How can Scrum be Successful? Competences of the Scrum Product Owner – Research Paper

Product Owner Research

For some time now, the effectiveness of Scrum has been proven through the use of this Agile framework by large organizations. One of the key members of a Scrum team is the Product Owner. But what exactly makes a PO effective? Research conducted by the HU University of Applied Sciences has looked at exactly which competences make for a successful PO.

EXIN’s own PO, Ademar Albertin, contributed to the research which was initiated by Dr Pascal Ravesteyn, professor of Process Innovation and Information Systems. The research examined a range of competences that are required for Product Owners and established which are the most important for success.

 

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Abstract:

For decades a structured development process was followed when developing software. However, the suggested predictability of such an approach has long been proofed erroneous and in its place, more flexible methods have been suggested. Such agile methods are less structured and trust in the creativity of the development team in countering unpredicted events and realizing a solution. Currently one of the most popular agile methodologies is Scrum. There are only three roles in Scrum: the development team, the Scrum master and the product owner. As the product owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product and the work of the development team, this role is key in the success of Scrum. However, the competences needed by the product owner are unclear. Based on this the research question underlying this study is: Which competences of the Scrum product owner are related to team effectiveness and stakeholder satisfaction? In order to answer this question empirical data was collected from 141 employees in organizations in the Netherlands. To analyse the data, we have conducted correlation analyses, t-tests and regression analyses. The most important findings are that the competences ‘Relationship management’ and ‘User support’ are the main predictor for both Team effectiveness as Stakeholder satisfaction.

 

A Summary of the Results of the research:

To answer the question ‘Which competences of the Scrum product owner are related to team effectiveness and stakeholder satisfaction?’ data was gathered from 141 respondents from organizations in the Netherlands (correlation analyses, t-tests and regression analyses). The research found that:

  • The main predictors for team effectiveness and stakeholder satisfaction were:
    • Relationship Management
    • User Support
    • Backlog Management (team effectiveness)
  • Interestingly, Business/Product plan development has a significant negative relation to stakeholder satisfaction (hypothesis – this goes against agile methods).
  • Things to take into consideration:
    • Some of the knowledge and skill examples provided in the survey could be considered part of more traditional development methods (i.e. waterfall). These skills included long-term planning and analysis and determining milestones.
    • The role of the Scrum Master and/or presence of a project manager should also be studied in future research projects.
    • Maturity of the team and/or product owner should also be studied.
    • Overall competences of the product owner should be taken into account as this can impact the effectiveness of the team and the satisfaction of the stakeholders.