April 19, 2018
Top 10 skills you need to master to become a successful product owner
dige
What does it mean to be a good Product Owner? This question is asked by many people who have contact with product development in their daily work. Certainly, getting a clear answer is not easy. The role of the product owner is complex. He should have a clear vision of the product strategy, understands the market needs well and confronts them with the team’s capabilities. What qualities should the product owner have in order to successfully carry out the tasks entrusted to him? You can find the answer to this question in this article.

Who is the PO?

The main tasks of the Product Owner include:

  • maximizing the value of the product,
  • product backlog management,
  • creating user stories,
  • cooperating with stakeholders and the Scrum team.

 

The product manager is someone like a super hero. What skills should he have? Good Product Owners are:

1. Visionary

Great Product Owner “speaks” the voice of customers and can create visions of the products together with the stakeholders. Every decision he makes is directed to the best preparation of the product for the market launch. Thanks to this skill, the product manager guarantees sustainable product development, ensures transparency for the development team and definitely increases the chances of product success.The Product Owner needs to know the answers to the following product questions:

  • Who will want to buy the product?
  • What customer needs the product will satisfy?
  • Which product features are necessary to meet the needs of customers?
  • How will the product look and function?
  • What distinguishes a given product on the market and encourages customers to buy?
  • What business model to choose?

If PO is a type of visionary who can predict who looks at the project in a global and long-term
way, he will certainly know the answers to the above questions.

2. Decision maker

This is the skill that other team members expect from the product manager. Decisiveness is crucial when working on a product. There is nothing worse than the lack of clear guidelines for the next stages of work. Thanks to this skill, the product owner not only builds his position in the team, but also ensures smoothness in the implementation of individual sprints.Of course, failure is related with making decisions. Not every decision is accurate. Working in an agile environment greatly facilitates the work of the product owner. If he has the ability to make decisions, he should constantly inspect and adapt the chosen course of action.

3. Problem Solver

The Product Owner must have the ability to distance from the problem, perceive it from different points of view, analyze it thoroughly, choose the best solution and implement it. It is also important to be able to draw the conclusions for the future to prevent similar situations in the future. This skill is correlated with having analytical and the negotiation skills.Many conflict situations may occur during work on creating a product. Each team member is assigned other tasks and other priorities. Together, however, they form a team that needs to function efficiently. Every product owner should have the ability to get involved when things get embarrassing. He must cooperate to reduce negative emotions and be an excellent arbiter.

4. Communication

Communicativeness is, according to the common definition, the ability to express clearly and precisely – in speech and writing, the ability to understand the statements of others, the ability to listen and communicate with other people. It sounds simple, but if you think about the quality of our everyday conversations – full of mental shortcuts, colloquialisms or slang, having this skill gains importance.PO should have good communication skills in order to discuss ideas and plan with the team. The communication skills also provide a better way of delivering messages to the clients, the teams and the stakeholders. Sharing the ideas is just as important as listening to the opinions of the others.

5. Strategic

The product owner is not only a “messenger” who does everything that the stakeholders intend to say. PO must also have the ability to process information – discover hidden needs that even the customer or user could not imagine.The ability to think strategically and to look at a project globally is the essential qualities of anyone who wants to be a successful product owner. Thanks to this ability, PO can:

  • estimate the value of the product and the target market,
  • define the key functions of the product,
  • set business goals,
  • create the roadmap of the product within the next six to twelve months.

Remember that the devil is in the details. Being a strategist also means the ability to pay attention to details – remembers to write user stories and keep the product backlog up to date.

6. Storyteller

A product is not just an idea, another website or an application. It’s more than a list of functionalities. The product should provide experience that adds value to the recipient’s life by meeting his or her needs. Who identifies these values in the process of a product development? Once the stakeholders identify the idea, who in the company really is responsible for the product and user experience? Certainly, one of these people is PO. A good PO must have the skill of developing a “product story” – identifying people and creating a product around specific values that it should offer to consumers.Once upon a time there was a product owner who … Stop, this is not the story. Storytelling in the case of PO presents not his history, but the history of the product. Before the developer writes a line of code, or the marketer plans a promotional campaign, and the designer creates a model of the product, the PO must know the history that the product will say. The ability to transfer colored descriptions to the product functionality is difficult. However, it is definitely worth sacrificing time and attention. As a Product Owner think about what will transform story into a product feature that delights the end user. Agile storytelling allows focusing on high value features.

