The Product Owner is a member of the Agile Team responsible for defining Stories and prioritizing the Team Backlog to streamline the execution of program priorities while maintaining the conceptual and technical integrity of the Features or components for the team. The Product Owner has a significant role in maximizing the value produced by the team and ensuring stories meet the user’s needs and comply with the Definition of Done. This role has significant relationships and responsibilities outside the local team, including working with Product Management, Customers, Business Owners, and other stakeholders.
This role serves as the business owner or customer proxy responsible for working with Product Management and other stakeholders—including other Product Owners—to define and prioritize stories in the team backlog. This allows the solution to effectively address program priorities (Features and Enablers) while maintaining technical integrity. Ideally, the Product Owner is collocated with the rest of the team, where they typically share management, incentives, and culture. But the Product Owner also attends the relevant Product Management meetings for planning and Program Backlog/Vision refinement.
Preparation and Participation in PI Planning
Program backlog refinement and prep for Program Increment (PI) planning and plays a significant role in the planning event itself. Before the planning event, the Product Owner updates the team backlog and
Reviews and contributes to the program vision, Roadmap, and content presentations.
Story definition, providing the clarifications necessary to assist the team with their story estimates and sequencing. The entire Agile team, which includes the Product Owner, also work together to determine their team PI objectives for the upcoming PI.
Maintaining the team backlog – With input from System Architect/Engineering and other stakeholders, building, editing, and maintaining the team backlog. Consisting mostly of user stories, it also includes defects and enablers. Backlog items are prioritized based on user value, time, and other team dependencies determined in the PI planning event and refined during the PI.
Sprint Planning – The Product Owner reviews and reprioritizes the backlog as part of the prep work for Sprint Planning, including coordination of dependencies with other Product Owners. During the Sprint planning event, the Product Owner communicates story detail and priorities and ensures the team aligns and agrees on a final Sprint plan.
Just-in-time story elaboration – Most backlog items are elaborated into user stories for implementation. This may happen before the Sprint, during Sprint planning, or during the Sprint. While any team member can write stories and acceptance criteria, the Product Owner maintains proper flow.
Apply Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) – Product Owner collaborates with their team to detail stories with acceptance criteria and examples in the form of acceptance tests.
Accepting stories – The Product Owner works with the team to agree on accepted story completion. This includes validating that the story meets acceptance criteria, that it has the appropriate, persistent acceptance tests, and that it otherwise complies with its Definition of Done (DoD). In so doing, the Product Owner also assures a level of quality, focusing primarily on fitness for use.
Understand enabler work – While Product Owners are not expected to drive technological decisions, they are supposed to understand the scope of the upcoming enabler work and collaborate with System and Solution Architect/Engineering to assist with decision-making and sequencing of the critical technological infrastructures that will host the new business functionality. This can often be best accomplished by establishing a capacity allocation.
Participate in team demo and retrospective – Product Owner collaborates with their team and any other stakeholders in the team demo. They also participate in the Sprint Retrospective, where the teams gather to improve their processes and are active in the Agile Release Train’s (ART’s) Inspect and Adapt (I&A) workshop.
Sprints and Agile teams serve a larger purpose; the frequent, reliable, and continuous release of value-added solutions. During each PI, the Product Owner coordinates dependencies with other Product Owners. This often occurs in weekly Product Owners sync events. The Product Owners also has an instrumental role in producing the System Demo for program and Value Stream stakeholders.
Inspect and Adapt (I&A)
Teams address their larger impediments in the I&A workshop. There, the Product Owner works across teams to define and implement improvement stories that will increase the velocity and quality of the program.
The PI system demo is part of the I&A workshop. The Product Owner has an instrumental role in producing the PI system demo for program stakeholders.
To ensure that they will be able to show the most critical aspects of the solution to the stakeholders, Product Owners also participate in the preparation of the PI system demo.
Program and Team Backlog(s) govern the prioritization of these work items. They are managed by the Product Manager and the Product Owner who provide the content authority of their respective backlogs. The table below provides guidance on how to delineate the responsibilities across these roles. Depending on the solution’s size and architecture (and to some degree the organization’s culture), authority for these items can become more decentralized, shifting them to the right. For example, stable Agile Teams who become increasingly knowledgeable about the customer’s problems and the solution context are capable of directly contributing Features and Stories to Product Management.
Travel requirements to (primarily) domestic destinations should not exceed 25%
7-10 years’ business analysis experience supporting technical projects, such as software development and delivery, in an Agile environment
Thorough knowledge of Agile framework and application of principles in managing multiple projects
Lean thinking to decompose Epics into Features and Stories, refine Features and Stories, manage Program and Team backlogs, and to plan and execute Sprints and Program Increments
Bachelor’s Degree preferred
SAFe POPM or CSPO certification preferred
As a leading payments company in healthcare, we guide, price, explain, and pay for care on behalf of insurers and their members. We’re Zelis in our pursuit to align the interests of payers, providers, and consumers to deliver a better financial experience and more affordable, transparent care for all. We partner with more than 700 payers, including the top-5 national health plans, BCBS insurers, regional health plans, TPAs and self-insured employers, over 4 million providers, and 100 million members, enabling the healthcare industry to pay for care, with care. Zelis brings adaptive technology, a deeply ingrained service culture, and a comprehensive navigation through adjudication and payment platform to manage the complete payment process.
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