What’s the Role of a Product Owner on a Software Development Project?

(upbeat music) – What’s good everybody? It’s Derek Laliberte, the
director of Brand Engagement, and I got Jessica Roberts aka JRob, is that what they call you here? – That’s what they call me here. – Yeah, what a pleasure
to have you on the show. – Thanks. – And we’re talking about, I mean you came to me and said, “Let’s do a video on
product ownership” right? – Absolutely. – Yeah, it was totally her idea. – Yeah. – And I said awesome! I’m a product owner and
you’re a product owner, we’re all product owners, right? Like right now I’m really
trying to be an ambassador for the Spindrift. I’m a drifter, you a drifter? – Sometimes. – Yeah LaCroix, (hiss of can opening) deal with it. Hold on, You got the right one baby, uh huh. I don’t even care if that’s in the frame. I brought my Jays. This has nothing to do with what we do, but I don’t even care. These are my as you told
me earlier, “grails”. – All right. – Yeah, she taught me what that means. Grail means your holy grail, it’s your best pair. I’m a product owner, but you brought yours.
– I did. – So let’s see them. – I am also a product owner of my Jays. – Wow.
– These are one of my grails. – One of the grails.
– Yeah. – Oh excuse me, I’m not on that level yet. (Jessica laughing) And I wear my Jays. – I don’t wear my Jays. – You just keep them in a box. – I do. – You know what, I love it. I can appreciate that. I can appreciate that. So, you know leading the
brand engagement team a few years ago it was
all about like for us, wouldn’t it be cool if Aptera was involved in like selling or building a product configurator like you would see on Nike, you go on there and customize your shoes. How cool would it be if
we were able to do that and I thought that would
be a good segue into product ownership because that product configurator,
whoever built that for Nike. Good job, I love it, I play with the shoes all the time and I never buy any,
(Jessica laughs) but if Aptera build it I probably would but what a good segue into
what it takes to actually build a product configurator. Forget the product configurator let’s talk about just the
team itself that has to build that because our clients come to us and they have this vision and
they need to deliver something impactful for their organization yet they lack the
resources or the skillset but they definitely understand the process so we talk about high
performing teams all the time with our clients and you as a senior project manager, you nod your head like yup,
yup get to it, get to it, I’m getting there, we’re
moving steady along, everything’s gonna be fine. We’ve implemented something that’s been… I went through the training and I thought how helpful would this
be for our clients that maybe don’t understand it or kind of understand it and that’s this product
ownership sort of training. I don’t necessarily want
to talk about the training but I want to talk about
product ownership in general so, talk to us about what exactly it is and why it’s so important
to success on a project or within a high performing team. – Yeah ,absolutely. So we’ll, a lot a times you’ll hear us talk about the product owner being the champion of the
team and so trying to dig in, what does that mean? So for us, the product owner, a way that we like to phrase around here is the ship captain. So I’ll break into that,
what does that mean? – Ship captain. What does that mean? – We’ll see. So, what we’re trying to
do is set out on a journey and at Aptera we’re gonna give you a lot of the pieces to that team so we have high performing teams in that we have developers and the technical team
really bring that part of it so we’ll call them the people
who are doing the rowing in the boat. – Row the boat. – Row the boat. – Love this analogy, everybody knows me knows how
much I love this analogy. Keep going, sorry. – We have scrum masters as
well as business analysts who are on that team also
helping to get us going in the right direction so kind of high performing
but what we lack and what we need from the product owner with just that part of the team is that captain and so that captain is saying,
“Here’s how we have to get to “where we’re going. “I know what the business needs, “I know what my users need “and I know what my product configurator “should do to solve the problem “and I need you guys to help
me figure out how to solve “that problem but I’m
gonna keep directing you “to the final course to make
sure we solve that problem.” – So, I understand correctly, the product owner is like
the captain of the ship. You have business analysts on the team, a project manager on the team, a QA on the team, a developer on the team, but it sounds like this project manager or sorry, project owner I say project manager
’cause I’m talking to one. Now they are or they not technical or do they have to be technical? – They don’t, so, that’s often a myth that comes up when you’re trying
