What Does a Product Owner Do?
When it comes to data and Web Development, Product Owners are much the same way. As an “owner,” the Product Owner takes responsibility for the product backlog and for ensuring the product is in the best shape it can be. According to Scrum’s Scrum Guide, a Product Owner “is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the development team. In exchange, Product Owners often enjoy some profit sharing and a substantive pay that we’ll touch on later. For now, let’s break down what exactly it means to be a Product Owner.
The Product Owner is part of the team assigned to streamlining the production of a web application, website, or other software program. They focus on the backlog as well as stories and how those stories meet the user’s needs. They work with the Product Managers, web developers, and decision makers for the business to help maximize the value of the program being produced. Some of the responsibilities of a Product Owner include:
- Preparation of program increment (PI) planning
- Managing the backlog for the development team
- Create criteria for stories submitted by the development team
- Accepting and reviewing stories based on criteria
- Help with team training and demo
- Work within Agile, often, to streamline production
- Take the lead of Scrum teams
- Work with stakeholders to report on progress and get a sense of the business needs
- Collaborate with the development team as well as engineering
- Track the progress of the product moving towards release
- Assess and optimize value of the product
- Conduct market research to get a sense of how to best maximize product value
Product Owner vs. Product Manager
Many of the duties of a Product Owner can sound managerial, which can become confusing when you see that there are also job titles referred to as Product Manager. In fact, many aspiring Product Owners may see these listings and wonder if it’s the same thing with different wording — a Product Owner by any other name. While there may be some overlap, these jobs are distinct as well as interconnected. Let’s break down the differences, as well as how these two work with each other.
- Focuses on maximizing the value of the product
- Works with user stories — accepting them, organizing them, and adding them to the product backlog
- Uses the roadmap created by the Product Manager as a guide to ensure that everything is on track
- Focuses on the customer’s needs and communicates these to the rest of the team
- Offers feedback to the Product Manager
- Attends team meetings to get a sense of progress
- Oversees ongoing testing of the product
- Develops and prioritizes the backlog of the product
- Creates the roadmap that the Product Owner uses as a guide
- Identifies holes in the market and needs of customers
- Markets the product and works to boost sales
- Creates the budget for the product
- Develops the long-term vision for the development team
- Works with the solutions and delivery teams
- Determines the next steps to take and features to add
- Rallies and motivates the team and stakeholders to better the product
The Product Owner uses stories to get a sense of the customers’ needs and communicates these to the Product Manager and the rest of the team through the backlog. The Product Manager then analyzes these needs and decides the next steps to take to meet those needs. Then the Product Owner communicates progress to the stakeholders and other teams. These two positions are distinct, but they need each other in order to thrive. Product Owners are often referred to as the product’s representative, while the Product Managers are the customers’ representative.
Education and Background
The job of a Product Owner is in high demand, but it’s nearly impossible to become a Product Owner with just a high school education. Employers require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or some other related major first and foremost. While a master’s degree is not required, it won’t hurt on your job application and some employers do specify that they prefer a master’s degree in business administration. It’s also essential to complete Scrum Product Owner Training and become Scrum certified as many jobs require Product Owners to work within Scrum.
If you don't want to engage in long studies or if you are looking for a quick career change, a Web Development bootcamp will equip you with all skills required to succeed as a Product Owner and help you develop your network.
Nor is the position of Product Owner a particularly entry level position. Many Product Owners start out working within product management or on the development teams that they end up overseeing as Product Owners. Some employers will ask for as many as 4 years of experience or more in project development and one year in product management before going up for the position.
This time spent climbing the career ladder will help to hone your skills so that when you are able to pursue your dream career as a Product Owner, you’ll be ready.
