Blog post

The Product Owner Role + Mindset

July 7, 2020

This article was originally drafted by Marc Baizman, Michelle Vose, Sam Adiv and Eric Bruenner at the March 2020 Virtual Sprint in the Nonprofit Admin Skills breakout group.

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Have you ever heard of the Product Owner role and wondered what exactly it refers to? What do they do? Are you one already?  

If you have these questions (or can’t answer them easily), read on as we explore what exactly a Product Owner is (and isn’t!), when they are necessary, and how they work within the broader context of Salesforce. If you are already a black-belt Product Owner, we’ll be unveiling a powerful framework that you can apply to your work today.

The chief responsibility of the Product Owner is to act as a liaison between the development team and the end product user to make sure the needs of both the business and the user are met. The role was originally defined within the Agile methodology’s ‘Scrum Guide’. In practical terms, the Product Owner presides over the product backlog, prioritizing communication and the sequence of execution. This is helpful as a foundational context, but leaves us with a key question: 

How does this translate to Salesforce system design and implementation, whether or not your team is employing Agile methodology?  

The primary question of a Salesforce Admin is the “how” of implementation. The primary question of a Product Owner or strategist is “why”. The Product Owner must continuously ask “why” a specific change or feature is being implemented within the larger context of the organization.

As a Salesforce-powered organization, your “product” is your customized implementation of Salesforce as a system to achieve larger business or organizational objectives. Treated as a product, your Salesforce implementation should:

  1. Have defined releases
  2. Have a lifecycle
  3. Have a defined audience
  4. Have clear use cases and user stories
  5. Have specific “features” within the product
  6. Serve multiple functions and business processes
  7. Serve the contextual needs of the industry you are in
  8. Address any known or discovered bugs or issues in the system
  9. Have a distinct owner

Clarifying what a Product Owner does may help you see whether you are one, or if perhaps you need to become one! Thinking like a Product Owner will help you prioritize and communicate as you bring the whole team along with you.

Check out Part Two, where we break down a powerful framework that you can use to think like a Product Owner. If you are ready to dive in and take your Product Owner practice to the next level, check out our new Accelerator Program today!

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