Product Owner



Stage 1

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The Product Owner is accountable for maximising the value of the product resulting from the work of the Scrum Team. How this is done may vary widely across organisations, Scrum Teams, and individuals.


The Product Owner is also accountable for effective Product Backlog management, which includes:

  • Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal.
  • Creating and clearly communicating Product Backlog items.
  • Ordering Product Backlog items.
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible and understood.

The Product Owner may do the above work or may delegate the work to others. to do. Regardless, the Product Owner remains accountable.

For Product Owners to succeed, the entire organisation must respect their decisions. These decisions are visible in the content and ordering of the Product Backlog, and through the inspectable Increment at the Sprint Review.


Myths about the role

The Product Owner isn’t:

  • An agile business analyst. Business analysts typically elicit requirements and acceptance criteria from stakeholders and document them. While a Product Owner is accountable for managing the scope, they typically don’t write those items themselves.
  • The team manager. A team manager typically hands out work to individuals and assesses progress to ensure it gets done. A Product Owner gets work done through prioritising work through the items in the Product Backlog. 
  • A delivery manager. The Product Owner it ultimately responsible for the product and its delivery, but this doesn’t make them a traditional delivery manager. The Product Owner is still bound by the operating rules of Scrum.


Managing Delivery through Product Backlog

Release Planning, producing roadmaps, understanding milestones and deadlines are part of the Product Owner’s day-to-day work. 

While the team are busy with delivery, the Product Owner is:

  • Engaging with stakeholders.
  • Catching up with people who couldn’t attend the Sprint Review.
  • Examining product- and value-based metrics to understand the use of the team’s output.
  • Adding items to the Product Backlog for future Sprints.

Manage the budget

The team is expected to be long-lived. This also means the team has a fixed operational cost per Sprint. With this cost, the Product Owner must determine how best to spend their money and what is of value to deliver Sprint to Sprint.

Myths about the role

The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. The Product Owner may represent the needs of many stakeholders in the Product Backlog. One person in the role results in clarity regarding priorities, the direction of the product, and what is of value to deliver Sprint to Sprint. When more than one person attempt to fulfil the role, delays in decision-making results, and confuses the team regarding what the priorities are.

Those wanting to change the Product Backlog can do so by engaging the Product Owner and helping the Product Owner understand the value and relative priority of what they need. 

Product Owners aren’t expected to:

  • Write all of the Product Backlog items. They are not the team’s “business analyst”.

Product Owners don’t necesarily come from the “business”:

  • In many product environments, business stakeholders have a customer role instead of being part of Scrum teams.
  • It takes a while for many organisations to move from a project management relationship with business to one where there is a shared, product management focus.


Download the Product Owner Checklist (PDF) to print and use in your team design.


1. Aaron, J. R., McDowell, W.C., and Herdman, A. O. (2014) The Effects of a Team Charter on Student Team Behaviors. The Journal of Education for Business 89(2):90-97

2. Dowling, K. (2003). Chartering your team for peak performance. In M. M.Beyerlein, C. McGee, D. Klein, J. E. Nemiro, & L. Broedling (Eds.), The collaborative work systems fieldbook (pp. 77–87). San Francisco, CA:Wiley

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