The success of specialist IT products often depends on the quality of communication between the client and the programmers, which we wrote about yesterday. While you’ll always find a leader in the client’s team, often such a person is missing on the other side. In this piece, we answer the most frequently questions about who the Product Owner (PO) is and what they do, and why you must have them when working on an IT project with an external company.
The majority of software houses (such as AppVerk) work in the agile methodology which means that they apply the incremental approach while working on a project. In practice, it means that the developer team needs continuous authorization of the next work steps from the client. That’s why it’s important to have an independent and decisive person from the client’s side, who will have their trust and be engaged in the project every day from time to time. Otherwise, you will experience delays in work which will delay the whole project and affect the end result of your cooperation. It is equally important that the PO gain trust from the developer team, which is possible if they stand out with their decisiveness and knowledge of the areas and processes which the created product is supposed to influence.
The PO’s main task is to monitor the development of the product according to the agreed plan and budget. The PO also measures the product’s value based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and informs the developer team if they are going in the right direction. By combining the knowledge of the management and product experts in the client’s company, the PO is the decision-making person for the developer team both in the project priorities and managing the budget. The other important PO’s task is to manage the Backlog, so the list of requirements of the product’s system and functionalities. They’re also required to actively participate in project meetings with the team.
It’s worth pointing out again that the PO is not a regular employee who has a supervisor/boss who they have to ask about their opinion before they make a decision. The PO’s characteristic is their independence and decision making supported with their competencies, as they have to gather the company’s knowledge in the product area, know the broader context of how it functions and understand its business goals. It’s also important for them to be communicative and be able to pass their vision to the external team and understand the basic things in digital projects.
There are numerous advantages, but the biggest one is the guarantee that the project in progress serves the company’s business goals. Even the best external company won’t know their client’s plans as well as they and their employees do. The client will also find it easier to supervise the project’s progress by having one engaged person responsible for a given project. The presence of a PO will surely also make the communication with the external team smoother and make it easier to make decisions thanks to a clear and coherent vision of the product.