I previously blogged about my upcoming Product Owner course which I completed last week. The course was run by Agil8 and David Hicks in Central London. Having already used Agil8 for my Scrum Master certification I was familiar with David and his approach to training.

I’ve never performed the role of a Product Owner but with the relationship between Product Owner and Scrum Master being so vital I felt the course would be beneficial to gain a further grasp of the PO role. There was quite a lot of overlap between the CSM and CSPO course content so whilst a fair chunk of the course material wasn’t new to me, it’s always nice to re-affirm what you are doing and why you are doing it that way.

The main parts I took away from the course were as follows

Backlog Management

I now see that an effective Backlog is far greater than just a list of stories. The backlog should be ordered and prioritised list of features for the team to be working towards to satisfy the Product Vision.

Cost/Benefit Analysis and Risk Management

We were introduced to Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) as a technique to determine which story should be given to the team to work on next. WSJF is taken from the Scaled Agile Framework and takes the following into account:

  • Business Value
  • Time Criticality
  • Risk Reduction/Opportunity enablement

Previously I had worked in environments where only the business value is considered when ordering stories. I.e. This story adds more to the bottom line than this story therefore its more important and we should do that story first.

What I like about this method is that it takes more than just Business Value into account. My scoring stories across all three areas and adding them together you know their “Cost of Delay”. Once you have this is known you then divide by the job size (usually a story point estimate) to find a stories WSJF which can be used to compare against stories. Ranked WSJF (highest first) still isn’t necessarily the exact order you should approach your stories in but does allow for a sensible method of scoring each story in order to prioritise them. I can see this being of particular value with business stakeholders (who we all know 99% of the time want their feature worked on first with little regard for someone else’s) and getting them to understand the wider picture and vision of the product that is being delivered.

Learning from others

The Agil8 courses tend to have a wide range of people from different sectors and industries. On our course we had PO’s, Business Analyst’s, Scrum Masters and people in management. Sectors covered included Aviation, Finance, Software Houses, Digital Agencies and many more. Hearing people’s experience of Agile and Scrum and the challenges they have faced and how they’ve overcome was invaluable to me. This industry is fast paced and different companies have implemented Scrum in different ways, some good and some bad. I think it’s the responsibility of any good Agile practitioner to learn and discuss with the community in any way they can (blogs, courses, conferences etc).