Traditionally rooted in software development, but adopted by other branches in recent years, the Agile way of working has become indispensable to many companies. So what exactly is an Agile environment?
In short, it is a setting in which a team collaborates on a common goal in an open and transparent manner, while all team members have their own specific tasks. Not only does Agile require a certain mindset, it also needs a linchpin that holds everything together: the product owner.
Meet the product owner
Think of the product owner as the glue that binds everything together. He promotes the interests of clients and team members alike, focusing on the added value of the product to be delivered. Therefore, his ability to provide the right degree of transparency is key. Needless to say that the product owner is a communicator par excellence. Based on the information acquired, he maps the client's needs to subsequently connect these to the team's schedule. Ideally, the result of his efforts is that everyone is satisfied.
Product owners often find themselves balancing the interests of everyone involved. Whereas most clients favor a the-sooner-the-better philosophy, the product owner needs to take team issues, like time management and quality, into account as well. Prioritizing is a major part of his job.
Considering the fact that the product owner has such a managing role, it can be very useful to distinguish between an internal and an external product owner, like RaDeSys does. The first deals with overarching team priorities relevant to the entire company, while the second is responsible for one client only. Such a distinction can take away many of the challenges that product owners are faced with and increase efficiency as well as transparency.
A day in the life of a product owner
The central question in an Agile environment is: Is everyone clearly informed of what we are going to do? Basically, the product owner is constantly making sure that the answer is "yes". He talks to stakeholders, clients and the internal development team to create transparency. A born multitasker, the product owner manages the backlog while asking the right questions to the right people, ensuring that conflicts are avoided. He is a connector. A communicator. A tech-savvy linchpin with an ability to empathize. He is the driving force behind a well-functioning Agile environment.