The product owner is the person who is responsible for a software product on behalf of their company. The key to building a successful product is having a product owner who understands the product, the products users and their role in shaping the product for their users. In this blog I'll discuss how a influential a product owner is when building a piece of custom software.
#1: 20/20 Product Vision
A product vision helps a product owner describe their product to a development team, casting light on the target market, the user needs it is fulfilling, the key product features, and what kind of value it is creating for a product owner's company/stake holders. A Vision Board is a simple tool that can help a product owner describe their product vision. If a product owner can communicate their product vision to a team and align all of their decisions with the product vision, the product will most likely be successful.
#2: Know the User
Obviously, product owner should be equipped with industry expertise and domain knowledge for their specific market. But more importantly, a product owner should completely understand what their end users need and how the product will be fulfilling that need. It is essential for a product owner to get inside the head of their end users throughout the product development process.This helps a product owner gain feedback on what users like or don't like about their product or similar products in the market. If your product isn't fulfilling the needs of your users and differentiating itself from other products in the market, then why build the product at all?
#3: Hold the Power
A product owner has been granted permission and power from stake holders to make the executive decisions on the product direction and prioritization of the feature set. The power to make decisions that are best for the product, users, and company is placed in the product owners hands.
Great software is built by teams. Great teams need a leader. A great product owner is one who collaborates with the software development team and leads them in the development of their product. Without collaboration and communication, a team is left to make decisions on their own (which a good scrum team would never do) which could lead to a team building features that aren't necessarily useful or needed. A product owner is needed in grooming sessions, sprint reviews, and must be available when the team has a question or needs information on specific user stories or features.
#5: See the Future
Rarely products are built in one iteration. Typically, it takes feedback and tweaking in order to build the product you initially set out to build. Although the product owner should be hyper focused on the current sprint backlog and what is prioritized in the upcoming sprints, they should also have a very good understanding of where the product will be in the next iteration or product development cycle.
The agile product owner role requires a broad range of skills. In my opinion, it is also an exciting opportunity to create something new and valuable for users and your company. If you are looking to learn more about the Agile Software Development process and how a product owner fits into it, be sure to download our eBook "The Official Agile 101 Software Development Handbook."