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Scrum – What are some of the important attributes of a successful Product Owner (contd..)

In the previous post on this topic (attributes of a successful Product Owner), I tried to list some down some of the properties that a successful Scrum Product Owner should have. In this post, I will continue on this line and try to put down some more properties that a Scrum Product Owner should have.
– Since there are 2 types of Backlogs that are in operation during the project, the Product Owner has to understand his / her responsibilities vis-a-vis these 2 backlogs. So, the Product Owner owns and manages the Product Backlog by getting inputs from all the stakeholders, from external industry sources, from end customers, and then prioritize the items in the backlog. However, during the Sprint, it is the Sprint Backlog that counts, which is based on higher items from the Product Backlog. Now, the Sprint Backlog is owned by the Scrum Team and the Product Owner. It is upto the Product Owner to keep the Product Backlog updated while ensuring that the team is focused on the items in the Sprint Backlog.
– The Product Owner has to ensure that the team is shielded to some extent from all the stuff that keeps on happening outside the team. This is even more important when the external stakeholders are not used to the Scrum methodology (as an example, when a senior manager hears that Scrum makes it more easier to change, one of the first reactions that I have seen is that they feel that as soon as something changes in the external environment, they can come in and get the Scrum team to immediately start focusing on that). This shielding is something that the Product Owner does along with the ScrumMaster.
– It is extremely important that the Product Owner understand the customer needs, has spent a fair amount of time working through the requirements, and has all their doubts cleared (I once had a cocky Product Owner who though that he understood everything – big mistake, and in the next letting go, he was let go). Typically, if the Scrum team figures out that their Product Owner is making it up as he moves along, they lose confidence in the Product Owner and will subject the person to a far greater degree of questioning (after all, any rework or change in requirements reflects in the charts, and can lead to inconvenient questions). Having a clear understanding also allows the Product Owner to make the necessary adjustments in priority, and also stand their ground against well-meaning but strong willed external stakeholders who think that they know what needs to be done.

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