Lessons from Scrum for Opportunity Champions

In a previous article we compared and contrasted the role & responsibility for a scrum master vs. project manager/core team leader (CTL/PM).

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the scrum product owner role and compare it with the product development team’s “opportunity champion”.

So what is the scrum product owner and the corresponding agile/scrum process?  The product owner defines and prioritizes the features of the product and is responsible for the value (ROI) of the work effort.

In agile/scrum, prioritized list of the features (with relative value/estimation) is maintained in the product backlog.  The product owner decides what is most important to the customer and a sprint is planned to implement the features accordingly.  Upon completion of the sprint, the product owner collects feedback at a sprint review.  The sprint review is both a retrospective and preemptive view of the program.  There are several objectives of the sprint review, however, two key questions to be answered are…was the value of the sprint realized?  What will we do next to further enhance value of the product?

Now let us look at the opportunity champion role for a product development team.  The opportunity champion completes Gate 0 (Opportunity Identification), compiles the Market Analysis document and  leads the cross-functional (opportunity) team through the “Define” phase, and “Gate 1” (Definition Approval).  The opportunity champion also remains a member of the cross-functional product development team throughout the PLC process and is responsible for the products’ market positioning, sales forecasting, pricing and profit & loss.  Also, an opportunity champion would participate in the project retrospective (Gate 6).  Here, the same questions still apply…was the value of the work-effort realized?

The comparison between the product owner and opportunity champion are therefore readily apparent.  The focus on value is of paramount importance, and relentless throughout.

Ensuring a mutual understanding of value, quantifying, and realizing value are the primary goals of any product or service development effort.  Whether you’re using agile/scrum or a waterfall project management process, ensuring focus on value through integrated product management can help ensure a successful product and a high quality project.