I’m going to buck the trend of most discourse these days and explicitly admit my bias when it comes to product ownership.
I got my information technology start working as a business analyst. Business analysis work has always played a significant role in the work I’ve done. I also credit that business analysis background as a main reason that I became so interested in product ownership and product management.
So when I look at the skill sets that are essential for product ownership, business analysis skills naturally come to the forefront. They are by no means the only skills you need to be success in product ownership, but I have found they can take you quite a ways.
Apart from my inherent bias, I think business analysis skills are helpful for product ownership because those skills help teams:
- Understand why they are working on a product (identify the intended outcome)
- Build a shared understanding of the problem the team is trying to solve and the possible solutions (the communication mechanism also known as requirements)
- Pull together and organize the information necessary for timely, informed decisions.
If you come from a business analysis background you have a head start understanding those business analysis techniques.
If you come from a different background, you may find yourself wanting to know how you can pick up some of those business analysis skills.
In this week’s issue of Inside Product Ownership, I share a set of resources that describe the relationship between business analysis and product ownership, and I provide a pointer to an excellent training opportunity that you can use if you’d like to pick up, or expand on, your business analysis skills.
What product owners need to know about business analysis
Business analysis skills help effective product owners focus on outcomes, build shared understanding, and make sure decisions get made. To get a better idea of how business analysis applies to product ownership, this post takes a look at how business analysis skills can help you with each of the three habits I mentioned above.
The importance of context
In episode 106 of the BA Revolution podcast, I joined my buddy Kupe to discuss the importance of context in business analysis, product ownership and product management. We talked about the “only child model“, the “identical twins model“, the “fraternal twins model“, and the “triplet model” and what this means for the people who work in product and IT within these teams.
How do you become a product owner
One question I’m frequently asked is “what are some paths to product ownership?” An appropriate answer to that question depends a great deal on the context in which you ask it, so assume the context is a large enterprise that uses product owners in their efforts to develop and maintain their internal products. Given that context, I’m going to rephrase that question to: “How do you become a product owner?” Within that context, the answer depends on where you’re starting from and where you’d like to end up.
Tools Every Business Analyst and Product Owner Needs to Know (and Use)
Marcel Britsch has observed “While every craftsman must know the tools of their trade, where analysis is concerned, it is the business analyst’s (and product owners) responsibility to provide leadership, and from what I am seeing, not many of us are up for the task!” He wrote this post to share a variety of ways that business analysts and product owners can model information to help build shared understanding.
Product Owners and Business Analysts have many skills in common… but they are not the same.
In the previous resource, Marcel chose to use the terms business analysis and product owner interchangeably. Jamie Davies on the other hand insists that while the two roles have many skills in common (the ones I usually refer to as business analysis skills) they are different roles. I don’t agree with Jamie’s descriptions of the roles in terms of the limits he places on both, but they probably are an accurate representation of how many in the industry see those two roles.