Product Owner Team: Supporting the Portfolio Team

WRITTEN BY Dean Stevens

Last week I talked about the Product Owner Team at Agile2015. Here I’m going to focus on the relationship with the Portfolio Team. A Portfolio Team looks after the portfolio of Epics and are a key stakeholder group of the Product Owner Team. In my previous post, “Product Owner Team – Why?“, I identified a key objective for the Product Owner Team: “Provide timely information to the Portfolio Management for investment decisions”. Visibility is important to support an enterprise agile program. I’ll briefly describe the key decisions and the information the Product Owner Team provides.

Strategic Alignment

The Portfolio Team ensures work is strategically aligned to Investment Themes, Strategic Objectives, or whatever the organization uses to express their strategy goals. The Product Owner Team, working closely with the Portfolio Team, describes Epics in an Epic Brief that includes a Value Statement of the problem or opportunity, Features and Benefits, and high level constraints. With this information, the Portfolio Team validates alignment to strategy and prioritizes the Epic backlog.

Demand Planning

The Portfolio Team ensures a valuable and viable roadmap is maintained. The Product Owner team is staffed to collaboratively elaborate the features and architecture and address the key constraints for the Epic. From this work, they present the Epic on the Epic Roadmap and Epic Risk Report and update the Epic Brief with an Opportunity Statement. The Portfolio Team now has visibility to explore roadmap options and ensures significant risks are addressed.

Detailed Planning

The Portfolio Team must be assured of sufficient planning to deliver Features. The Product Owner Team has provided a clear Feature Backlog and Roadmap and supports Story Writing and Story Mapping by the Delivery Teams. Now the Product Owner Team  facilitates Release Planning resulting in a number of simply stated Release Plans covering Business (Scope and launch), Technical (Test Approach, Technical approach, Environments & coordination), and Logistics (dependencies, operations, security, etc). The Portfolio Team ensures responsible planning and explores detailed options.

Execution

The Portfolio Team requires validation of measurable progress. The Product Owner Team coordinates across Delivery Teams and support teams and is the escalation point for issues to facilitate the delivery of features. The Portfolio Team has visibility to the demo of integrated features to support decisions to continue, change or stop investing in the Epic.

With a few brief reports and frequent communication, the Product Owner Team ensures the Portfolio Team has visibility and timely information they require to make good business decisions.

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