What Does a Product Owner Do?
By The Fullstack Academy Team
Product owners are essential in helping organizations develop goods and services in a timely fashion and ensuring that the needs of users are met. They guide a new product from the initial strategy stage through to the actual development of the product and its release to users. Product owners also are critical in serving as the point person who connects users, development staff, and other stakeholders.
Strong product development processes help organizations maximize efficiency and effectiveness. As a 2021 report in Forbes noted, organizations that have sound processes for creating new products are able to:
Foresee and mitigate potential risks associated with product development
Build the relationships necessary to develop products within a reasonable time frame
Ensure that new products will be valuable to users and that users will be willing to pay for them
One of the best things organizations can do to help ensure they are successful when developing new products is to employ a product owner. Product owners can help develop all kinds of new products, but they are particularly critical in software development, which can be complex and involve aggressive development schedules. But what does a product owner do exactly?
Individuals who are considering enrolling in an online product management bootcamp and have an interest in overseeing the product development process can benefit from exploring the product owner position.
Product Owner Role and Responsibilities
Particularly within software development fields, a product owner oversees product management to ensure that products are functional and efficient and, ultimately, meet the needs of their users.
BMC Software describes the product owner role as a management position that concentrates on creating and refining a product. In a nutshell, a product owner transforms the broad vision for a new product into achievable tasks, and then monitors and manages those tasks.
The most versatile product owners have broad insight into all aspects of their product. For example, while product owners in software development need to have information technology (IT) expertise, knowledge of other areas such as budgeting is also critical. Business and strategic planning experience may also help individuals succeed in the product owner role.
Key Responsibilities of a Product Owner
Some of the most important responsibilities of a product owner include:
Coordinating With Users to Understand Their Needs
A product owner must become an expert in the needs of users. Throughout the development process, product owners need to keep the user experience in mind.
Managing and Prioritizing Tasks in the Development Process
Product owners spend a significant amount of their time managing and prioritizing tasks in the development process. Critical elements of product ownership include selecting, prioritizing, and backlogging development tasks to ensure that resources are allocated effectively to meet management's strategic objectives.
Monitoring the Overall Development Process
Product owners are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the overall strategy for the product development process. For example, product owners help to ensure that development teams comply with established criteria for new products and any predetermined standards.
Modifying Project Plans
Product owners are charged with staying on top of factors such as changing market conditions or emerging competitors. Adjusting project plans based on those factors is one of the important duties of a product owner.
Product Owner Skills
To do their job effectively, product owners must establish working skills in the following areas, according to the employment website Indeed:
Communication. The ability to communicate successfully with individuals such as IT staff, users, and management is vital to successfully perform a product owner’s responsibilities.
Collaboration. Being able to collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders with differing perspectives helps product owners guide projects effectively.
Management. Keen management skills help product owners in everything from prioritizing tasks to addressing issues that arise during the product development process.
Project monitoring. Product owners need to be able to monitor projects so that they can evaluate progress at various stages of developing a product.
Decision-making. Because they are charged with modifying plans during the product development process, product owners can benefit from having well-developed skills in decision-making.
Leadership. Product owners need to be strong leaders who can answer questions from stakeholders, delegate tasks, and offer employees guidance and feedback.
Conflict resolution. Product development projects can involve numerous individuals with competing and sometimes conflicting priorities. Product owners who have strong conflict resolution skills can help to address disagreements that arise among various stakeholders.
Product Owner Salary and Career Path
Successfully managing the responsibilities of a product owner requires certain education and experience. For example, according to Indeed, to work as a product owner in software development, an individual would typically need to:
Earn a degree in a relevant field such as computer engineering or computer science
Gain experience in the various stages of product development and in management roles on product development projects
Consider obtaining credentials such as the Scrum Product Owner certification
One of the best things an aspiring product owner can do is attend a project management bootcamp. Project management bootcamps help individuals gain valuable expertise that they can then apply in a range of hands-on experiences. Typically shorter in duration than advanced degree programs, bootcamps focus on preparing for a specific career.
The salaries for product owners are attractive. Product owners had a median annual salary of about $90,300 as of September 2022, according to Payscale, with those in the top 10% earning about $126,000 annually.
Finding Your Place as a Product Owner
Product owners’ duties and responsibilities are central to an organization’s success and provide the basis for a rewarding profession. Developing useful products in an efficient manner is a challenging goal that talented product owners have the pleasure of accomplishing.
Individuals who are interested in working as a product owner should explore Fullstack Academy’s online Product Management Bootcamp to learn how it can help them achieve their career goals. Offering a free Intro to Product Management course and a wide variety of other courses in everything from product design to the user experience, the bootcamp could provide you with the foundation you need to advance in your career. Start working toward achieving your professional ambitions today.