What is a Product Owner?

What is a product owner?

Before we tell you what exactly a product owner is, we will first explain a few important concepts. Firstly, agile software development is a term for various software development methods. The popularity of the scrum method has increased greatly in recent years. With this method, a team delivers projects in a productive and creative manner. Because this method is so widely used, in this article we mainly talk about a scrum product owner.

A scrum team consists of three clear roles: the developer, the scrum master and the product owner. These roles are not organized hierarchically. As a product owner you are a kind of project manager of a software product, such as a website or computer program. How do you make the product as valuable as possible for the end user? That is your main focus within this position. You pass on the customer's wishes to the developers.

The developers are then responsible for delivering work. Usually the developers are each specialized in a different field and they work together on an assignment to carry it out successfully. The product owner therefore gives the development team complete freedom in how they realize the project. The final role is the scrum master. This motivates the team and removes blockages so that it is possible to work unhindered. By working together as a scrum team, projects are tackled efficiently.

When you think of a job as a product owner, do you also immediately think of a product manager? That could be right. You do not officially encounter this role in agile or scrum, but a product manager is sometimes also active in the development process of a product. In that case, the product owner and product manager work together. However, there are a few differences between these functions. The main difference is that the role of product manager is broader. In this position you will also address logistics, financial and marketing-related issues.

You already know that a product owner is responsible for the development of a successful software product. This could, for example, be a computer program or website. You do this by passing on the client's wishes to the rest of the team, which consists of the developers and the scrum master. But how does the product owner do this? And what are the precise tasks and responsibilities of a product owner? We will now discuss this further.

You and your team tackle projects in short sprints. So you always deliver a partial product or an improvement on a specific product. As a product owner you represent the internal and external parties involved in a project. So you work closely together and maintain constant contact with the various parties. This way you stay well informed of the customer's wishes and pass them on to the developers. You don't just do that, but by managing a product backlog. You put the most important wishes at the top. You briefly describe the items on the list in the form of user stories. For example, it looks like this:

As a (customer) I want (description of the product) so that I can (describe why it should be made).

In addition to these activities, the product owner is also concerned with the quality of the product or sub-product. To do this, you create a vision of the end product, which is called the product goal. To form this vision, you keep an eye on all developments within the market. You share your insights about this with your team members, for example during sprint planning. At the end of the sprint, invite all parties for a sprint review. During such a review you demonstrate all completed user stories. You then use the feedback you receive from this in the next sprint. That is why a product owner also spends part of his time providing feedback.