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product owner and business analyst Difference Between Product Owner & Business Analyst Role

Many organizations have implemented Agile in recent years due to all the benefits it offers to the employees and the company. Many businessmen have understood the value of Agile Methodology and how it has become a leading factor to contribute to their success. Organizations are built when many employees work together and communicate with each other efficiently. It is a team sport where the work and productivity of every individual matters and it does not depend on a single person. Agile Methodology has various frameworks that work towards implementing Agile in the company. Several roles have to be fulfilled such that the organization can function to its greatest and maximum revenue can be generated. As Agile signs of progress in a company, the number of job opportunities increases. Companies have various functions that have to be completed by several individuals. 

The role of a Product Owner and a Business Analyst are few of the roles that are created whenever a company intends to develop complex products iteratively and incrementally. There are many misconceptions about these roles being the same; also many professionals are unaware of these job opportunities and may also have ambiguity regarding these career options. Having clarity about these career options would help people to understand their interests and also give them a chance to try out the career which they feel suits them the most. The Product Owner and a Business Analyst may almost have similar roles to play, however, the area of knowledge they possess may be quite different. Understanding both their roles and responsibilities would make everyone clear about the kind of job they are expected to do and also help them decide upon a job opportunity. This article explains more about the roles of Product Owners and Business Analysts and points out the differences between their roles.

A Business Analyst is not formally defined in the Scrum framework, however business analysis as a skill is very much required in the journey of developing complex adaptive products. Organizations have adopted BA as a special role, though some of the responsibilities are supposed to be played by the Product Owner.

Product Owner vs Business Analyst

In today's organizations, there are various responsibilities of Business Owners and Business Analysts which have to be carried out such that any product developed performs well in the market and the company earns the expected return of investment. Before understanding in-depth about the major responsibilities of both these jobs, here is an overview of the major differences between a Product Owner and a Business Analyst.


Business AnalystProduct Owner
Gives strategies related to the requirements of the product.Gives business-related strategies to develop the product
Focuses more on the technical aspects of the product.Focuses on the customer-related aspects of the product.
Develops the non-functional requirements of the Product.Does competitive analysis of the product.
Help in splitting the stories into functional tasks.Explains the stories to be developed in the customer's point of view
Their priority is to make sure a technically correct product is developed.Their priority is to ensure that the developed product makes good revenue in the market and increases its business value.
They correct any technical glitches during product development and delivery.They analyze the market and estimate the market value of the product.
They make sure the technical part of the software is well-managed and ready to function.They take care of the business side of the product and make sure that the product performs well in the market.
Alignment to business architecture is taken care of by them.Fund endorsements, business engagements, issue escalation, etc are taken care of by them.

What is a Business Analyst?

A Business Analyst is a professional who is responsible for aligning the customer's needs with the product's outcome. The primary role of the Business Analyst is to make sure that the team develops the products which are requested by the customer and suitable for the user. The Business Analyst works effectively in reducing the gap between the technical team and the business team of the organization and hence looks for any bugs or loopholes and analyzes the impact. The Business Analyst is more likely to be the person who aligns themselves with the technical or Agile side of the team. They are trained highly in technical analysis and design and may make them business knowledgeable than a Product Owner but are more technically skilled.

Business Analysts are the investigators, fact-checkers, and the facilitators who work closely with the Product Owners and determine the scope of the project and envision the required resources and the standards of the project. A Business Analyst is hired to make sure that the resulting product will effectively meet true business needs and fit accurately with the business environment. Here are a few of the major responsibilities of a Business Analyst.

Research and Requirements Elicitation

A Business Analyst has to take care of the software requirements and design/solution experience of the product. They have to ensure that correct and right questions are asked such that the Product Owner works with the team to make the right decisions and try to answer the questions. The Business Analyst makes the product and system understanding clear and advises the Product Owner on the analysis of requirements, scope, and minimum viable product, user stories, etc which brings value to the users.

