Becoming an effective Professional Scrum Product Owner™ I (PSPO™ I) is more important than ever, but it’s often not easy to get started as one, especially if you’re used to being in the role of programmer or tester. Luckily, there are plenty of organizations and certification programs designed to help you get up to speed on the knowledge and tools you need to be successful in your new role as Product Owner.
Product management has evolved tremendously in the last few years, with Agile becoming the development process of choice for most modern companies. This has created many new job opportunities and career paths in product management, but it’s important to know how to break into this booming industry, how to get your foot in the door, and what skills you need to succeed as an Agile Product Owner (henceforth known as PSPO).
What is PSPO?
At its most basic level, PSPO is an acronym for Professional Scrum Product Owner. But when it comes to business, acronyms don’t provide much insight unless you know what they mean. So that is where I need to start. For you to become a PSPO, you must learn everything there is about your products and services so that you can better serve your customers and meet their demands.
While understanding your customers is important for any business, it is especially important if you are working with an agile team. This requires more than just talking with them about what they want or even watching them use your product or service daily.
The Prerequisites of Becoming a PSPO
You’ve probably heard about agile development and scrum, but you may not know how critical a role product owners play. To become a professional scrum product owner, you must possess certain skills and characteristics. According to Scott Ambler, your success as a product owner depends on three key factors:
(1) having strong analytical capabilities;
(2) being able to demonstrate excellent communication skills; and
(3) possessing leadership skills. However, no matter how well-versed you are with the agile methodology or how quickly you can solve complex math problems, if these skills are lacking it will be virtually impossible for you to succeed. An emphasis on having good analytical skills often seems at odds with possessing great communication capabilities—but never fear!
A Case Study
Becoming a PSPO may seem daunting, but it is not that difficult. Let’s take a look at Joe, our fictional PSPO ™ . Joe had experience using agile methodologies when he was on his previous company’s mobile development team. He used an agile product management tool called JIRA® for issue tracking and release planning.
When Joe was promoted from team member to product owner, he quickly realized that although his experience as an agile software developer could be carried over into his new role as PSPO ™ , there were specific things he needed to learn about becoming a professional product owner and utilizing JIRA® specifically for agile project management.
The Benefits of Being PSPO Certified
PSPO™ I Certification Professionals come from many different fields of expertise and bring with them a wide variety of skills, talents, and levels of business maturity. Regardless of where you are in your career or how much experience you have with agile development; if you are interested in improving your ability to be successful as a Product Owner, becoming PSPO Certified is one of your best options.
The PSPO Assessment
Look, I’m not going to pretend that you’re all world-class problem solvers. Many of you probably fell into software development because it looked like a more interesting career than accounting or insurance sales, and until now your formal business training has been limited to a few weeks of job-related PSPO course at technical colleges.
So why should you bother reading about something as boring as management? Because over half of new businesses fail within three years, and if you don’t know how to grow your business from just an idea into an actual money-making machine, there’s only one thing for certain: You will fail.
Conclusion and Next Steps
If you don’t have experience working with scrum, it’s time to learn. Training and PSPO certification will help you make sense of it all. If you have experience with scrum, whether or not you have a certification, consider taking advantage of your company’s mentorship opportunities so that you can get formalized training on scrum best practices. In either case, attending PSPO training is crucial if you want a career in software product management.