Introduction to the Product Owner Role
A product owner plays an indispensable role in every stage of the software development process in the Scrum Agile framework. Product owners are defined in Scrum technologies as members of the chief business or user team responsible for the smooth execution of a project. Scrum is a framework for a systematic approach to software development via increment.
The increasing popularity of Scrum has led to its widespread adoption by all industries, leading to increasing demand for product owners in these sectors.
This blog will discuss in detail the scope and prospects of the job of a product owner.
Understanding the Scrum Framework
A type of Agile methodology, Scrum focuses on product development, primarily software, through iterations, that is, incremental stages. With Scrum, a group of developers can try and test a complex project, reflect on the impact, and make changes accordingly.
A Scrum team typically consists of three leading role players — the product owner, Scrum Master, and the Scrum team. The product owner determines and aligns the project’s business value with consumer demands. The Scrum Master assists the team in adopting Scrum methodologies for attaining business value, and the Scrum team works on developing the deliverables following the client’s guidelines.
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Key Responsibilities of a Product Owner
Some of the key product owner responsibilities are listed below:
- The product owner defines, manages, and prioritises the product backlog, describing each item in detail.
- The product owner takes cues from the product manager’s strategies and simplifies them into performable actions for the development team.
- The product owner must also have expertise in the market demands and customer needs.
- The product owner should always be prepared to answer the development team’s questions and provide feedback on their progress.
The above responsibilities are elaborated below.
- Building a product vision and strategy
A certified Scrum product owner ought to develop a vision for the chosen product that is clear and inspiring-something adhering to the goals and objectives of the company. They must constantly brainstorm to generate innovative product ideas and designs and strongly recommend them to stakeholders and developers.
Apart from developing product vision, the product owner maintains an equilibrium between the short and long-term objectives of the company. They strategically decide the beneficial course of action for the product and the company in the distant future. Finally, they inspire the development team to believe in the product vision and encourage them to take risks to fulfil it.
- Defining product backlog and prioritisation
Apart from having a clear roadmap of the product vision, a product owner’s role is to understand and prioritise competing demands regarding the product backlog. In Agile organisations, the product backlog comprises the user experience anecdotes collected by the development team, which are used as examples before embarking on the subsequent development project.
- Effective communication with stakeholders
The product owner is the primary point of contact between the stakeholders and the development teams. Hence, in Scrum, product owners must have excellent communication skills to get the necessary consent from the stakeholders on significant decisions and strategies and clear instructions from the stakeholders on product development.
- Working with the development team and Scrum Master
As a tactical contributor to the development team, the product owner has to collaborate with the Scrum Master at all times. Their utmost priority in this regard is to elaborate upon the product backlog and sort the items in the list according to specified criteria.
Furthermore, once the assigned task is complete, the product owner has to provide feedback to the team and provide leads on future efforts for development. Such guidance must also be provided for demos and planning stages, with necessary clarifications so the development team can deliver cutting-edge work without errors.
- Measuring product success and continuous improvement
Constant monitoring and evaluation of the progress and impact of the product also fall under product owner roles and responsibilities. Through each iteration of the product development system, the product owner should collect feedback from the reviews and modify the product backlog according to the recommendation of the concerned parties. Consequently, they have to provide the development team with the necessary solutions to make the required changes in the product specifications.
Skills and Qualifications of a Product Owner
To be fit for the product owner job, a professional must possess three skills — soft, hard and technical.
- Excellent communication and empathy are highly sought-after soft skills. One must communicate well to convey the product vision and other important messages to the stakeholders and the development team. Moreover, empathy for the development team is essential, as they may often face hurdles in fulfilling the product vision.
- Analytical skills like assessing product requirements and analysing business-related decisions are essential hard skills. Apart from this, expertise in the core domain of the industry in which the product owner works is also vital.
- Product owners and business experts must master technical skills like Object Orientation, software development approaches such as Agile SDLC and analytical tools like Google Analytics to fulfil the product owner role.
Qualifications – A typical product owner job description requires the eligible candidate to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering, product development or information systems.
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Career Opportunities and Salary for Product Owners in 2023
The demand for a Scrum product owner is at an all-time high in industries which adopt rapidly evolving technologies. Some of the job roles available for product owners are as follows:
Senior Product Owner
A senior product owner’s job description implies more authority than a product owner. Some companies may work on multiple distinctive products, each managed by an individual product owner. The senior product owner will oversee all the product owners working on different products.
Another advanced role suitable for the product owner is a role that is already delineated in the Scrum framework, thus making it easier for product owners to procure this role. As a Scrum Master, an individual has to fulfil primarily three responsibilities — managing the Scrum team, collaborating with the product owner as an advisor and a guide, and educating and guiding the stakeholders as part of their organisational tasks.
The role of a product portfolio manager is to manage not one but multiple products at the same time. In large corporations, where the employees handle multiple software, services or versions of a product, a portfolio manager collates these products into a portfolio.
While the salary of a product owner varies across the world depending upon the country, in India, the average is Rs.7 lakhs per year.
The level of seniority in the career of the product owner is also a significant factor in deciding their salary. For instance, in India, product owners with less than four years of experience may get an average yearly salary of approximately Rs.3 lakhs, while professionals with 14-15 years of experience can get as much as Rs.30.3 lakhs on average per year.
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Having a product owner on board is vital for a company to launch its product in today’s competitive market successfully. Not only do the product owners increase the product’s value by prioritising work diligently and punctually, but they also ensure that the team members are dedicated to the product vision, thus leading to utmost customer satisfaction.
If you want to navigate the career prospects of being a product owner, sign up for Management Essentials Programme from upGrad.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an activity of the product owner in the Scrum framework that’s considered critical?
The Scrum product owner must ensure that the product backlog is implemented to achieve maximum value and customer satisfaction from the developed project.
Enumerate the three pillars of product ownership.
The three foundational pillars of a successful product owner are engagement, decision-making and value emphasis. Maximising product value, engaging with the development team to stay updated on the product progress and deciding the most effective way of managing the product backlog are the primary duties the job role entails.
Describe the difference between a product manager and a product owner.
The differences between product managers and product owners are based on product vision and management of resources. While a product owner represents the customer's needs in product vision, a product manager represents the stakeholders and sponsors. Furthermore, the product owner has to maintain only the outline or the product backlog, while the product manager has to supervise every small product detail.