The 18F Delivery team released a “Partnership Playbook” that aims to help federal agencies understand what to expect when working with 18F, and the gem within is play number two, “We work with an empowered product owner.”
The product owner will soon evolve into one of the most important roles in government technology, so it’s critical for those leading development teams to understand its application.
We work best with an empowered product owner who can make decisions about the project we’re partnering on. In agile development, a product owner is responsible for project scoping and prioritizing. Our delivery team will rely on the product owner for direction as the project develops. This product owner must be empowered to make decisions about the product. The product owner should be experienced at getting buy-in from other organizational leaders; support should be lined up before our engagement.
We look for a product owner who has already lined up internal stakeholder support. Any project will impact a number of internal agency groups and systems, so it will need buy-in and technical integration support from those people. The product owner garners this buy-in and support. Before the engagement starts, the owner should have had conversations with and identified champions in relevant internal groups. Beginning these conversations in the middle of development can grind everything to a halt; they should be well underway by the time a digital service team is brought on board to deliver. We recommend that you map out the relevant stakeholders before embarking on a project.
Having an empowered product owner is crucial to decisions getting made and having a solid product vision. Play number two is required reading for everyone building government digital services.