Documentation of requirements

The Business Analysts role is primarily to document the formal and informal requirements of the product depending on the need of the team. Few examples of the tasks of the Business Analysts may include building requirements such as user stories according to the acceptance criteria. If the Product Owner has already created a user story, it is the Business Analyst's responsibility to review the work and make sure that the user story meets all the acceptance criteria.

Communication and Management of Requirements

Business Analysts may step in when the Product Owner is not immediately available and help the Developers with solutions and requirements to complete the given project. Business Analysts together with the Product Owner communicates the product vision to the team and guides them towards achieving the requirements, flow, complexity, and dependencies. 

Assessment of solution and Validation

Business Analysts work with project Stakeholders and review the software as it develops. They walk through the product, play-acting, and do other testing activities so that the project meets all the specified requirements.

What is a Product Owner?

The Product Owner is the face of the product as they envision the product before it is developed. They are the main person responsible for the performance of a product in the market. Their primary role is to work directly with the business to achieve project-related knowledge and give the team justification about why certain features are built. They are expected to provide the vision of the product without having to go into the technical details of the product as they become the voice of the customer. They anticipate the needs of the customer and make the product vision clear such that the Developers understands what they are expected to deliver. The Scrum Guide describes Product Owners as the party that is responsible for maximizing the business side of the project. Their role also includes ensuring that any product increment delivers value to the product and the business, industry, and as well as the customers. Here are some of the major roles of a Product Owner in an organization.

  • Defining the vision

The Product Owner has the overall roadmap of the project, where the complete product can be visualized over the next few years. The Product Owner collaborates and interacts with the end-users to understand their requirements and structure a plan for the product. They also translate the product's vision into a form that could be understood by the Developers  so that all the expectations of the end-user are met.

  • Product Backlog Management

The Product Owner is a professional who is solely responsible for managing the Product Backlog. The Product Backlog is a set of product increments that has to be integrated into the product. As the product is built, the requirements of the product keep changing based on the markets and the requirements of the customer and the users, Hence, the Product Backlog has to be managed effectively such that product increments are arranged effectively.

  • Prioritization of Needs

Maintaining the product after it is built is a major task for the Product Owner as they have to review the Product Backlog before each iteration planning meeting. They have to ensure that prioritization of needs is correct and feedback from the iteration is also incorporated. The Product Owner is free to reprioritize the Product Backlog based on various factors such as refined estimates, new requirements, and customer feedback. However, those changes must be thought thoroughly and should not create any confusion within the Agile team.

  • Anticipating Client needs

The Product Owners are required to understand the client's needs and should also have skills to suggest the best features for their product. The customer's feedback is very important during the developmental process of the product. Market knowledge, the present competition, and the mentality and user behavior must be thoroughly explained to the customers and the best possible product features should be suggested.

  • Developmental Stages should be overseen

Product Owners have to oversee each stage of the product development which includes Planning, Refinement, Review, and Sprint. Planning includes working with the Stakeholders to recognize and organize the steps for the next iteration. Following which the refinement of the process where areas of improvements are identified and the next sprint is planned.

Conclusion

Agile Companies have evolved over the past few years and the job opportunities in Agile Methodology have also increased. Business Analysts and Product Owners are few of the important members of an Agile organization. While most of them think both of these jobs have similar roles, it is important to understand that a Business Analyst is concerned more with the technical side of the product development and the Product Owner is more concerned with providing the maximum value to the company by the developed product. Few smaller organizations and startups may have a single person performing many roles, but as the business evolves it becomes inevitable to have different professionals for these roles. As people are more aware of the difference between these job opportunities, it makes them easier to choose their specialty based on their interests, current job experience, and career choices.  

Author

Priyanka Datt

Has nearly 15 years of experience as a practitioner in the areas of Agile and Scrum. She delivers training and coaching programs for organisations and teams across the globe. She is helping budding Scrum Masters and Product Owners to learn and grow in their careers.