Who wants to be a product owner? The answer is “No one”! What a product owner does? In an agile software development project, product owner is responsible for maintaining the Product Backlog by representing the interests of the stakeholders. So this person need work with different project stakeholders who might be from more than one business unit to collect and prioritize the requirement. The typical challenges are
- Difficult to coordinate business units and software development service providers to spend time together and figure out the high priority requirement.
- Difficult to prioritize backlog across business units.
- Normally corporation does not give enough support to product owner.
- Business units ALWAYS complain that why their requirement could not be done first.
Ideally product owners should come from business because they are supposed to know business better than IT. Completely concentrating on business value without thinking too much about IT actually leads the whole team’s attention to business value. If a project that involves quite a few business units, ideally there should be someone either in business or IT who knows the business very well and have strong coordination and facilitation ability to take this role. Sometimes, this role was pushed to software service providers, it makes the job even more harder because it is extremely difficult for someone who is not in your corporation to coordinate business units to work properly.
The biggest problem is that because this job is so challenging and not well rewarded in the industry, no one really wants to do it or not so many people have the skills and experience to do it. So, does it mean there is no way out to solve this critical problem? The answer is “NO”. There are
- Corporate management need understand the challenging of this job and give appropriated reward and support.
- Business owners need to understand that if you want that your investment is well spent, if you want IT to develop what you actually need, you DO need spend enough time with product owner and software service provider to help them understand your business needs, requirement and problems.
- Take the ownership, find or recruite someone within your organization to be the chef of your IT investment.
- Product owner deserves very much respect and appreciation from corporate management and business units because this person is the most important ring of the whole business-IT chain.
After you have done these, there should be more people who want to be product owners who can manage your IT investment much better so that you would get the most return of IT investment.