Product Owner Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Product Owner, or Product Director, oversees the development of products from start to finish to ensure they meet the clients’ needs and preferences. Their main duties include determining the overall vision of products, managing various backlog items and deciding which features each product will have according to clients’ preferences.

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Product Owner Duties and Responsibilities

As part of their role on a product team, a successful Product Owner should fulfill the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Collaborating with prospective users and clients to understand and anticipate their needs and translate them into product requirements
  • Defining the vision for the team’s product
  • Creating a product road map based on this vision
  • Managing the product backlog and prioritizing them based on changing requirements
  • Overseeing all stages of product creation including design and development
  • Developing user stories
  • Monitoring and evaluating product progress at each stage of the process
  • Liaising with the product team and end-users to deliver updates
  • Participating in Scrum meetings and product sprints

What Does a Product Owner Do?

Product Owners are members of the leadership team who manage the entire product development process within an organization. They’ll research and determine the clients’ needs to determine which features to include on products and will pitch ideas for product features to stakeholders. Product Owners will then continue to act as the primary contact between the scrum teams, product development departments and stakeholders. 

They’ll collaborate closely with both the scrum and product development departments to ensure the products meet specific objectives as outlined by stakeholders and clients. After product completion, the Product Owner will conduct a final review and submit their approval before releasing the product to clients.

Product Owner Skills and Qualifications

To carry out the role of a Product Owner successfully, a candidate should possess the following skills and qualifications:

  • In-depth knowledge of Scrum and Agile Software Development Methodology
  • Working knowledge of product development architecture
  • Proficiency in the use of analytic tools
  • Ability to prioritize effectively
  • Excellent knowledge of user-centered design principles
  • Excellent oral and written communication
  • Ability to work with large teams
  • Understanding of design quality standards

Product Owner Salary Expectations

On average, a Product Owner earns $108,747 per year in the United States. In addition, they make an average cash bonus of $8,000 annually. These are Indeed estimates based on information collected from former and current Product Owners. This figure varies based on geographical location, years of experience, the industry and the type of work contract—part-time or full-time.

Product Owner Education and Training Requirements

To work as a Product Owner, you would typically require at least a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering or other related fields. Some background or training in product management will also be useful. Having certifications will equally be a plus. Relevant courses include the Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO), a course that provides two levels of certification, proving that you have an understanding of the Scrum Framework. Another one is the Certified SAFe Product Owner, a two-day training that teaches the basic principles of Scrum.

Product Owner Experience Requirements

An experienced Product Owner should have worked for a minimum of one year in the role, or in a similar one, such as Product Management. They should have a good knowledge of software development and other relevant web technologies. They should also be familiar with agile processes. An experienced Product Owner needs to have proven hands-on experience managing all stages of the product life cycle. They should be able to stick to timelines and measure progress during development. 

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Frequently asked questions about Product Owners

 

Who reports to a Product Owner?

Since they typically oversee the entire product development process, many employees may report to the Product Owner. Team members on the scrum and product development teams will typically report to the Product Owner for any instructions on features to include, updates on client preferences or changes requested by stakeholders. The Product Owner may also provide these teams with advice and guidance on how to improve the product development process.

 

Who does a Product Owner report to?

Product Owners typically serve in a leadership role, so they may report to executive team members. Larger companies may require Product Owners to work directly under the Vice President of Product Development, who will work on more high-level tasks like pricing strategies and product placement. They’ll ensure the Product Owner is effectively leading the product development and scrum teams in launching successful products. 

Product Owners usually report directly to stakeholders to present their ideas and final products. They’ll relay the stakeholders’ feedback and required updates to the product development and scrum teams.

 

What's the difference between a Product Owner and a Product Manager?

Though they both work closely on the development and launch of company’s products, there are some key differences between the duties and seniority of a Product Owner and a Product Manager. A Product Owner oversees the entire product development process and may work with a variety of teams like stakeholders, scrum masters and product developers to ensure the final product meets certain requirements and preferences. They’ll also develop ideas for product features to include. 

Product Managers typically work directly underneath Product Owners and are in charge of implementing updates, preferences and features established by Product Owners. They’ll develop product road maps and strategies for their teams during the product development process and will ensure they stay on task to launch the product by its deadline. Product Owners will review their final product once it’s finished to ensure it meets specific guidelines.

 

What makes a good Product Owner?

A strong Product Owner should hold impressive leadership skills to motivate and drive their teams to complete and launch products on time. They should use their effective attention to detail to carefully examine products and make sure they contain functional features that the stakeholders and clients require. Communication skills are also preferred in ideal candidates since they regularly collaborate with several departments and key stakeholders.

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