Back in 2001, 17 software developers met at a ski resort with the intention to improve their current processes and ways of working together when creating new software. It was there that the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born.
The seemingly simple manifesto set out ways of developing software by doing and helping others do.
The key values of the manifesto were:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
The idea is that though there is value in the items on the right, there is more value in the items on the left.
Today, Manifesto and its twelve principles are used by companies around the world and have become the industry standard.
AGILE DEVELOPMENT AT INFOBIP
Growing from a startup to a global company of over 1,500 employees, Infobip decided to implement SCRUM – the most popular of all agile methodologies.
The initial adoption of SCRUM rituals and routines vastly improved the in-house development processes; teams held ownership of products and they delivered fast and often.
Under SCRUM, the person in charge of gathering product requirements, prioritizing backlog, and communicating with stakeholders would be classified as the Product Owner. At Infobip, product owner duties on SCRUM teams are fulfilled by our Product Managers. The product manager role is complex and cross-functional as they are responsible for the business strategy behind a product and subsequently for its success.
Nonetheless, SCRUM and the responsibilities of a product owner still play a big part in the product manager’s day-to-day tasks; it is the process used for moving a product or new feature from the idea and conception phase to the launch phase.
6 PRODUCT OWNER RESPONSIBILITIES AT INFOBIP
To help you understand the important role they play in our processes and company growth, we’ve outlined the top six product owner responsibilities that product managers at Infobip handle below.
1. Uphold the Company's Vision
A product owner needs to have a clear understanding of the purpose for building their product – who is it for, what problems will it solve, and so on. They must also be able to convey this vision with passion and precision to anyone who shows interest – regardless of their knowledge and understanding of the industry or technology.
2. Set and Keep Track of Key Objectives and Results
One of the biggest challenges for any large company is to coordinate all its efforts towards the same goals. To tackle this problem, Infobip uses John Doerr's Objectives and Key Results framework. This helps us communicate strategy and priorities while ensuring companywide alignment.
In practice, this means that each team defines its own ambitious and measurable key goals and results that support higher-level key results. These tie directly to the company's objectives and strategy.
3. Create and Uphold Product Roadmaps
In addition to key objectives and results, product owner responsibilities also include creating and upholding product roadmaps. These roadmaps are living documents that evolve and change - they outline how the product should evolve across various versions. For each forecasted version, the product roadmap states the projected launch date, the target audience and their needs, and the top features involved.
4. Use Job Stories to Communicate Product Details
In SCRUM, Stakeholders' needs, wants, and ideas are expressed in the form of user stories. User stories are short, simple descriptions of a feature told from the perspective of the person interested in the product – usually a user or customer.
Although we use these stories at Infobip to empathize with our customers, create value propositions, and successfully communicate with customers, we also use job stories.
We believe in the ingenuity of our engineers, so our product owners use job stories to help communicate:
- The problem their product is set out to solve
- Situations in which this problem occurs, and
- What motivates the target audience to use the product
This leaves space for our development teams to be creative in approaches and technical solutions.
5. Manage Backlog
Continuing to follow the SCRUM methodology, product owners are responsible for queuing the job story in the product backlog and validating them while focusing on achieving key results and company objectives.
This step is usually highly collaborative as teams look at each item and decide which of many approaches should be taken. Product owners work alongside the development team leads to answer the following questions stated by Marty Cagan:
- Will customers buy it?
- Would they know how to use it?
- Do we know how to build it? How?
- Does it work for our business?
Validated backlog items are prioritized based on their value and effort estimates. There are different types of value to consider:
- value in gaining knowledge and reducing uncertainty
- value in decreasing risks due to technical debt or bugs, and
- the actual value for the customer
How much time teams invest in each of these areas of the roadmap is highly dependent on the stage of the product lifecycle. When a new product is being introduced to the market, most of the efforts are made in the discovery and learning phases for growing or mature products, the emphasis is on delivering new value to the client.
It’s important to have an architecture that can scale and facilitate the evolution of the product. Therefore, teams are encouraged to spend as much as 20% of the time – sometimes up to 50%, if deemed necessary - in each sprint focusing on technical improvements.
6. Be Involved in the Development Process
As a product owner, we must take part in each step of the development process to provide support between stakeholders and development teams. Below we've outlined what the product owner responsibilities are during each phase.
PRODUCT MANAGERS AND INFOBIP’S SYSTEM
Infobip has a development practice of delivering continuously and releasing often. This means that a series of small, incremental changes are applied daily to our relatively complex system. Then, as soon as these changes create value for our customers, a new version of the software is released. This is why keeping up with SCRUM responsibilities is crucial to the success of our product managers, development teams, and company.
Learn more about the importance of product management in the customer era and subscribe to our blog for more dive-ins into specific areas of Product Management.
Aida Jugo Krstulović