to a choose product owner. It’s really more about
understanding the business, so you’re representing many people, you’re representing the stakeholders which are probably those
people working with you in the business that have
a vested stake in success and you’re representing
whoever’s gonna use your product, who we all want them
to want us to succeed, we want them to adopt and
do, and use our product. So you’re really representing those people and you’re telling their
story in a way we can build what they need. So, you don’t really need to be technical to tell that story. – I got to imagine that’s
a tough sell for a project manager to say “Hey, we think
that you need a project owner” and for let’s say the IT
person to, “Who wants me?” And we’re saying, “Maybe not”. – Maybe not. – Okay. – One thing that you see
that will give you a lot of success in product ownership is having an entrepreneurial spirit to
where you’re willing to go out there and sell your ideas, so you need to know first
off what’s that vision, like you talked about, what do we need to do and why do we need to do it but you might need to go out and sell the IT project manager
why this is so important. Maybe it’s we’re gonna get new users, and we’re gonna retain the ones we have but you’re the one telling that
story and IT project manager may not be the person that’s best suited to tell that story. – So it’s really the
person that has the vision and is really willing to see it through like, hey at all costs this
is the direction we’re going, otherwise you end up in a
different part of the world for the ship captain reference. – Yup, has the vision and understands the value
that is to be gained so that it can help stay
on that course of getting the value out of the work we’re doing. – So Christopher Columbus was
definitely a product owner is what you’re saying. – Probably. – That was the worst.
(Jessica laughing) I embarrassed her even
for just saying that. Richard, you got an edit button, no? We’re gonna keep going. I got some other questions slash, just things I want you to talk about, so we touched base on the
misconceptions of product owners like doesn’t have to be technical. Are there any other misconceptions
that we may have missed? – Yeah, I think a lot
of times here at Aptera, we run into I don’t have time for that so, if you know a lot about the business and you’re able to drive the
vision and sell the product you probably are a very, very busy person and so you often think I
can’t devote the time to that because I have a day job, you’re probably a very crucial
part of your organization so, that’s a huge myth that I
think we’ve found great ways, successful ways and patterns
to use to keep in mind you have a day job, let us support you, and the things that we
can bring to the table, that high performing team and then it’s very specific
the time that you need to devote rather than it
taking over your entire life to see this product through to success. – But the product owner’s
typically a client. It’s them, not us, is that… – Yeah so. In our world, yeah. So you’re typically you
know your business best so that’s why we would want
someone from our clients to take up that product owner role and again we probably know
there’s probably another job so we’re gonna help you
support you through that and do what we need to do
to help make you successful therefore making the team successful. – Right on. So, talk to me briefly about
some of these other roles. I mean, we touched on them but scrum master. Who’s the scrum master? Typically. – So, the scrum master, is
working with the whole team and they’re really the glue, I’ll say. – Okay. – They’re there to give
the team a giant hug but they’re bringing it all together so they’re there to help facilitate… – A gigantic hug. – Yeah, so coaching would be a better way so maybe when you’re
thinking about sports analogy with a coach you know, they’re not there just
for one person on a team, they’re there to help the whole team. – Okay. – Same with the scrum master, they’re there to help
see that through success, make sure that the way
that we’re going about it, the right conversations
are happening to make sure the team is collaborating and really turning it into
that high performing team that we’re looking for. – So you mentioned being a coach and that prompts another
question that I have like what are the very
specifics roles of each member of this team? So, like a product owner. What specifically, say they
have the vision, is there something very specific
that they are doing? – Absolutely. So, in the world of scrum, I’ll use those terms it’s very specific in that we’re gonna use a work list or product back log is what you’ll hear but it’s really just a list of
the work items we need to do to finish this product. – Somebody’s just burglarized a car. – Yeah, it’s fine. (laughs) – If you can hear that alarm, This is Fort Wayne, it’s a
safe place, come on down. (Jessica laughs) Sorry.
