It used to be that only technology organizations had to contend with using, owning, and managing technology products. In today’s digital-first world, whether you’re B2B or B2C, a humble florist, or a global conglomerate, you will rely on at least one technology, tool, or software to keep things running.
When it comes to software, good products usually mean happy customers. Whether they improve customer efficiency, satisfaction or revenue – or, ideally, all of the above – good products need great Product Owners. Product Owners, not to be confused with Product Managers, are essential in championing the customer and ensuring the product is adjusted and improved to satisfy their needs.
Product Owners vs. Product Managers
Depending on their goals, budget, size, and more, organizations will choose whether to have a Product Owner or a Product Manager. In lots of cases they’ll have both, in some cases they’ll have neither, and occasionally they’ll hire one person to take on both roles.
A Product Owner takes full responsibility for a software product, taking it upon themselves to get as much value from it as possible to support the efforts of the Development Team. They typically work as part of a Scrum team, where they spend their time managing and optimizing the product backlog.
For the uninitiated, Scrum is a commonly used framework that fits into the Agile project management methodology. Scrum breaks down the entire product lifecycle into manageable chunks that can be achieved process by process. Each chunk is then completed in a sprint – a short, sharp period of complete focus. Once that’s done, they move on to the next sprint, repeating the process as necessary.
Scrum teams, which usually include a Scrum Master, a Product Owner, and a bunch of developers, are ever-evolving. They need to be cross-functional, self-motivated, and able to work like a well-oiled machine for intense sprint periods. As part of the Scrum team, the Product Owner needs to balance the needs of the customer and the efforts of the team to make sure the product is best serving the customer.
Product Managers, on the other hand, are more focussed on managing the ongoing development of a product in line with the needs of the customer and the objectives of the organization.
Unlike Product Owners, Product Managers don’t follow a specific framework. Their expertise allows them to streamline and manage product development across a range of frameworks, be it Scrum, Kanban, or Six Sigma. You name it, they’ll manage it.
The top three Product Owner responsibilities
Product Owners rely on a broad range of skills, experience, and knowledge to champion the product. They need to be a kick-ass communicator and a team player, with plenty of business sense as they engage with everyone from external stakeholders to internal management and a pic n’ mix of different departments. Ultimately, they need to:
Act as the voice of the customer
A Product Owner knows what their customers need and how their Development Teams work, and it’s their responsibility to act as the middleman between the two. They hear what the customer says and communicate their wants and needs to their team so that appropriate updates and fixes can be applied. When they do this successfully, a product will continue to amaze its users.
Ensure the product meets a quality standard
Not only are Product Owners responsible for combining the customers’ wants with the devs’ output, they’re also responsible for making sure that output is of the highest quality. That means they need to work closely with their team at every stage of the product lifecycle, taking it upon themselves to set and reach that gold standard their customers deserve.
Be the driving force of the Development Team
For any of the above to work, the Development Team has to be firing on all cylinders. And for that to happen, they’re going to need an almighty push from the Product Owner. It’s their job to organize, manage and drive the Development Team to make the customer’s dreams a reality. Without a great Product Owner there’s no great Development Team, and without that, there’s no chance of a great product.
Success for Product Owners
If you’ve read this far and find yourself wondering what a successful Product Owner looks like in action, look no further than Starrez. With the help of Appmixer, Starrez’s Product Owner was able to significantly cut down on development time, speed up and simplify customer integrations, and enable its Professional Services Team to solve any customer queries with ease. Not bad, eh?
You can read more about how Starrez automated its clients’ complex business processes with the help of Appmixer and a great Product Owner here, or you can take advantage of our free trial to help you achieve similar success.