The Product Owner: Understanding the Role and Responsibilities

Product manager and product owner-people often use these terms interchangeably, but there are differences between the two. Today, we’ll look at the roles and responsibilities of a product owner. This will help us compare the role to that of the product manager and to clarify the differences between the two.

So, what is a product owner? A product owner is someone who’s responsible for a product’s vision and for guiding the team to make that vision a reality. Furthermore, experienced and skilled product owners manage and prioritize a project’s technical requirements. They also mediate between the team and the client to ensure that these technical requirements are implemented.

This post will bring more understanding to the role and responsibilities of a product owner. Furthermore, we’ll discuss the requirements and qualifications needed to become a product owner, the differences between a product manager and product owner, the challenges facing product owners, and the future of the role.

The Product Owner’s Role

There are three distinct roles in every scrum team: the product owner, the scrum master, and the development team. The product owner is the center of product development. He or she must make decisions that maximize value.

In a scrum team, the product owner looks in two directions at the same time-at the market and at the product development:

  • External view-the market direction. Product owners must understand stakeholders’ and customers’ needs so they can act as their voice. At this moment, the product owner takes on the role of a product manager and ensures that the right solution is developed.
  • Internal view-the product development direction. Product owners are in constant communication with the development team, take their input into account, and prioritize the requirements. They specify test and acceptance criteria and verify these using the product increment.

Therefore, the product owner is a really important position between business processes. Next, let’s have a look at the responsibilities that the product owner assumes.

The Product Owner’s Responsibilities

Develop the Product Vision

Manage the Product Backlog

The most important ideas are always at the top of the list because they deliver the most significant value for the end user. A good description of the product backlog items ensures that the project team understands and can process them.

The product backlog is the place where all requirements for the product are collected and managed. The product owner is in charge of this document and is therefore responsible for maintaining and monitoring it. Furthermore, the product owner creates a list of technical requirements and formulates these clearly and understandably so that everyone involved knows about the requirements.

The details of the product backlog are written in the “user story” format. User stories don’t require an exhaustive specification of the “upfront” solution. Instead, they stimulate fluid and enriching dialogue between those involved during product development. User stories reflect a user need, a product description, a mechanism to defer a conversation, and a planning item. During the product discovery and definition process, the need for various levels of granularity may arise that are closely tied to the size and scale of a detail of what we define. Thus, a hierarchy emerges that facilitates the work with the requirements.

Define Acceptance Criteria

Prioritize Needs

Manage Development Stages

Monitor Progress

For an extra hand, product owners can use Plutora to track the overall progress of product features and releases from idea to delivery in real time.

Act as the Primary Liaison

Anticipate Client Needs

Skills Needed to Become a Product Owner

I hope to shed some light with the following list of the hard and soft skills required to be a product owner, beyond experience:

Good Communication

Problem Solving

Customer-to-Product Translator

Technical Knowledge

Domain Knowledge

Requirements and Qualifications

After completing these prerequisites, you must take a live Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). Most classes start with a short quiz to confirm that you’re familiar with scrum principles and are therefore ready to meet the challenges presented in the course.

To develop your skills, you can become an advanced certified scrum product owner or a certified professional scrum product owner. Here are some organizations that offer scrum product owner certifications:

  • Scrum Alliance
  • Scrum Inc
  • 280 Group
  • Project Management Institute
  • Simplilearn Solutions

Differences Between the Product Owner and the Project Manager

In some organizations, the product owner iѕ аn agile project manager who’s responsible fоr the рrоjесt’ѕ ѕuссеѕѕ. In other cases, the scrum master is an agile project manager who’s accountable for task definition and prioritization.

The most definite way to distinguish these two roles is by saying that the product owner represents the products’ voice and the product manаgеr represents the customer’s voice.

Thе mаin diffеrеnсе between a product owner and a project manager can also be viewed in terms of their mindѕеt when solving problems. The business owner’s role is to get the most value from product development with the available funds, whereas the project manager’s role is to deliver the best business result with available resources.

Another difference is that the product owner and project manager communicate with different stakeholders.

Product owners ensure that internаl and external influencers support upcoming products or functions. They’re the primary liaison between the product development team and the company’s stakeholders. If the upcoming product is rejected, the product owner muѕt send this description back to the developer for review. After careful review, the product owner must return to the stakeholders for approval.

Product managers work more internally than product owners. They work closely with the development team to ensure that products are completed on time.

Can a product manager be a product owner?

If you’re a product manager making the shift to a product owner role, Plutora can help you with your new responsibilities.

Challenges of Being a Product Owner

Too Many High Priorities

Changing Priorities During Sprinting

High-Level Acceptance Criteria

Plutora ‘s product management platform helps address these challenges. With their product management tool, you can break down operational silos across IT and product teams and gain end-to-end visibility of your features’ development status, change impacts, and release schedule.

The Future of a Product Owner

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