A Day in the Life of a Product Owner

Posted on 2018-07-13 13:51 in Blog

The day begans like any other. Wonder into the office around 9am. Greeting a few coworkers before settling into my desk. Opening up Gmail to check what fires need stamping out and taking a tour through the calendar to learn about the day’s meetings. Eight meetings today. More than I like to see, but nothing terrible. I update my to do list with any critical information I think I need to gather prior to the important meetings, and then grab my mug and make my way to the cafeteria.

I grab a cheese stick from the cooler and get in line at the coffee machine, making small talk and catching up as I wait for my mocaccino. I love the fancy coffee machines that work has. With caffeine in hand, I walk to my first stand-up. The Product Security team is small, with only three developers. They are embedded in the other Scrum teams to provide their expertise when necessary. The meeting passes without incident, so I make my way to second standup, the engine team.

The engine team is larger, with 8 dedicated developers and 3 quality assurance people. I learn about unexpected complexity for one of the important projects and that a key developer will be out next week, meaning I’ll need to re-examine story alignment and delivery time frames. I make a note of the two.

Off to my third stand-up. Thankfully this is the once a week meeting along all us product owners, so we can keep one another abreast of our project status. Mostly to track interdependencies and knowledge share. Next week’s release is being pushed a week to make space for a critical patch to an older version. Good news for me, extra buffer room so the testers will be less rushed.

After a brief half hour at my desk to catch up on emails, I head off to a story-authoring meeting. We met last week to draw up the story map, detailing the various ways the project personas would interact with the feature. Since then, I’d broken the map into pieces and wrapper stories around the different portions of functionality. Presenting to the group, we reviewed the requirements and scopes assigned to each story. Some past muster, are sized, and added to the backlog. Others are deemed too vague, too large in scope, or we are still waiting on final UI mocks, and are left in the authoring state. Overall, a good meeting, productive.

Lunch: Indian take out, can’t be beat

After lunch I run an uneventful chartering session for the next medium sized project for the team. There is a little contention defining the extent of the build out, and eventually everyone agrees on the phase 1 work and what would be put off until the next phase.

This is followed by two back-2-back, one-on-ones with my product managers. Who are both unhappy we are “behind” schedule. Once again I repeat the discussion of the sized work from developers on the story and the amount of calendar time required to build it. If they want it sooner, what part of the feature do they want cut… Oh, you still want everything? …

With my mid-afternoon coffee, I settle into my desk to pound out the story delta from the authoring meeting this morning, clean up the chartering document, and chat up the user experience people over instant messenger to get a rough idea on when their work will be done.

I review my updated to do list from the days meetings, schedule a follow up authoring meeting from this morning, a new story mapping meeting from the charter that I ran, and turned by attention to reviewing the project backlog for my team. One project has been fully passed onto testing, three are making good progress, and I update the state for one from backlog idea to “authoring” to mark the transition into the authoring state.

Last meeting of the day, QA hand-off. We start the meeting with my re-presenting the story, describing the need for the feature that was built and my criteria for validating the feature works as expected and the environments it needs to work in. The developer takes over, describes the new settings, how to access the feature, and provides a short five minute demo of the feature. They then cover a few edge cases they ran into that they’d like QA to take a closer look at. Successful hand-off, great end to a busy day.

I stop by my boss’s desk to chat for a few minutes and reflect on the days work. I then grab my backpack and head home. Glad to have the day’s work behind me, happy to know everything is progressing smoothly. At least as smoothly as one could expect a software project to go. I think to my self, being a Product Owner isn't so bad.