Have you ever wondered what a Product Owner does? If so, keep reading to learn what a Product Owner is, their importance in the Scrum framework, their roles and responsibilities, and how you can become a Scrum Product Owner.
For an Agile team, a Product Owner plays a key role in managing the stakeholder’s needs. In the Scrum framework, a Product Owner is an ambassador for an Agile team when interacting with the stakeholders. Product Owner responsibilities include ensuring a clear understanding between the stakeholders and the Agile team and demonstrating the final solution to the stakeholders.
The roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Product Owner involve deciding what features would be a part of the product release, defining user stories according to customer requirements, and prioritizing those stories for the development team in an Agile environment. If you want to build a career as a Product Owner, the first step is to understand the roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner in an Agile team.
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When building a product, a product owner is instrumental in the Scrum framework as he or she will understand the user requirements, consolidate them into a product vision, and share this vision with the development team using a prioritized product backlog.
At the most basic level, an Agile Product Owner manages several roles, such as Product Designer, Market Analyst, Business Strategist, Risk Manager, and Project Manager. In sum, Product Owners are an integral part of any Scrum team, because they are responsible for maximizing the value of products created by the Scrum development team.
These are the 7 key roles and responsibilities of a Product Owner:
1) Defining Goals and Creating a Vision – In the product development team, the Scrum Product Owner is responsible for ensuring maximum product value in line with customer goals and a product vision. A Certified Product Owner communicates with stakeholders, customers, business managers and the development team to ensure goals are clear and the vision aligns with business goals.
The Scrum Product Owner maintains a higher-level perspective to make sure the team sustains a cohesive vision. Regardless of the flexible and fast-paced nature of the Agile product development cycle, everyone needs to be on the same page for the project to work effectively.
2) Managing the Product Backlog – One key responsibility of the Product Owner is to manage the product backlog. Following customer requirements, the Certified Product Owner owns and defines the product backlog. This starts with updating the product backlog list and, then, prioritizing the backlog according to the urgency and criticality of requirements. Along this process, the development sequence is charted.
As the product specs change and evolve, the backlog list is continuously updated. This is because the product backlog list is dynamic and subject to changes, and is made accessible to all stakeholders.
3) Overseeing Development Stages – Once the vision, strategy, and product priorities are set, the Product Owner oversees the actual development of the product. Their role is critical in overseeing planning, refining, reviewing, and the sprint.
It is a great opportunity for the Product Owner to take the initiative, be a part of sprint review meetings, and identify areas of improvement. At the same time, the Scrum Product Owner works with stakeholders during the planning stage to identify and plan the steps for the next iteration.
Then, the Product Owner meets the timelines, refines the process, and supports the sprint.
4) Prioritizing Needs – As the role of an Agile Product Owner involves juggling the triangle of scope, budget, and time, prioritizing needs is instrumental for success. They weigh priorities based on the needs and objectives of the stakeholders.
Let’s say, your product currently under development needs to be launched in six months. This constrains the scope of the project. However, as the product evolves, the Product Owner must assess areas that have the flexibility. For those that aren’t flexible, the Product Owner must determine how and when each iteration must be developed.
5) Anticipating Customer Needs – One thing that makes Scrum Product Owners successful is that they are experts at understanding and anticipating client needs. This helps them manage the development process effectively.
Two skills are primarily responsible for anticipating problems and addressing them – deep market knowledge and communication.
The Agile Product Owner understands client requirements from the perspective of the customer life cycle journey. This helps them understand long-term customer goals and prepares them to anticipate changes better.
6) Acting As Point of Contact – The Product Owner is the primary communicator and acts as a liaison between development teams and stakeholders. They need to be expert communicators because there will be times when they need stakeholder buy-in on major decisions.
Additionally, they need to give clear instructions and set deliverables for developers to ensure a smooth execution and product delivery.
The Scrum Product Owner also needs to have a clear idea about customer goals. Goals need to be defined and communicated to the stakeholders, including customers, development teams, Scrum Master, project teams, and business managers.
7) Evaluating Progress – The Scrum Product Owner is responsible for each stage of development and the final product. They inspect and evaluate the product progress through every iteration. The Product Owner analyzes performance and determines if the team can move forward or needs to start over.
Along with these roles and responsibilities, the Scrum Product Owner needs certain skills, such as being business savvy, available, and a great communicator. The best Product Owners are available for their teams, show commitment to build the best product, and actively communicate and engage with their teams.
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The terms Scrum Master and Product Owner are not interchangeable. The main difference between the Scrum Master and Product Owner involves coordination and interaction with stakeholders.
The Scrum Master is an expert in Agile practices, frameworks, and methodologies. They ensure messages are communicated in the right way and development adheres to Agile practices.
The Scrum Product Owner understands customer requirements, translates them into product requirements, and ensures product delivery.
As the Product Owner and Product Manager tend to work toward the same goal, arguably, it is possible to confuse the two roles as well as their responsibilities and career path.
To understand the key difference between Product Owner vs Product Manager, let’s explore the skills needed for each job and future career opportunities.
The Product Owner, according to the official Scrum Guide, is someone “who is responsible for maximizing the value of a product based on the work of the development team.”
Within the Scrum team, the Product Owner prioritizes tasks for engineers or developers. To keep the ball rolling, the Scrum Product Owner creates a product backlog list so developers know which tasks to work on to deliver the end product.
The duties of a Product Owner include:
Skills Required for Product Owners
According to the Scrum Alliance, great Product Owners must have the following skills.
1) Providing Excellent Customer Service – One important differentiator of Product Manager vs Product Owner is the ability to take care of customers. This involves thinking critically, solving problems, and being available at all times.
2) Storyteller – A large part of the Product Owner’s job is to delight the customer using great product storytelling.
3) Information Liaison Between the Stakeholder and Developers – Acting as the middleman between the development team and the stakeholders, the Agile Product Owner is responsible for the product backlog. They foster collaboration between the developers and other teams.
4) Problem Solver – A good Product Owner can engage with development teams and other parties when conflicts arise to make sure the product is moving forward at all times.
Product Owner Career Paths
As Certified Product Owner moves up the ladder, they make take on these other roles:
The Product Manager’s role is to determine and prioritize what to build next. This means, the Product Manager plays more of a holistic role in high-level responsibilities to cover the entirety of the product life cycle.
The duties of a Product Manager entail:
Skills required for Product Managers
The best Product Managers possess both soft- and hard-skills for optimal success.
Product Manager Career Options
The next career steps for a Product Manager may include these roles:
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The Certified Scrum Master training bootcamp from GreyCampus helps you learn and manage any product’s lifecycle, from start to finish. To become a Scrum Product Owner, you’ll need to learn how to create product backlogs, communicate across all levels of the organization, and deliver high-quality products to your customers. This training program is ideal for every professional pursuing a career as a Product Owner. The understanding of the Scrum framework for Agile project management helps you succeed by validating your knowledge in Scrum processes.