Product owner: who are they, what do they do and why are they so important?

Product owner: who are they, what do they do and why are they so important?

Claudia Roca

Apr 3, 2023

Apr 3, 2023

Apr 3, 2023

Product owner: who are they, what do they do and why are they so important?
Product owner: who are they, what do they do and why are they so important?
Product owner: who are they, what do they do and why are they so important?

Imagine you’ve just bought a piece of land and you want to create the best possible project for your family, which means that you will have to meet with different professionals to map out the way forward to build the house of your dreams. Well, this is what a product owner does: ensuring that the product has the best possible performance for the end customer. 

In this sense, a good owner develops the strategy for how the product should work, define tasks, and then they make sure that each one of them is accomplished in a specific period. 

Would you like to know more about this type of professional? Sit back and find out below

What is a product owner?

First, let's start by defining what a product owner is. It’s a role that a particular person plays, and who’s in charge of creating the best possible product for the customer, developing a complete vision of how it should work at all times. 

From here they define the features and transform them into to-dos that must be completed before the item is delivered to the market. 

In this sense, a product owner works as a liaison between multiple business stakeholders, from scrum team members to end consumers. 

A Scrum team is a framework for managing different projects that allow different organizations to build faster and more efficiently and is a method used in software development and engineering. 

How does a Product Owner work?

Many people wonder how a product owner works on a day-to-day basis. The truth is that he/she has a very close relationship with the rest of the team, helping to understand how the pending tasks are linked to the product vision, thus serving as a link between all members of the organization. 

In addition, we love the fact that he/she can communicate with anyone to get accurate information about the product they are developing, from feasible changes to specific features of the item. 

Let's now take a look at a list of the activities they usually do on a day-to-day basis: 

1. Daily meetings

Let's start with daily meetings, something that is the bread and butter for the product owner. 

They usually attend daily meetings with the scrum team in order to check on the progress of the service creation and any problems that have occurred along the way. 

Once he/she gets the news they will communicate it to the rest of the organization. This is why we say that they are the link between the scrum team and the whole company. 

2. Weekly meetings

On the other hand, he/she usually meets once a week with the team to check the refinement of the product and prepare the pending tasks for the following days. 

They are really the experts in the service being created, so you as the product owner must trust the team as much as possible to make sure everything goes as planned. 

3. Sprint review

It’s advisable to schedule a meeting every so often to verify the sprint review at the end of each interval. 

Here the team shows the progress that has been made with the product, demonstrations are made and any other activity that reflects the characteristics of the service. Here we verify that the product is ready to go to market. 

5 Responsibilities of the product owner

The truth is that being a product owner is extremely exciting, but it implies a series of responsibilities that can be overwhelming if you are not mentally prepared. 

Being the nexus of all and ensuring that the product works in the best way requires a series of skills that we will develop over time. 

Let's take a look at some of the responsibilities you have on a daily basis:

1. Define the objectives of the product or service

First of all, the product owner defines the objectives of each product and from there determine the general features to meet those proposed goals. 

However, to define these features you must understand what the user's needs are and what pain points they currently have. Only then will you be able to deliver something tailored to their reality. 

If, for example, it’s an app, you can study how well the customer gets along with the platform, and see the interactions between the two to propose new improvements. 

Ah, we can't forget that as a product owner, you will have to make sure that the features are aligned with the overall objectives of the company. 

2. Specify the product features

Closely related to the previous point. The owner transforms those goals into precise product features along with the backlog for the scrum team. 

This is how the rest of the organization will focus on the details of each task to be performed and you as the owner will verify that everything fits the customer's needs. 

3. Develop user stories

On the other hand, a good owner should create user stories so that all members understand the reason behind each product feature. 

A user story is a non-technical explanation of a single product feature, being seen from the user's point of view. At the end of the day, these stories define the goals of each product, so it’s critical to keep this in mind. 

4. Manage the product backlog

Fourth, we have the responsibility of backlog refinement. Simply put, this is about managing the service backlog and prioritizing tasks based on company needs, product goals, and customer needs. 

