Product Owner Job Description

by StarAgile

October 31, 2019
Category Agile and Scrum


I am sure you are all puzzled to look at the topic for this blog. You even wonder if I am a recruiter and posting job descriptions. You are right and wrong. I am not a recruiter but going to post a job description. There is a catch and you know what? I am not going to post a typical JD with so many jargons to make the job applicant feel humiliated. No offense on a recruiter though. I am going to explain to you about the roles and responsibilities of a key stakeholder in agile and scrum projects. 

The title of this blog has already revealed that stakeholder and I need to give you an intro to this person. We are all aware that he/she is the backbone of the project. Whether you are entering into agile projects or you already have experience doesn’t matter. You may aspire to grow in your organization and then you must know about this person. This key person does so much for product development. Let us understand this person’s role and contribution to the project. 

We will start building from scratch to give you a clear picture of this person. 

What is a product owner?

First things first, so get to know about this person both technically and in layman’s term. Why do we call this role as product owner? Why not a product leader or a manager?  Before we move forward I would prefer to refer this person as a PO in our blog as they are addressed by in the IT world. 

A leader is a person who efficiently leads the team towards a goal. On the other hand a manager is a person who manages resources including people well to deliver the goal of an organization. But, a PO is both the leader and the manager who owns the product to be designed, developed and delivered. I would like to let you know that in layman terms, owning is possessing and that comes with lot of personal touches. PO is a person who owns and never compromises on the quality and hence we have designated this person as an owner but neither as a manager or leader. However, you must know that a PO is both a manager, leader and much more. 

Technically, PO is the person who is accountable for the product and makes decision about what needs to be developed. They ensure every feature of the product to be released is on the first cut defined clearly with the team. In complex terms, a PO is the value maximizer who works toward maximizing the product value given by the client by working closely with the team to achieve the business goal. 

Product owner requirements and qualifications

Product owner requirements and qualifications

Data reference – Payscale.com 


  • The basic requirement for becoming a PO is previous work experience. However, this varies depending on the position one applies to a company. The development path of PO is as follows. Junior  Regular  Senior  Expert. In case, you have qualification from a premier institute you stand a better chance to find a PO job at the entry-level. 
  • Again qualification varies from company to company, it could either demand engineering or a master in computer science or a bachelor's in information technology degree to suffice. There is no hard and fast rule about the qualification. The qualification might help you get paid in the beginning which you can find in lacs/annum based on the qualification in the above image. Later when you move up the career ladder it is not your qualification but your experience and performance matters. 
  • Agile process, principle knowledge is a must. 
  • Communication and presentation skill with some leadership quality is required. The most important skill would be time management. 
  • Must think out of the box, and given attention to details. 
  • Have problem-solving and analytical skroleills. 

I know these are printed on the product owner job description. Every JD does have all these requirements. So let us not really stop here and come we shall move forward to understand the actual roles and responsibilities of a PO to evaluate if we fit in the bill to play the role of PO. 

Product Owner Certification

Top 10 Roles and Responsibilities of the PO

  1. Must be an able scrum team leader 
  2. Provide direction and vision to the development team and handhold them right from the requirement gathering phase till project delivery 
  3. Prioritize and plan product backlog to ensure timely completion of work during every sprint meeting 
  4. Make an assessment of values to develop cases. Also, to prioritize the stories, themes, and epics to make the team focus on the product strategy. 
  5. Offer user story elaboration, plan and manage iteration and backlogs. 
  6. Work in hand with the product management team to maintain/create product backlog
  7. Understand the business goal and add value to achieve the best ROI
  8. Set expectations on delivering new functionalities by leading the product release plans 
  9. Closely work with the team and the client to successfully accomplish the sprint plan and ultimately the release goals. 
  10. Understand the market and the end-users to create the right road map for the product. 

Also, the product owners roles and responsibilities do not stop with the 10 but must keep abreast of the best practices and upcoming agile and scrum trends to succeed. 

