In this episode, Bob Galen help us to better understand the role of the Product Owner and how Business Analysts can best support the PO and the team.

After listening to this episode, you'll understand:

  • The role and responsibilities of a Product Owner
  • The four quadrants that make up the Product Owner role
  • How a business analyst can best work with and support the Product Owner

Show Notes

The Product Owner role

There’s a person referred to as a Product Owner on Scrum teams, but in Bob’s view, it’s not a stand-alone role; they need help.  It’s extremely difficult to find someone who is outstanding in each of the four quadrants.  They will need complimentary help to supplement those areas where they have weaknesses.


If a Product Owner (PO) has strong product management skills, they may be weak in Business Analysis.  A Business Analyst can partner with the Product Owner by breaking down features and capabilities into smaller chunks that the team can deliver in small iterations, creating meaningful user stories or use cases, and helping the PO understand impacts and dependencies.


In some organizations, instead of having a Business Analyst on the team, there’s a pool of Business Analysts coupled with the product organization from which the Product Owner can pull for support.


Sometimes, organizations convert Business Analysts to Product Owners.  In those cases, the Product Owner has strong Business Analysis skills, but lack strength in product management or another area.



The Four Quadrants

Four quadrants of a product owner

The Product Owner role is an aggregate role and the Business Analyst can partner with the Product Owner to complement the role with their skills.

Leadership: This quadrant includes having the ability to create an inspiring vision, leading by example, defending the team, and being viewed as a leader in your organization.  A person weak in this quadrant might augment their ability to create an inspiring vision by inviting other leaders in to create and communicate that vision and the ‘why’ behind it.


Business Analysis: This quadrant includes story writing and defining acceptance criteria.  It may also include approaches such as modelling and behavior driven development (BDD).  A Product Owner with weak Business Analysis skills may partner with a Business Analyst or Quality Engineer to support this area.  One of the challenges for a traditional (waterfall) Business Analyst moving to agile is in the shift to creating lightweight requirements with the team.


Project Management: This quadrant includes understanding the backlog and linkages between backlog items, and addressing risk.  It also involves the ability to forecast delivery or functionality based on the backlog and team’s ability to deliver.  The Business Analyst can also supplement the Product Owner in this area as could a Project Manager or someone with similar skills.


Product Management: This quadrant includes roadmaps and working with customers and stakeholders.  Often this is outwardly focused.



Product Owner: “BA, you complete me”

Business Analysts and testers have the ability to connect the dots.  They understand the lifecycle from concept (ideation) to cash (delivery to end user).  Having this end-to-end view and sharing it with Product Owners will help ensure the delivery of value to customers.


Sometimes, teams focus too much at the story level without seeing the big picture.  Try to rise above the story and understand the goal.  Make the demo yours.  Focus not on the stories, but the story behind the stories and make sure the team sees the big picture.


As a Business Analyst, you need to bring curiosity and openness to the team.  Ask why and don’t be afraid to suggest that the team shouldn’t do something.

Listen to the full episode to hear  all of Bob’s tips.


Your Homework

We’ve lost the essence of the User Story; the story.  Start talking more and writing less.  Richer conversations around the narrative of the story and ‘why’ behind each story will create a better understanding between the Product Owner and the team.  The Business Analyst should be a storyteller can convey the goal and intention behind each User Story so that the development team can create the best solution.


Links mentioned in this episode:


Bob Galen

Bob Galen

President and Principal Consultant of RGCG, L.L.C.

Bob Galen is the President of RGCG, L.L.C., an agile methods coaching & training consultancy. He is a deeply experienced agile coach who is active in the agile community and regularly writes & teaches on all topics related to the agile methods. Bob wrote the book Scrum Product Ownership, which is focused on that role and driving value in team delivery. He is a frequent contributor to BA Times and often speaks at industry conferences.

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