5 Skills that Distinguish Great Product Owners
In contrast to the traditional project management methods, Scrum doesn’t have classical roles of a product manager, project manager, and so on. A typical Scrum team has only three roles – Product Owner, Scrum Master and Development team. In this article, we’ll define what it takes to be a truly great product owner.
The product owner is responsible for the vision of a product, control over the budget and the ROI. The PO is also accountable for gathering user stories, prioritising them in the product backlog and checking the intermediate product after each sprint to make sure the team has created the desired software that meets all requirements.
In short, the PO is the person accountable for all the business aspects of the project and for the success of the product delivered by the team. To be able to deal effectively with management, marketing and build rapport with all project stakeholders, the product owner should possess a number of skills that distinguish a really great PO from just a mediocre one.
#1. Great PO goes beyond customer expectations
As a great product owner, you should not only listen to what your customer is saying and add it to the product backlog. Of course, you should consider the customer requirements. But if you’re able to analyse and discover ‘latent’ needs that your customer hasn’t even imagined, this takes your PO skills to the next level.
#2. Great PO ‘tells’ user stories
Great POs think beyond ordinary user stories. Instead of just mechanically adding a user story to the backlog and handing it over to developers, they think carefully how this particular story can be transformed into a product feature that will delight the customer and end-users.
#3. Great PO is not afraid to delegate
The PO holds lots of responsibilities, and it’s almost impossible to manage everything alone. Great POs are not afraid to delegate, and often create an informal team or parallel roles to help them (e.g. the role of a technical product owner who will be responsible for technical specifications and the development life cycle from start to finish).
#4. Great PO masters conflict management
Product development is inherently filled with conflicts, so if you can’t handle them, you’ve picked the wrong project role. Great POs know how to stay calm and collaborative if the situation escalates, and do their best to minimise negative consequences.
#5. Great PO knows how to balance interests of all stakeholders
Great POs are not afraid to speak up if stakeholders set conflicting goals. For example, when two stakeholders set the same team different goals that don’t align well with each other. As a PO, you should be able to sort the things out, still considering the team’s interests and satisfying multiple stakeholders. This requires deep business knowledge and good technical understanding that are must-haves for any great product owner.