SAFe POPM: Vision and expertise give authority

Product Owners and Product Managers (POPM) together represent the customer’s wishes regarding a service or product. We asked Gladwell Academy trainer Boris de Jong to offer his thoughts on what role the PO and PM play in a SAFe organization, and how they can optimize their work.


The Product Owner and Product Manager in SAFe

“At a more basic level, Scrum creates two roles, the Scrum Master and Product Owner. It’s the Product Owner who sets the product course for the whole team. PO’s need to be both tech savvy and business minded to have meaningful conversations with customers and developers; the former to negotiate what they want from the product, and with the latter what the team can realistically deliver. This is how it works for autonomous teams in a small organization at least.”


Enter scaled Agility

“At large organizations though, you can have hundreds of independent teams working on individual features, with dozens of Product Owners all looking to have that same conversation with the customer. It’s a recipe for chaos. This inability to coordinate so many people into one vision is what holds large organizations back.”

“In SAFe, the Product Manager (one person) or Management (several people) synthesizes the feedback from a variety of internal and external sources into a single Program Backlog. The Program Backlog is the work agenda, or shopping list of features, for the entire Agile Release Train.”


POPMs provide direction

“Product Owners and Product Managers must first and foremost be experts in their field, knowing all the “ins and outs” of the product or service. They also must have superb communication skills to listen to customers and ask them the right questions – learning about what they really want, even when they don’t know it exactly for themselves. Being able to chart where products and industry trends will move, and what serves the customer best is a vital service offered by POPMs.


What a POPM certification means for you

“The POPM certification course dives deeply into articulating value: the cascade from epics, through capabilities, all the way down to user stories. While also delving into the details of what a product backlog needs, and how to distribute the product backlog to teams so they can pull work into their personal backlogs.”

“This course brings professionals a wide array of tools to leverage their technical expertise with. Having the content authority of a PO over a product or service is already an art form on its own, but having to own as well as dose that authority, to share and divide work between other Product Owners to see a product or service through its evolution is art at a higher level. Firstly though it requires a common language, one you will acquire in the course.


Don’t get left behind

As more organizations begin to adopt SAFe’s unique structure and language, POPM’s skills are only going to become more and more valuable. If you’re ready to take your technical knowledge to the next level, consider joining Gladwell Academy’s next POPM course. You can find more information here.


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