Key Responsibilities of a Product Owner
March 16, 2023
More and more startup founders are choosing Agile as their primary approach to project management. The agile principle implies constant communication with the product owner (PO). Coordination and discussion only happen once before the start of the project but continuously throughout the sprint. As a result, the product owner becomes a full Scrum team member.
To keep the development process from being chaotic, the product owner must be involved. The product owner determines what the product will look like today, tomorrow, in a month, or a year from now.
The product owner’s competencies should include an understanding of the project area, the ability to lead marketing, and product development, an awareness of how to talk to customers, and more. I will now detail at least the primary responsibilities of a product owner.
It all starts with an idea. The founder must understand the purpose of the product and what customer problems it solves. This becomes the basis of any decision you make.
Therefore, goal setting is also up to the founder acting as the PO. They must understand the definition of product success, set the appropriate metrics, and follow them. Otherwise, the road to success will be endless and unknowable.
Not many people do their work out of a sense of altruism. Even if you have a solid budget for a project, you can only fund it for a while – scalability will suffer. That’s why the PO has to determine how the product will pay for itself. When a project generates revenue, it’s easy to reinvest and scale quickly.
Defining the Product Vision and Business Requirements
A competent PO is a guarantee that the team implements what is expected. An Agile team doesn’t interact directly with investors and users but deals with implementation – bringing ideas to life.
This means that the role of the product owner involves taking responsibility for the project roadmap. This document shows how the project will look and function at each stage. It works for short-term and long-term project plans.
But a roadmap is not a panacea. You should rely on something other than planning, especially when it comes to startups. People invented Agile to escape evil, not create new things.
PO has to be willing to change the plan, sometimes even ultimately. We live in a fast-paced world where long-term planning makes little sense, and it shouldn’t take too much time early on.
Of course, the backlog is usually maintained by the whole team. However, epics and user stories are suggested and created by the PO. The product owner decides if and when the functionality will be implemented.
Development resources are usually costly. In addition, the PO must remember that aids burn out all the time. Universal advice: start small and never develop less essential features before the most important ones.
When planning feature releases, start small and always develop more critical features before the most important ones.
This point is always greatly underestimated. You may start project development with unnecessarily complex check-in functionality. While the money is burning, your product still has no value.
The Agile methodology assumes an applicable increment in every sprint. The team can increment without a PO. However, they are not responsible for using that increment by the end users. Thus, the product owner has exclusive power in deciding the scope of work.
This point is derived from the previous one. Resources must be put to good use. This requires the PO to vet ideas, examine them critically, and determine their value to the project. Skip the ones that have no value and focus on the useful ones.
Thus, for the process to be successful, the PO must synchronize their vision with external circumstances. Agile product owners focus on what the development team needs to achieve by the next iteration. There are many measuring methods – POs can rely on either theory and logic or an empirical approach.
To reduce the risk of unnecessary costs, PO focuses on vetting ideas before they are developed. Product owners conduct market research, competitor analysis, and customer outreach to understand what will benefit and what won’t. While it is possible to delegate some minor tasks, the overall process is better left to the PO.
Although it is possible to delegate some minor tasks, the product owner does market research and competitor analysis.
Following simple logic, budgeting belongs to the product owner because they are responsible for the volume. First, we need to evaluate the project and assess the risks. And only after that can we make data-driven decisions about what developers will implement within the budget.
We (along with the client) can either increase it or decrease it if resources are limited. Always be careful about the second way. Even if you estimate everything very carefully, there are still some risks of going over budget. A good PO should always consider this, especially if they are working with startups that need more resources.
If the budget is limited, you can increase or reduce the scope of work. However, by following the second route, there is still a risk of exceeding the limit given.
The PO should always know how much each feature will take out of pocket before beginning work on each part. The PO always decides to fund or not fund a given element.
Therefore, the development team and analysts, in particular, must continually evaluate all tasks and improve the evaluation process. Otherwise, the PO will take on additional risks.
Many positions besides developers are responsible for project success. Marketing, customer support, and other departments should not be forgotten. The PO doesn’t have to do it all alone. But there should be a clear vision between different executives.
They constantly provide feedback, take care of related parts of the business together, and prevent misunderstandings.
At Bragona Technologies, we work with product owners from around the world. By fulfilling their responsibilities, Product Owners also increase the return of investment and, hence, play an integral part in product development and become essential for the company’s growth. Contact us for more information about our processes and vision.