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Invest in Certified Scrum Product Owner Training. Here's Why.

by Dean Kynaston
Product owner thinking about her stakeholders and product backlog

The most successful product deliveries involve customer-focused business and technical people working together daily throughout the discovery and development of the product. Strong product ownership is what drives this. Scrum is an effective framework for aligning what we traditionally have referred to as the “two sides of the organization--IT and the business.” You want strong product ownership in your organization to shield your development team and ensure clarity every day on customer-focused and purpose-driven development. We want to break down that wall between IT and the business.

Many organizations experience the following frustrations we’ve heard over and over again where this wall remains in place:

“Three years without a single product release!  We’ve worked over-time week after week not only running the business, but also documenting our requirements to build this new product to help us get out of this hole.  Hundreds of pages of requirements have been written and we feel like we’ve told, then re-told the same requirements over and over again to IT. It seems like an endless pit!  We haven’t yet seen a working product, but we do see the remaining budget steadily decreasing each month at an alarming rate. It’s so frustrating!”

While unfortunate, many organizations experience this frustration not realizing that the solution is different than what they might expect. These types of problems are solved by placing the accountability for the product in the hands of the business AND IT--not just in IT. In other words, you want a well trained product owner who knows how to effectively, intimately and regularly collaborate with the people doing the technical work, and bringing those people together with the customer to properly discover what to create for the customer.

But where do you start to get this approach into your organization? The best foundational training any product owner can receive is the Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) course.  

What is Certified Scrum Product Owner training?

Over a two-day (typical duration) interactive experience led by a Scrum Alliance Certified Scrum Trainer (CST), a Certified Scrum Product Owner course not only prepares participants for the CSPO designation, it more importantly prepares them to be a product owner by practicing product ownership principle-based techniques just as they would in the real world. Participants can expect to learn in a CSPO course:

  1. Product owner core competencies - behaviors, characteristics, strengths, and responsibilities

  2. Techniques for clearly defining purpose and strategy

  3. Skills for understanding customers and users

  4. Running experiments to validate product assumptions

  5. Collaborating with developers to refine the product backlog for the customer’s competitive advantage

What is the return on investment from Certified Scrum Product Owner training?

The investment in becoming a CSPO has a high return. The challenges outlined in the failure (i.e. lack of collaborative product ownership) scenario above include:

  • Cost & schedule overruns

  • Rework costs

  • Excessive documentation (resulting in no value delivered) replacing face to face conversation (which enables delivery of value)

  • Vast amounts of work in progress, not ready to ship to the customer

Solutions to those challenges--solutions which are found in the CSPO training--may include:

Product owner who can represent the voice of the customer to their scrum team directly contribute to the creation of value.

Product owners who understand and communicate what their customers need and, more importantly, why they need it make the entire scrum team more effective.

Product owners who are empowered by the organization to shield their development team from confusing, mixed messages about priority and value reach desired outcomes faster.

Product owners who can align organizations on a product vision and product roadmap help everyone to remain focused on what is important in the midst of constantly distracting ideas.

In today’s market, the most expensive investment in product development is the cost of the development team itself.  Effective product owners ensure the development team is always working on the highest value, highest risk features, minimizing wasted investment in the talent needed to deliver value.

One full year after starting on their agile transformation, one of our clients finally decided to invest in CSPO training. Like many other organizations trying to transform the way they work, this organization started within IT and struggled to align with the business leaders--those who knew the customer best. They finally realized what was missing and through the training the impact was nearly immediate on their ability to set clear direction on their products. They regretted waiting so long. The product owners began to see their product through a different, more effective lens.

Who should take the CSPO class?

Anyone interested in learning more about the product owner role should invest in CSPO training. From product-focused executives to business stakeholders to those who truly own the product goals, the principles and practices learned in CSPO training empower everyone to collaboratively support delivery of customer value. Even developers--the technical people on the scrum team--benefit from the training to see their expanded role in customer collaboration and product discovery.

Great product owners typically have the following characteristics:

  • An aptitude for helping others catch a product vision for their customers

  • First-hand experience working with customers and the ability to express the customer’s needs to the organization

  • Decisiveness, particularly with difficult financial trade-off decisions

  • Availability and access, especially to their scrum team

  • Courage to run experiments and encourage a learning environment

  • Accountability for the product’s return on investment  

  • Capability of balancing  internal stakeholders’ requests and customers’ needs 

  • Ability to help stakeholders see the impact of requests on the overall strategy of the product

If these characteristics describe you, you’ll love the CSPO course.  Sometimes we find that people who have a strong business analyst background are also a good fit, but only if the organization will empower them (and they have the aptitude) to make the tough financial and investment tradeoff decisions expected of product owners. 

 

Each scrum role has its own set of challenges and product ownership is one of the most difficult to get right.  Learn critical product owner skills and techniques by investing in a CSPO course today.

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