In The Art of Agile Product Ownership (Amazon), Allan Kelly helps product owners figure out how to answer the question: What is the best way for me to fill the Product Owner role?
The book starts with a discussion about the product owner role’s potential scope. This includes analysis such as a description of four things a product owner needs: ‘skills, authority, legitimacy, and time’, but retains a practical perspective. Similarly, the overview of the a product owner’s potential responsibilities frames the discussion about what really happens.
Books about the product ownership tend to focus on one aspect of the role, such as agile software development, and describe or recommend a specific approach. This book, however, acknowledges that product owner roles vary: the person in the role and the organisation they work in have to define the role for themselves. Indeed, later chapters return to the key product owner skillsets introduced in chapter 3:
- Business analysis
- Project management
- Subject matter expertise
- Business & marketing
- Entrepreneurial mindset
- Product management
- Agile software development
After reading about the scope of the product owner role in the first part of the book, I had questions about the roles feasibility. Fortunately, the author acknowledges the role’s impossibility:
Asking one person to take all this on is probably setting them up to fail.
The second part of the book addresses how a product owner can share their work with people in other roles. This approach makes this the practical explanation of product roles that so many of us need to be successful, rather than the usual theoretical discussions of development process or business. The third part then follows this with a deeper investigation of how product ownership relates to product management and business analyst roles.
Like Continuous Digital, this book presents its topic in the context of both business issues and software development, rather than only relating to one of the two. This comes across in statements such as:
Every Product Owner needs to consider where they lie on this spectrum from internal to external, from BA to Product Manager
Overall, this book has serious breadth, which makes it useful to anyone working in or even contemplating a product owner role.