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There is often a mistaken notion in Product Management organizations that the Product Owner is in place as a buffer between the developers and the users. This could not be more wrong. The real function of the Product Owner, is to facilitate the communication between the developers and the users, ensuring that the developers are getting exposure to the users and that maximum value is being derived from the communication. Marty Cagan, Founder of the Silicon Valley Product Group and author of Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love, is famous for saying,

“If you just use your engineers…

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Product Management is a bold and risky profession. Some might compare it to gambling, but I think it is more aptly compared to making investments in a stock portfolio. With each idea that you bring to life through development effort, you are investing time and resources into something that is not a sure bet. Just like with stocks, investments in your ideas don’t always pan out. There is a great deal of uncertainty that goes along with any new feature you release in your product. …

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If you are a fan of the Disney Plus series The Mandalorian, you are likely familiar with the somewhat strange religion which the main character, “Mando” or “Din Djarin” (portrayed by Pedro Pascal), holds sacred. It seems to be full of guiding principals, practices, and rules which always pop up in the show followed by Mando reciting the phrase, “This is the way”, then a chorus of all the other Mandalorians present repeating the same.

This struck me as all to familiar, not because I make it a habit of Bounty Hunting across the galaxy with a band of helmet…

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Business Strategy, when done correctly, provides a framework for decision making throughout an organization. It informs decisions from the C-suite down to the front-line worker. For the Product Team, this means that it is a fundamental part of their work. They are tasked with discovering what will truly deliver value to their users. Properly applied, the Business Strategy provides a framework for this discovery.

I recently published an article, The Miracle of the Product Requirements Hierarchy. In it, I outline in great detail the Product Requirements Hierarchy.

The Hierarchy, in all its simple glory

  • Business Requirements
  • User Requirements
  • Solution Requirements (Functional & Nonfunctional)
  • Transition Requirements

The order…

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The just-in-time Product Owner doesn’t have to worry. Their work is never outdated. They are never endlessly piling requirements into the backlog while their product and their customer’s needs change around them. They deliver just enough, just in time. They are the masters of Now.

The Problem

Product requirements age. This is at the foundation of the Agile methodology. Customers change their minds, or the industry advances in some new way, and requirements which were tediously gathered 3 months ago become irrelevant. If you have ever rearranged your office, worked in it for a few weeks and realized that you wanted it…

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The ability to show people exactly what you mean is an invaluable tool, not just for Product Owners and Product Managers but for anyone. Communication, verbal or written, is an exercise in faith that the other party has enough shared experiences with you that the way you choose to describe something will sync up with how they might describe it. This becomes a problem particularly for Product Owners and Product Managers because a large swath of their job is comprised of communicating intangible, soon to be tangible, things to people who have never seen them before. …

Image by Elijah Calhoon

Product Requirements are a diverse collection of needs from a variety of sources both internal and external to an organization. They span from overarching strategies and goals to click-paths, font sizes, and color. Product Owners are responsible for managing these requirements through their lifecycle, collecting them from Users and Business Stakeholders, maintaining them through solution changes, prioritizing them, and tracing them to goals and strategies of the business. Understanding the Product Requirements Hierarchy allows Product Owners to easily fulfill these key tasks and communicate requirements effectively to various groups.

The miracle is how simple this can be. Product Requirements can…

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Product driven organizations should always have a route for users to submit requests for specific improvements to the product. These requests are the source of key insights into the problems which the user community faces. Though no individual request should be taken as a representation of the community’s sentiment, careful analysis of the underlying patterns across all requests can yield deep insights into what the community values. …

Elijah Calhoon

Elijah Calhoon is a Product Owner at Intelisys, a ScanSource company.

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