Technical Product Owner Job Description

So far we discussed agile product owner job description. There is additionally a need for a technical product owner in few projects. This person requires unique skill sets apart from having hands-on experience in agile projects. As the name implies he/she must have technical knowledge in strategic conversion of the product. 

Combined with the above 10 responsibilities a technical product owner must be able to talk technically with the development team as well as educate customer in nontechnical language. Technical PO should act as a bridge between the technical team and the customer. 

Must to do - 4 duties of a PO 

Responsibilities Product Owner

 Apart from the listed many duties which are not just specific to PO in an agile team and are little generic as well. Hence I would like to throw some light on 4 most specific duties of a PO across all levels namely junior, regular, senior, and expert. 

1.Defining the vision

Visualizing the vision is the first step in product development. A PO must correctly visualize defining the vision. It is because the PO is the person who bridges the gap between the end-user and the internal team. Therefore PO must define the vision as it is expected by the user to communicate the same to the team. 

2.Prioritizing needs  

Ok, once the vision is clearly defined, it is important to start the work, but before that prioritize the work for effective results. Especially a PO must know how to prioritize the product backlog and maximize the outcome. Every sprint meeting must discuss sprint planS and there the PO must plan about the backlog item and its priority. 

3.Overseeing development stages

After the vision is defined, needs are prioritized, then comes the development work. Work in progress must be monitored by the PO at every stage to understand the status. Also, if the PO closely works with the team then seeking clarification will be easy and hence the delay can be reduced. I would suggest a PO be part of daily scrum to fix all issues then and there.

4.Evaluating product progress at each iteration

Finally, evaluation of the progress in product development must be checked during every sprint meeting. This will effectively help in not just the release of the product on time but save time and cost as well. PO can check and reprioritize stories to drive the team towards the end goal. 

How to become a Product Owner?

After we have understood the role, qualification, requirement, and duties of a PO, now we must already feel like becoming one. Am I correct? Then let me tell you how to become a PO. 

Beyond education, duties, and experience follow these simple steps in your daily agile project and scrum meetings to qualify for a PO. 

  • Be modest – do not take decisions with your gut feeling but do research, and collect numbers. The backlog items number must be updated to plan the roadmap ahead. 
  • Be diplomatic – With the backlog number, prioritize needs and also learn to say ‘no’ when something is really not to be done.
  • Be introspective – Don’t give up and ask yourself why it failed during every meeting to make a fresh plan and move forward.  

Above all, resolve conflicts and learn to escalate when required and your end goal should be to deliver product per user need. You cannot become a PO overnight but practice these skills within your team in all projects you take part irrespective of you being a developer or any other in your team. Soon you can become a PO to make your dream come true with these qualities built. 

What challenges does a Product Owner come across?

Let us assume you have now become a PO. Life is not a bed of roses and we would want to highlight the challenges faced by the PO to prepare you in that arena as well. 

  • Lack of proper road map – Most of the time failure happens due to lack of a clear road map. PO is the first person who gets stuck in this case and we suggest you develop a road map before you start with anything else. Do thorough market research; know the industry standards, and best practices to build the road map. Just do not create one based on the product feature. 
  • User stories do not have equal values – The second challenge is the user story and their values. Few of them work but others don’t, here you must define a process and prioritize the backlog items. Understand the user story usage volume and then assign value to each user story. After assigning value rank them based on the value so that the scrum team will put in the right efforts starting from the most valued item. 

Conclusion 

Experience is the primary requirement for a PO. But, it is understood that gaining practical experience can happen only when someone finds a job as a PO. It is more like a chicken egg story. Companies look for experienced professionals to hire and individuals look for a job to earn experience. 

You can find a solution to this ever-growing challenge in the job market by applying for a certified scrum product owner course. We are glad that you know the reasons to do CSPO certification. Don’t wait and just take the first step towards your successful journey in career as a product owner. 


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