– It’s gone. It’s stolen, fine. So–
– He got away. (Jessica laughs) – That person that as far as… Got to circle back so, the back log itself, list of work items that
we know we want to do, well, that product owner
absolutely needs to help us prioritize those because they know what the vision is and what the most value is and we always want to spend
our time doing whatever is most valuable and the way that a product
owner can help us with that is very specific. Own the product back log
or the list of work items and help us prioritize them
to what’s most valuable for the company or the business, the user and always keep us on track, keep shifting the list
around to the most valuable. – So they’re prioritizing the back log. Are they adding new
things to the back log? – Yup, absolutely, so as a product owner again, you might be out understanding,
hey, our marketplace is changing and because of
that we need to do something different so you would
come back to the team and say, “I learned this
thing about the business, “we need to shift a little bit,
here’s something new for us “to think about, let’s prioritize it.” – And this idea of product
ownership’s not new. – No.
– It’s been around a while. – Yeah. – But for Aptera, I’m not saying it’s new for Aptera but a client, let’s say a client comes to Aptera, let’s say somebody watches this video, that was a plug, if you’re watching this video, call us. But maybe they’ve heard of this concept but they don’t know what to do. how does Aptera help, what’s the first thing we would do? We do this after we set up a new client? We tell them, “Hey, this
is what we’re gonna do” and then we do it like… Walk me through what
that looks like and then what that process is for
getting the team organized. – Yeah. So, we offer different
levels of onboarding and we think that that’s very important. Some of that is just easy enough
as setting the expectations with each other, what to expect from us and what the product owner, what we’re gonna expect from them – Those always help. – Those are helpful. And then from there you know, we do offer, call it training or a way to help guide you through if you’re new to this. If you’re new to the mechanics of it we can help guide you through that. And then also here at Aptera
most of our project teams that you’re gonna work with, they’re gonna have people
who obviously who have lived this life and been through
the pluses and the minuses and try to help you know what to expect. So you’re scrum master, you’re business analyst, we’re all certified scrum masters here, even the business analysts, so we’re gonna be able to
coach on an as needed basis and it’s just not a you got
to learn it all at once. We’re gonna work through
it together as a team. – And what’s the response been like? – Really good. So, I think obviously the
training aspect of setting expectations puts us on the
path to success right away without as much churning and gives people an idea to
know what we’re talking about, what some of the jargon that
you’ll hear in the industry. You’re not coming in and leveling the playing field a little bit. Also sometimes we found
that the right person isn’t the person they’d
thought it was gonna be to be the product owner.
– And yet people– – (talking over one another)
some of the most powerful. – So for the training
they go in and they think I’m the product owner, they
come out of the training going I’m not the product owner. – Right. Or I was going assign this
person to be the product owner but I’m not setting them up for success because they don’t have that vision. – Okay. – I’m the product owner
and now I got to do it. – Right on. So, I guess thanks so much for being here. You know, I know you know
you work 25 feet from me so it was really tough to coordinate but Jessica’s really busy and I really appreciate your time and if you’re watching this
video thinking product owner? Wait, I’m a product owner but somebody else is running a project or you know sort of
quarterback and a partnership, say it in my best Jim Halpert, maybe? I don’t know. Maybe you should just call us. Give us a jingle. We’ll wear our Jays to the meeting. I will, she probably won’t. Thanks so much. This is Engage Aptera. I need a drink. I’ll drink to that. Drifter. – Cheers.
– Thanks. Salude. (Jessica laughs) This is tasty. [Person in Background]
Do you really like that better than LaCroix? Are you kidding me
– Are you kidding me? – Okay, first of all, LaCroix
has like plastic in it. – Okay–

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