IT outsourcing: Java, С#/С++, .NET, Python, JavaScript, React, Go

Seldemirov Aleksandr / 06.05.2020

Episode #6. Who is a Product Owner and why is he needed in an IT project?

Today we will take a closer look at the Product Owner role.

In the previous article, we talked that the Customer role and the Product Owner role can be combined in one person, then our viewers had a question what is the fundamental difference between these two roles.

Let’s discuss it using our project “Bill of Materials” as an example.

The Customer

For us the Customer is the one in his company who answers the question:
 Who is the Client of my company and what does he need? The Customer creates the product vision.
The next step in the project is developing an understanding of how this product/service will work.
It is at this stage the Product Owner comes in.

The Product Owner

  • He answers the question “How will we solve the client’s problem?”
  • Draws a customer journey map
  • Defines the production and operating models.
  • Determines which processes will be automated and which work will be done manually.

Based on this information, determines a task for the product development team.

BILL OF MATERIALS sample project

The Customer defined the result of the work as follows “making the bill of materials now takes 3-4 weeks, but we need to make it in “one click.”

The Product Owner brings the solution in a practical dimension by creating a platform where all three parties (cost engineers, manufacturers, and vendors/dealers) put in their information. Then cost estimation process can be automated within a single system.

So, we can see that the Product Owner has the most complete idea of the product being developed at the very beginning of the project:

There are 2 types of products:

1.  Products designed to meet the needs of customers, and ultimately to make a profit.
2.  Products aimed at cost optimization and operational efficiency.

The Product Owner focuses on either external or internal customers when designing a product.

And whose needs did the PO focus on in the project Bill of Materials?

Before answering this question, it is worth saying that this project can be called revolutionary, because it involves creating a completely new business model for interaction between customers and vendors, in addition, we are working with large data sets, where we are using AI to speed up and avoid errors.

A few words about the project:

1. Target customer of the product are design companies in the construction field, manufacturers and vendors of constructional materials and engineering systems.
2. Now for developers  it takes from 2 to 4 week to make a bill of materials.
3. Since the cost engineer is involved in calculations, this leads to serious time-consuming.
4. As a result of our project we have a product that allows you to get a ready-made bill of materials within 2 hours.
5. We have created an online platform where cost engineers upload CAD projects, manufacturers upload their catalogs, and vendors enter nomenclature and commercial information, they are all customers of this service
6. The Product Owner must look to the future, understand in detail what and how all customers of this platform will do.

At this stage, we have understood the features of the product and the role of the PO in the specific project

And now wewill talk about how the PO interacts with other roles in the project?

In the very beginning of the project, the Product Owner works closely with the Business Analyst, Project Manager, Architect, and Tech Lead.

At the start the Product Owner:

  • Describes in detail the product and its purpose, tells whose and what problem it solves, and how quickly this problem should be solved.
  • Defines the roles in the product manufacturing process and their rights.
  • Indicates the product success criteria.
  • Prioritizes functionality.
  • Defines the boundaries of the version we are working on.

The provided information will allow to:

  • The architect to develop the project architecture, determine the technology stack, and together with DevOps decide on the required capacity.
  • The Business Analyst to develop business processes and create documentation that is clear to the developer.
  • The Project Manager to create, together with the Team Lead, a top-level development plan with designated milestones.

For the successful completion of the project the Customer’s Product Owner active involvement is vital. His availability and participation will ensure a clear understanding of the goal and productive work of the entire team.

What competencies allow the Product Owner to perform his work efficiently and create the most valuable contribution to the project implementation?

  • As a summary we can say that the subject area/industry of the product must be native to the Product Owner, and he is interested in the product that works.
  • Determination to have things done.
  • Teamwork.

In conclusion of this article, I would like to note that in all our projects, we ask our customers to provide the most important and key role in the project — the role of the Product Owner.

  • The more the Project Owner understands all the specifics of the product or service, 
  • The more clearly he can formulate the requirements and provide feedback,
  • The more he is personally involved in the project,

 the faster and better the project will move towards the goal.

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