If your organization is creating and selling a new product, you likely have a product development team. This team is especially important as your product grows in complexity — i.e. as you start developing new versions of the same product or multiple types of products. A product development team can manage the technicalities of these products, come up with new and innovative ideas, and make these concepts come to life.
There are several roles that make up a solid product development team. One of these is the product owner.
What Is a Product Owner?
A product owner is a member of the product development team whose role is to manage the product backlog. The product backlog is a list of items, ordered by importance, that the development team needs to work on for the product. The product owner ensures that the team is aware of all deliverables — both external and internal — that they need to prioritize.
Since organizing tasks by priority can be difficult, product owners typically work to transform it into an agile framework.
What Is Agile?
Agile is the set of ideas that serve as the main goal for a product. This is a great way for product development teams to structure their daily responsibilities based on a common end result. Using agile principles, teams can select the best agile framework to meet their needs for collaboration, task management, research, and more.
There are many agile frameworks, but product owners are involved with the Scrum framework. This is effective for teams who have to regularly provide value to customers. Teams have consistent, fixed work intervals — referred to as “sprints.” Products are delivered at the end of each sprint, after being approved by the product owner. Sprints keep teams focused on when they need to deliver an item, so teams with Scrum frameworks are against changing deadlines or tasks during a sprint.
Based on the Scrum framework, product owners have many responsibilities in their day-to-day lives.
Product Owner Job Description
Product owners must identify and list items for the product backlog, as well as decided the order of importance for these items. They must communicate to the product development team their responsibilities, including the problem and solution that the product will solve. Product owners determine the parameters for a successfully completed backlog and check deliverables for accuracy before releasing product to customers.
In order to handle the weight of these tasks, product owners typically are chosen based on their traits.
Product Owner Traits
Product owners need to be both a stakeholder and a product manager. In order to do so, they should be:
Superb leaders who can bring a vision to the product development team and guide their deliverables
Able to let go of control and allow the product development team to take the reigns on backlog items
Quick decision-makers who can trust their intuition and expertise when deciding on the priority of backlog items
Excellent researchers who can discover innovative features in the field and introduce them to their product
Well-educated on the stages of development
Clear and efficient communicators who can provide regular feedback to the development team
Open to feedback from the development team, as well as from other stakeholders
Flexible and understanding of the consistent changes that accompany the development team
Product Owner Salary
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a product owner is $115,102 per year. The average additional compensation — including bonuses, tips, commission, and profit sharing — is $7,822.
The low end of the range marks at about $103,000, while the high end is about $131,000.
If you believe you have the skills, experience, and interest to be a product owner, consider it as a future career opportunity. Not only will it help you see the behind-the-scenes of your company’s product development, but you’ll also get to exercise your leadership skills.