The good news is that you don't do this alone, as you have a whole team around you. However, your presence is indispensable because you know perfectly what the vision of the product is and what you want to achieve with it. 

5. Oversee the development stages

To develop any product, it’s necessary to create a work plan. This plan is often verified by the product owner, who gives guidelines to all team members. 

This process consists of six stages, which are explained below: 

  1. Idea generation: It means brainstorming product concepts based on market research and customer needs. 

  2. Product definition: It’s the scope of the feature and execution of the value proposition. 

  3. Prototype: It’s testing the service’s concept for then focusing on the development strategy. 

  4. Initial design: It’s the first version of the product and works as a sample for the other team members. 

  5. Testing and validation: Different tests must be done so that the public sees the best version of all. 

  6. Sale: You focus on marketing the latest version of the project. 

Why the product owner is so important

There’s no doubt that the product owner plays a fundamental role in the development of any service. That’s why we see more and more companies opening vacancies in this area. 

Here’s part of the importance of this position. 

1. Defines the vision of the product

We could not start in any other way than with the vision of the product. Before thinking about creating a new service, it’s essential to define what we want to achieve with the service in question, and that’s where the owner comes in. 

The owner ensures that the product's features are aligned with the company's overall objectives. Therefore, it’s a long job that can only be done by a specialist in the field. 

2. Prioritizes stakeholder input

Group management is one of the most important jobs in the product development process. The owner defines which team to work with first to move the process forward faster. 

You will know what the product needs, so from there you will define with whom you will take the next step to achieve the proposed objectives. 

What would happen if this position did not exist? All the teams would work according to the specifications of their departments, creating a mess that would be reflected in the final product.

3. Verifies that the team follows the instructions 

It’s important to leave precise instructions on the steps to follow to reach the next phase of the product creation process. 

Earlier we gave you the stages that any service goes through before being launched to the market. Well, you as the owner have to make sure that all members follow the plan to the letter to increase the chances of success. 

4. Assumes responsibility

There’s no doubt that a product owner has a super important role in any company, they elaborate the vision of the project, collaborate so that the team understands the vision, and help everyone understand what are the objectives to be met. 

Product owner vs. product manager

Being a product owner is often confused with being a product manager. It’s true that they have many similarities, in fact, even in the name of the position they are similar, but the reality is that they have certain differences that must be taken into account. 

The first thing to take into account is that managers have a much more general function than the product owner since the latter has a precise objective within the work team. 

In this sense, some companies have the luxury of having both a product manager and an owner, which explains the importance of each. 

A product manager has a more strategic role and develops the vision according to the organization's objectives. Meanwhile, owners have a more specific role, having concrete tasks and meeting with different people to achieve the goals they set out to achieve. 

Differences between product owner and project manager

We also find companies that have both a product owner and a project manager. The truth is that they are related, but they have very distinct differences that influence the results of any product. 

In most cases, a project manager focuses on delivering tasks and managing the resources that an overall issue has. So, if a project is made up of different tasks to achieve a particular goal, the manager plans, manages, and executes each of those activities. 

Meanwhile, the product owner is practically focused on developing a single product for the end customer. That is why he/she leaves aside everything related to the day-to-day work since coordination is more closely linked to the manager. 

Both are important and complement each other perfectly. However, to avoid confusion, it’s very important that the company defines the responsibilities of each person in order to have a perfectly coordinated team. 

Final recommendations

There’s no doubt that a product owner is fundamental for any company. However, we still find companies that do not have this kind of professionalism in their staff, something that in most cases is reflected in the results of their products. 

An organization is made up of several people working hand in hand to achieve a common goal. From here, if you don't have a professional in the field, it’s very likely that the service will present tiny problems that directly affect the user experience. 

At the end of the day, your job is to make the customer happy, to make them want to repeat the purchase because of all the sensations that the product in question gives them. 

We hope that with this information you understand the importance of this position and what you have to do to fulfill your responsibilities. There’s no doubt that this is an exciting position, but one that requires taking things very seriously to achieve the goals you set for yourself. 

Are you ready to take the next step? Keep reading to see how you can become a digital marketing professional.