Skills and Personality Traits of Product Owners
When you go up for a job as a Product Owner, it’s important to be sure that you have the right skills. There are languages and programs you’ll have to master as well as personality traits you’ll want to take on. To get started, here are some of the technical skills you’ll need as a Product Owner:
- Experience with data delivery and intelligence solutions
- Strong familiarity with Agile development
- Ability to work within Scrum
- Experience with backlogs and user stories
- Experience with software development, including knowledge of coding languages
But more than that, a Product Owner should have the right skills with people. After all, they work with a development and product management team as well as representing the product to stakeholders and customers. Here are some of the personality traits of a good Product Owner:
As the “voice of the product,” the Product Owner has to have excellent verbal and written communications skills, as well as the ability to communicate with various groups and in crowds.
A Product Owner should have a strong attention to detail and sense of where exactly that detail should go. They should also have great time management skills, both for themselves and the rest of the team.
A Creative, Analytical Mind
Are you a natural problem solver, always looking for creative ways to improve things or address a particular issue? Then the role of a Product Owner might be perfect for you.
A Product Owner is an essential part of a business, so it helps to have a good head for business in this job. This will also mean keeping a finger on the pulse of market trends and knowing what works for competitors.
What Is the Deal With Scrum? The Framework With the Certification
According to Scrum.org, “Scrum is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.” Here again, you can see the focus on maximizing value, which makes it a perfect help for Product Owners. Scrum is an agile framework, and it’s often considered to the standard for Product Owners. This is so much the case that many employers make job listings for “Scrum Product Owner.” Because of this, it’s absolutely essential for any Product Owner to be able to work within Scrum, and a Scrum certification can be a shoe-in for a new job.
How Much Do Product Owners Make?
There are multiple factors that can impact the pay of a position. The demand is a big one — and Web Development jobs are often in demand given the rapid growth of the digital world. Experience can also be an important factor. When it comes to Product Owners, there’s also bonuses and profit sharing to consider.
Payscale lists the average salary for a Product Owner at $82,924 in the United States. Some companies, however, will pay nearly $92,000. It also states that Product Owners enjoy an average of $6,909 every year in bonuses and over $4,000 when it comes to product sharing. It’s no wonder that job satisfaction in this career is very high, and the good news is there’s always room to grow.
Growth Potential For Product Owners
Maybe Product Owner is the next stop on your career path, but not the destination. Or maybe you’ve been a Product Owner for a few years, but now you’re thinking about making a change. The point of careers like this is to allow you to grow. While you can grow through your position, you can also make a switch to another career in the field. Here again, Payscale reports several common positions that Product Owners are promoted towards. Here are just a few, as well as average annual salaries in the United States:
- General Project Manager - $74,413
- Software Product Manager - $96,937
- Senior Product Manager - $125,384
You can opt for a career with more money or one that might be more satisfying, if you prefer to go with something more customer focused such as a product or project manager. You may even be able to move internally within your own company.
How To Get the Job - Get the Training You Need To Be an Owner
Yes, we’ve discussed education and we’ve discussed work experience that can help you to land the dream job. These are all necessary, but if you want to really wow employers when you set off on the job hunt, you can take courses to hone the skills specific to the field you want to go into. At Le Wagon, we offer intensive coding bootcamps for a reason. These bootcamps demand that those in the classes give it their all. However, if you do so, you can come out of our courses with valuable knowledge and a network of peers that you’ve found in working together with them.
Le Wagon has 41 campuses globally, not just in France but throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Our Web Development course is available in 9 weeks full-time, or in 24 weeks part-time for those who need a more flexible schedule. At these bootcamps, you’ll be able to work on a project with your contemporaries, giving you the experience to know the process and the time that it takes.
You’ll also be able to enjoy panels and courses taught by experts in between networking with others in the same place as you. These relationships are ones that you’ll be able to take with you when you leave the course, strengthening your knowledge of the industry as well as your support system.
Get Started With Le Wagon
Think you’re ready to go to bootcamp and hone your skills as a future Product Owner? Download our syllabus below to discover our Web Development coding bootcamp and learn more about our alumni and community! And for answers to frequently asked questions, head here.