The product owner is a key role in Scrum. But many organisations struggle to effectively apply it. This post wants to help you get it right by providing a concise overview of what it means to be the product owner.
As the name suggests, a product owner should own the product on behalf of the company. The individual is responsible for ensuring that a product creates value for its customers and users as well as the company providing it. You can think of the product owner as the person who champions the product, who facilitates the product decisions, and who has the final say about the product. I like to think of the product owner as an agile product manager, someone who looks after a product for an extended period of time and is responsible for achieving product success.
To fulfill this responsbilibity, a product owner has to connect with the users, collaborate with the development team, and understand how the company works. As the product owner, you should directly interact with the customers and users, the development team, and other key stakeholders, as the picture below shows.
I have circled the Scrum team, the unit consisting of product owner, ScrumMaster and development team in the picture above to indicate that the product owner should have a close and trustful relationship with the other Scrum team members: Scrum views the product owner as part of the wider Scrum team. This makes sense, as great products emerge when the product owner takes her market and business knowledge and collaborates with the development team.
In order to succeed, product owners require the right skillset: leadership, startegic, and tactical skills, as the following picture illustrates.
Leadership skills include empathy, vision, communication, decision-making, stakeholder management, and product ethics; strategic skills include product strategy and product roadmap, business model and financial forecast, KPIs, market research and validation, and product discovery; tactical skills, finally, include product backlog prioritisation and management, personas, user stories, product validation techniques, and technical understanding.
For more information, download my Product Owner Guide, a comprehensive yet concise summary of the role—just click on the image below: