Technology is accelerating at a rapid pace and businesses are becoming more dependent on custom software to keep pace with competitors. The software development process involves a series of stages that contain activities designed for enhanced planning and management. Gathering and analyzing requirements are some of the most important stages in the software development process.
In these stages, there are two key roles which are referred to as product owner and business analyst. Although these two roles have various skills in common, they are actually quite different.
What Is A Product Owner?
The product owner, or PO, is essential to the overall success of a project. This is the person who is responsible for building the business case and monitoring progress to ensure that business goals remain aligned and that the product roadmap is properly followed and delivered.
Product owners work directly with the client business to gain knowledge about the project and justify why certain features are developed. The PO helps develop the vision for a project, serves as a voice for the business, clarifies questions and helps drive decisions. In some cases, the product owner is also the scrum master, but this may require a change of approach based on the activities that require attention.
What Does A Product Owner Do?
In many organizations, the product owner is also given a product manager title, making him or her responsible for making important decisions about a product and communicating the roadmap. Some of the most common activities performed by a product owner include:
Developing A Vision
Product owners own the roadmap and help oversee the complete product and how it progresses over time. POs interact and collaborate with users to better understand their unique requirements and help explain their vision to the software development team. Developing a clear vision is essential to ensure that user expectations are met.
Managing Product Backlogs
A product owner must also manage product backlogs to reach a valuable end product. Maintaining a well-organized backlog simplifies planning and showcases the activities completed by the development team.
Planning Development Stages
Product owners oversee every stage of the product development progress and work alongside stakeholders to organize each step required for the next iteration. POs then communicate with the development team to identify areas that need improvement and to refine the process.
Understanding Client Needs
It is also the responsibility of the product owner to gain an understanding of the client’s needs. This enables POs to effectively manage the software development process and determine which features should be implemented. This is essential as some customers struggle with visualizing certain aspects of their vision.
What Is A Business Analyst?
Similarly to a product owner, a business analyst also plays a critical role in helping define the vision of the product and recommending solutions that deliver value. However, the role of a BA is different as this person serves as a bridge between the technical team and the business.
A business analyst is responsible for aligning a customer’s needs with the product that the development team is producing. While the PO is primarily on the business side, the BA remains more on the technical or agile side. Business analysts are often trained in technical design and analysis, making them more technically skilled.
What Does A Business Analyst Do?
A business analyst must separate him or herself from the production process and have the ability to ask questions regarding approach and direction. The answers to these questions are then given to the project team who use these insights to adapt their own approach. Some of the most common activities that business analysts perform include:
Business analysts have a unique knowledgebase of software requirements and often possess design experience. A BA helps ensure that the right questions are being asked and decisions are being made based on research. Business analysts bring insight to the development team, including product and systems understanding. They may also advise on scope, requirements, user stories and minimum viable product to maximize value.
One of a business analyst’s biggest responsibilities involves documenting requirements, either formally or informally based on the product. This may involve creating user stories and then reviewing them to ensure that all business rules are covered.
Business analysts often work with stakeholders to perform periodic reviews of the software during development. This may involve walkthroughs and other test-related activities to ensure that the project meets the requirements.
Contact A Software Development Professional
In modern organizations, both product owners and business analysts play important roles in the software development process. Although these are similar roles, it is important to understand that product owners are more focused on providing the maximum value to the company while the business analyst is more focused on the technical side of product development.