based on new incoming information 3) Builds a close working relationship with the engineering team so ideas can be communicated efficiently

Understands how the product actually works in the context of the technology, as well as internal and customer operations

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Author

Hans Eckman

Contributors

  • Mark Pearson, Principal IT Architect, First Data Corporation
  • Angela Weller, Sr. Agile Business Analyst/Product Owner, CO-OP Financial Services
  • Charlie Campbell, Product Owner, Merchant e-Solutions
  • Brenda Peshak, Product Owner, Widget Industries, LLC
  • Hoi Kun Lo, Product Owner, Nielsen
  • Kathy Borneman, Digital Product Owner, SunTrust Bank
  • 18 individuals completed an online Pulse Survey
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