A Powerful Partnership – Product Owners, Designers, and Architects

When making our transition to Agile last year, we moved from an organization focused on delivering projects to an organization focused on delivering value through product development. As part of this move to dedicated product teams, we leveraged an approach to establish a triangle of roles used to create and maintain the vision and roadmap for the product. We call this our discovery team and it looks like this:

Agile Scrum Discovery Team

The discovery team consists of the Product Owner, Architect (or lead engineer), and a User Experience Designer. While the Product Owner is ultimately responsible for product decisions, the discovery team develops the product vision collectively by answering three questions:

Who are our users?
What are their needs?
What features will satisfy those needs?

While answering these questions and before development begins on a specific feature, the discovery team brings these unique perspectives:

Value. The Product Owner is responsible for ensuring the feature will be valuable to our customers and to the organization. Is this the right thing to do right now?

Feasibility. The Architect is responsible for ensuring the technical feasibility of the feature. This includes staff capability and technical availability. If a feature is deemed not feasible, it is added to the product roadmap (and the architecture roadmap) and developed at a time when it is feasible. Can we do this right now?

Usable. The User Experience Designer ensures our customers will have a good experience while using the product. This should include the perspective from both visual and interaction design. How will our customers react and respond if we did this right now?

By using this approach, there is an increase in:

Confidence. Often times, projects were started and deadlines announced before technical feasibility was determined. Including the technical perspective to product discovery brings a level of confidence to the team and organization when time to start building features.

Balance. The insights from each perspective provide stability to the product development process by bringing feasibility and usability into the decision-making process.

Focus. Our focus is now exclusively on our customers and their needs. It’s not just getting something done through the completion of a project, but continuously getting the right thing done for our customers.

Marty Cagan “The Product Discovery Plan” http://www.svpg.com/the-product-discovery-plan/


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12 thoughts on “A Powerful Partnership – Product Owners, Designers, and Architects

  1. Great thoughts – the roles must continually work together to decide what is valuable, feasible, and usable.

    What a PO may think is valuable, a UX designer could prove or disprove through some simple user testing.
    What a UX designer may think is usable, a PO may have a better market strategy to make it more valuable. What anyone may think is feasible, and architect will need to first verify it is, and if it is not, adding it to the roadmap is not always the right idea. We need to plan in other work first that will make it more feasible. OR maybe make some trade-offs between the most usable product, the most valuable product, or the most feasible product. (Building it right, fast, and the right thing). Great concepts but it’s always a trade off conversation between the three areas of expertise…with the CUSTOMER at the center.