One of the most important things a CIO can do to ensure the success of an Agile project is to understand the necessity of having the right person in the product owner role and freeing them up to provide the required support for the project.
At the core of the product owner role, the person in this position should:
- Be available to the project as much as possible
- Have the authority and decisiveness to make business decisions
- Be a campaigner for the project.
To ensure the product owner can effectively manage these three key elements of the role, CIOs need to:
Choose the right person for the role. The product owner needs to be a subject matter expert related to the project. They must have knowledge of the business unit, knowledge of the project and its goals, and knowledge of the wider business and how the project will affect the business.
Get the executive team on board. Gain buy in from senior management to sponsor the product owner role and allow them to allocate the required level of time dedicated to the project.
Allocate and champion authority. As discussed earlier, it is important for the product owner to have a level of authority that allows them to make decisions on a daily basis affecting the direction and outcome of the project and resolve any issues as they arise.
As the primary campaigner for the project internally, it is important that product owners are championed by CIOs so that communication is frequent and effective, in both directions.
Recommend a 50/50 split. We find that a 50 per cent split works best. The product owner needs enough time to dedicate to the project but it is also important for them to continue with their regular role so they remain connected to the business unit in which they work.
Sponsor a location change. Project teams work best when they work together. For this reason, we recommend the product owner sits with the project team or IT team involved. Similarly to the split in hours, however, it is important for the product owner to also have a desk within their own department or business unit so that they can remain connected to the business while performing their regular role.
An Agile delivery approach has helped many organisations focus on the most important aspects of their information management and BI programs. The key to any Agile project is delivering business value incrementally, and the product owner is vital to this.
Getting the product owner right can not only help CIOs avoid roadblocks and hurdles throughout the project's lifespan, but ensure the success of the entire project.
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