7. Speak technical language

The ideal product owner is a person who perfectly understands the market, product, company and all the related limitations. He must also understand technical background, at least basic functions and possibilities. This knowledge helps PO make the right
decisions about products. It also helps to understand the work and capabilities of the development team and the challenges that team members face during product development life cycle. It also helps to understand the work and capabilities of the team of programmers and the challenges that team members face when designing, programming and testing the product. Technical knowledge is also necessary in dealing with the stakeholders and the clients. During meetings, the question is often asked – can it be done in this way? If PO doesn’t have technical knowledge, although basic, he will not be able to answer one of the key question.

8. Planner

Product Owner is responsible for Product Backlog, cooperation with the development team and the stakeholders, and also for forecasting. That’s a lot of work and that’s why planning skills are very important for the product owner. A poor schedule can have a negative impact on the work of the entire team. Fortunately, there are many tools and techniques that help PO tracks the progress, manage the expectations, and inform the Scrum team. For example: The Product Backlog must be prepared before the Sprint Planning Meeting, every user story must be prioritized – which user’s story is # 1 and which is # 2. Planning tasks will fail without planning skills. In the world of software, nothing is permanent and that is why it is so important that the Product Owner is constantly watching over the progress of work.

9. Enthusiastic

Success expert, Richard St. John, in over a ten-year period, interviewed more than 500 professionals, to identify what he called “success factors”. Do you know what three features emerged from his research? Passion, hard work and laser sharp focus. How should it be interpreted? Enthusiastic attitude, commitment, dedication is something that compels us to work hard. Often, these features are more important than education and certificates. To succeed, enthusiasm is at the top of the list. This approach also works for the product owner. Optimistic attitude, taking pleasure from own work builds a positive aura around the PO. Enthusiasm makes the PO not discouraged easily during the crisis. He still likes to work, even when he encounters difficulties. This helps in the effective organization of the work – it is easier to overcome obstacles and challenges, focusing on your tasks. Enthusiasm is contagious. Over time, the team is influenced by the passion of their colleagues. One enthusiastic person can completely change the atmosphere in the workplace to positive, exciting and dynamic.

10. Assertive

Being a product owner is a demanding job. PO has to communicate well, be a strategist, build a positive atmosphere in the team, understand the market needs, the stakeholder and the customers as well. If the product owner has a vision of its product and really believes that the functionality will be beneficial for the customers and that it is a profitable investment for the company, he will do everything to make it happen. Assertiveness helps to inspire others and maintain energy to overcome the obstacles encountered. Assertiveness is also the ability to communicate on the basis of values. Product owner must seek opportunities to make the product even better and create more value for the customers and the users, as well as for the business. A proactive approach means that the product owner must be able to say “NO” when working on the project that goes the wrong way and must be able to say a firm “YES” when the team is waiting for the decision and move on to the next stage of work.

Summary

Is it possible to have all of these skills by one person at all? Certainly yes, although rather difficult and requires many years of practical experience. The product owner must be a good planner and be enthusiastic about his work. In this way, he will build authority among the other employees and contribute to the integration of the entire team. We know that a sense of community helps build lasting relationships. As a result, it is possible to deliver high quality products to the market. The role of a product owner requires a person with specific skills and traits, including accessibility, business skills, communication and analytical skills. The best product owners are those who show commitment, doing everything that is necessary to build the best product – which means active involvement in the work of the team. PO must understand the market, customer and company to make sensible decisions. It is very important that the product owner has the ability to create a vision of what he wants to build, and thanks to highly developed communication skills, he passes these visions to the team. This is the key to successfully launching any agile development project.

About the author

dige

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