7 Key Product Owner Responsibilities

7 Key Product Owner Responsibilities

in April 20, 2022

Before your product is introduced to its end-user, several people have worked tirelessly to actualize a vision. One person at the centre of all product development cycles is the product owner. You might be wondering about the exact role he/she plays in getting the product to the market. According to scrum methodologies, a software development approach using an incremental approach, a product owner is any person that forms part of the key user or business team. He/she is the one who maximizes the value of products that a team develops.

To actualize what he/she is supposed to do, a product owner will take on several roles, including the project manager, product designer, business strategist, and customer liaison officer. This means that at one point, he/she will access his/her market knowledge for strategizing and presenting a vision to shareholders, while at the next point, he/she will act as a developer helping teams reach their goals.

Despite playing multiple roles, below are the seven crucial ones for a product owner.

Defining a product’s vision

A product owner will determine the goals of each product so that he/she defines the features that will help to attain this goal. He/she is an integral part of the development team, where he/she will use high-level insight to define a goal and generate a vision for the project. To come up with the goals of a product, a product owner communicates with the intended users to understand their pain points. This means conducting user research to ensure the clarity of a product’s goal and the alignment of its vision with company goals.

When a product owner has a higher perspective, the product team can focus on one vision even with the fast pace and agility of product development. He/she can help the team maintain its vision by coming up with a product roadmap. This is a strategic visual summary detailing the vision of the product and the steps to take to actualize it.

Managing the product backlog

A product backlog is the to-do list for the development team. This live document is continually updated according to the evolving needs over the course of product development. The product owner creates the list of backlog items then prioritizes them according to a business’s overall strategy and objectives. He/she also charts the appropriate sequence for product development. Since the product backlog might change frequently, a product owner should ensure all stakeholders have the updated document to guarantee optimized performance and actualized project outcomes.

Prioritizing a project’s needs

A product owner should have a high-level vision for a product and how it will fit into their overall company objectives. With this, he/she will know what items on the product backlog should be a priority. The most important items in a project are often the time, scope, and budget. These should be considered according to the objectives and needs of all stakeholders to ensure everyone is satisfied. For instance, if your product should be launched within six months, a product owner gauges which development elements are flexible and which are not to determine when and how each aspect should be developed in time for the launch.

Supervising product development stages

The product development journey often follows predefined steps to ensure a product is adequately tested and implemented. The six stages of product development include idea generation, product definition, prototyping, initial designing, testing, and commercialization. After settling on the vision, strategy, and priorities of product development, a product owner should spend time supervising each of these stages. Any changes in the vision and objectives at any stage should be promptly communicated to all stakeholders to ensure the product’s success. Although you don’t need to code to be a product owner, understanding code using beginner level courses can have its advantages.

Anticipating a client’s needs

A successful product owner excels at understanding and anticipating the needs of a client to allow him/her to effectively manage a product’s development. This necessitates an adequate industry and market experience in a product’s lifecycle. The knowledge will help a product owner anticipate a client’s needs early and address them effectively. You can use customer journey mapping to stay ahead of your clients. This is a visual representation of a shared vision for your customer experience so that you read the minds of clients and wow them with products that meet their needs.

Being the primary contact between the development team and stakeholders

Product owners should be excellent communicators because they are the main points of contact between their development teams and stakeholders. They ensure the opinions of stakeholders on major decisions are communicated in clear deliverables and instructions to developers. To help developers understand users, product owners can create user stories with data intelligence.

User stories are non-technical explanations of product features from users’ perspectives. They define the goals of each product feature so that a development team understands what it is building, why it is making the product, and the value the product should create. To ease getting feedback on a product from stakeholders, a product owner can use online review platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Google. Here is a template and guide on the best practices for asking for a review.

Evaluating a product’s development progress

A product owner is responsible for all stages of product development and the eventual product. He/she will take an active role in evaluating the product at each stage to ensure it meets the envisioned standards. If there are any flaws, the product owner will make the judgment call to take a step back and rectify the mistakes. Waiting to evaluate only the final product will lead to huge losses since a lot of resources will have been wasted on a product that will not meet market needs.

 

As the above article attests, product owners handle multiple responsibilities, so they should be experts in almost all fields of a product’s development and business operations. Since being an expert in every field is complicated and sometimes impossible, it is prudent to have a project management tool that allows product owners to collaborate with experts easily. This will ease their tasks and maximize the odds of launching a successful product.