A diverse team of developers talks with pleased product owner

Tips for effective communication between the product owner and the dev team

29.10.2018

The product owner has an important role in a team, so it’s better to set with them cooperative objectives, expectations, and rules at the beginning of a project. And this is where great communication skills can help. 

A happy customer can hire your team again for another project or recommend your software agency to their friends. This is why your relationship with a product owner is very crucial for the success of your company. Sometimes, it takes some time to establish great relations but you can make it work with balanced communication. 

Here are some tips for effective communication between the product owner and the dev team. 

Get your team to operate like a well-oiled machine

One of the first things to remember is that you need to have great relations with your team first to be able to successfully communicate with the product owner. A motivated and happy team is what you need to quickly achieve your company’s goals. Listen to your team, discuss their ideas and give them a strong direction to follow. Ensure that everyone knows their role on the team and that each team member is clear about what exactly is expected of them. 

Keep control over each phase of the project. It’s really important to know the project status before you contact the product owner to avoid any miscommunication and the situations when something that had to be done already is not ready yet. Make sure that there are no hidden problems that can sabotage your efforts.

Keep the balance

Another thing to remember is that you and the product owner are not on an equal footing. The product owner has the power to make decisions, however, you have the knowledge on how the software development works. These differences sometimes lead to miscommunication or other potential problems. That’s why a two-way understanding is so important. 

You need to make sure that the product owner knows the realities of software development and the scope of the functionalities that are possible to create. Both you and the product owner should always be on the same page to know when and what to expect to avoid any conflicts or customer complaints. 

A product owner is a person that decides over the importance of product features and he needs to tell the team what the product should look like in the end. However, some of the feature requests may lead to creating a worse product, so you need to convince a product owner that some changes are necessary. 

When the final product won’t work as expected, your team will be blamed for the failure. Ask a product owner to explain the project with his own words to make sure that you both have the same vision. 

Understand the product owner vision

The product owner brings the vision of the final product to the table. This tells others what’s the role of the product, why it’s different than other products, how is it going to be profitable, who is the target audience and why people would find it useful. Their competences and knowledge are usually far exceeding yours. In all, the product owner is responsible for understanding the product features from the end-users’ perspective and is expected to know the product inside out. 

This means that you should use your technical knowledge and expertise to support the product owner vision, which can be really helpful when creating a great product. You need to make a lot of choices during the development process that can potentially enhance or hamper the vision. And there’s no room for mistakes, as you won’t get the product as planned. If you show the product owner a genuine understanding and appreciation of the ideas behind the project, you are more likely to set a better relationship. Understanding another person's viewpoint is part of effective communication. 

Convince the product owner to attend daily Scrum

Product owners usually don’t have the time to participate in daily Scrum meetings, so it can be difficult to have one during your meetings. However, try to convince them to join in these quick, time-boxed events, as there are important decisions being made at the meetings. 

When the product owner participates in the Scrum meeting, the team feels more responsible for their work. Also, it brings transparency to the project and the product owner gains a very detailed knowledge on what’s going on and can make comments when something doesn’t seem to be as expected. This can save you a lot of time. 
It also makes the entire communication faster and keeps all the people involved more productive. You don’t have to wait for the product owner response, as you can speak with them during the meeting, and it brings the opportunity to discuss the progress.

Make the project go as planned

Good communication between the product owner and the developers throughout the development life cycle is vital to your business success. You’re staying updated and sure that team members don’t go off track and delivers the best product possible. Keep in mind that the product owner can also give necessary directions to your team.

With that being said, make the communication process as simple as possible to every party involved in the development process. 

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