The Business Analyst and the Product Owner

PMI Southern Alberta Chapter

Mike Griffiths is a consultant and trainer who help organizations improve performance through shared leadership, agility and (un)common sense. He maintains the blog LeadingAnswers.com.

In my last article, we talked about the role of the BA on agile projects, reviewing what stays the same and what changes from traditional approaches. In this article, we will review the contentious topic of how the role of the BA varies and overlaps with the product owner (PO). We cover the similarities and differences, including danger signs such as “BA as PO go-between” and positive patterns such as “BA as PO supporter.”

The Product Owner (PO)
First, let’s make sure we understand the role of the product owner (PO). It originated in Scrum but is often also used beyond Scrum in other agile approaches and hybrid approaches. The Scrum definition of the role is the person responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the development team. This includes being responsible for managing the product backlog. Extreme programming (XP) has a similar “customer” role, and DSDM has one or more “business ambassadors” depending on the scale of the project. They all play a similar role in stewardship of the backlog, including:

  • Ensuring that the product backlog is visible, transparent and clear to all, showing what the team will work on next
  • Ensuring the team understands items in the product backlog to the level needed
  • Clearly expressing the product backlog items
  • Ordering the items in the product backlog …

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"The power of accurate observation is often called cynicism by those who don't have it."

- George Bernard Shaw

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