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Product Owner of SAFe

Updated: Jan 12

As we have seen in SAFe, organizations are based on Roles and their responsibilities and not on hierarchy. In SAFe Product owner also has its importance and unique responsibilities. Many times people get confused about SAFe product owner as an agile product owner. But that is not the case, only their names are similar. As in Agile, a product owner is responsible for the complete product. Whereas in SAFe, the product owner role is divided into two, a product manager is responsible for strategies and the product owner deals with the product tactics.

There are 6 categories of product owners explained below

  1. Scrum product owner- also known as value maximize. Their role is to maximize value. They are responsible for the product entirely.

  2. Feature Owner- they manage the main feature of the product that customers interact with.

  3. Component owners- they are responsible for the single component software.

  4. Platform Owner- they manage the platform where collected software assets are.

  5. SAFe Product owner- owns the complete product details

  6. Portfolio owner- manages a bundle of products.

To understand the difference better let’s put a light on SAFe product owner details.

In SAFe products, the owner is considered as the proxy of the customer. They play the role of a customer for the agile team. Product owners understand the requirements and needs of the customer and stakeholders by communicating with them by various means. Then they convey the requirements to the team and ensure that product is built as per integrated value. To complete this task they have to carry out various responsibilities which are as below.

Responsibilities of Product Owner

Organizing and participating in PI planning

Product Owner (PO) is involved in program backlog refinement and preparation of PI (Program Increment) Planning. Before starting the event PO needs to update the backlog, review and modify the program vision and roadmaps.

During events, PO has to involve with story defining, assist in story estimation and sequencing for the team, and define the objectives for the upcoming PI.

Iteration Execution

  • Maintain Team backlog- they have to build, edit and maintain the team backlog. Once it's done they need to refine and add them into PI based on user value, time, and team dependencies.

  • Iterate planning- Co-ordination with other PO they need to review, rearrange and reprioritize backlog as part of iteration planning.

  • Story elaboration for implementation- Po maintains the proper flow of elaborating the user stories for implementation during, pre, or post iteration.

  • Using BDD- They must apply behavior-driven development (BDD). It is the test first criteria, attempting to describe the behavior of a story, feature, or capability from the customer’s perspective.

  • Accepting stories- PO needs to validate the acceptance criteria of the team story. During this PO also needs to assure the level of quality, and fitness for use.

  • Understand collaboration of work- Po needs to understand the scope of work and collaborate with other system and solution engineers for decision making and sequencing technology infrastructure for new business functionality.

  • Attend team demo and retrospective- Po needs to attend all team demos, retrospectives, and all other events wherever team process improvement matters.

Program Execution

By collaborating with other PO during every PI they execute the programs providing value-added solutions. They also help in producing system demo and value streams for stakeholders.

Inspect and Adapt

In an I&A workshop with team members, PO works to define improvement stories that help in increasing the speed and quality of the program. In the system, demo PO needs to participate in showing the most critical aspect of the solution.

Fan Out Model

The numbers of PO, Scrum Master, Product manager in an agile team must be well defined as the right number of people in the right roles may lead to success instead of causing any bottleneck limiting the speed of projects. This is taken care of with Fan-out Model in SAFe. It helps in balancing the right number of resources on a project.

With the role of product owner, well-functioned strategies will provide project growth to new heights.

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