One of the least discussed and most challenging roles in the Scrum Agile Methodology is that of Product Owner. Quite often Product Owners are selected from the ranks of Product Managers or Business Analysts and simply "thrown" into the role. While these backgrounds can lead to successful product ownership, often there are fundamental understanding and large skills gaps that need to be crossed in order to be truly successful. This book takes a unique look at the role of Scrum Product Owner with a focus on how the role needs to interact with their Scrum team first—thus the "inside out." We review all of the nuance and requisite habits that allow the Scrum Product Owner to drive their teams towards creating high quality products that provide great customer value.
Review By: Steve Blash 11/16/2011Robert Galen has written a very good book on agile in Scrum Product Ownership: Balancing Value from the Inside Out. One of the least discussed and most challenging roles in the agile methodology is that of the product owner. This role is usually filled from the ranks of product managers or business analysts, often without any training or preparation. This substitution can lead to confusion, since the business analyst very often is not the most knowledgeable about the business and is not the decision maker.
Robert Galen takes a comprehensive look at this very important role, identifying what is expected while upholding agile principles. The role of the product owner should be played by the single person who is the decision maker and drives the agile team. If you have many drivers or many owners, then the team may be driven in different directions.
I really enjoyed reading this book and comparing it to my experiences. It is packed with very useful information, especially in the appendix. Of particular interest to me were the final chapters on applying the "Scrum of Scrum" concept to large, complex projects from a product-owner viewpoint.
I recommend this book to everyone who is looking for an overview of the Scrum framework from a product owner's perspective. If you are working on a Scrum effort where the product owner is relatively inexperienced or does not know exactly what the expectations of a product owner are, then I strongly urge you to purchase a copy of this book and give it to him or her. You may also want to a buy this book for the whole team so they have a better understanding of the product owner’s role.
Review By: Melissa M. Tondi 11/16/2011The author dives into a role that is often misunderstood and not well-defined on many teams, that is, the role of the product owner. Coming from a quality assurance background, the product owner role I’ve seen has taken on new meanings for just about each project on which I’ve worked. I was eager to learn more about what is the product owner’s primary role and how that role can be leveraged in the most valuable way possible.
If you are new to Agile or your organization is considering adopting Agile, then this book is a great reference. Galen challenges you to question the widely-accepted premise that there is “only one product owner.” Yes, there needs to be a decision maker whom the team can look to for prioritization and acceptance, but the thought Galen presents is that team collaboration and decision-making are encouraged more than strict adherence to role definitions. If your organization has already implemented Agile, I would encourage you to read this book and take note from an expert on how to best utilize the product owner in your company. You may be surprised by his advice. I know I was!
Galen certainly stresses the importance of team relationship—one role is not more important than the others. However, the chapter on how the product owner influences quality was a refreshing take on how the test team can be leveraged early to develop acceptance tests and criteria for the product backlog. Many times, even with agile teams, we get used to waiting to see what development codes before testing it. A product owner who understands that the entire team owns quality will highlight and emphasize the testers’ roles thus allowing quality to be built into the product.
It’s clear that Galen writes from his varied experiences with different teams. The book is a quick read and packs a lot of information into its two hundred pages. As Agile becomes a more widely adapted methodology in our industry, books that analyze and clarify roles will serve as guides that many team members can refer to throughout a project’s lifecycle, such as this book.