5 Important Product Owner Skills


on August 2, 2016

The Product Owner’s Role

The Product Owner is the key person in any project and helps in delivering solutions. They serve as a liaison between the business and the development team. They carry the product vision and what needs to be developed in addition to managing user feedback. All the projects that have great Product Owners succeed because the team has a goal and vision. Without fail, all the projects with no Product Owner, multiple Product Owners or “bad” Product Owners do not go smoothly and result in delays. It is one of the main reasons why projects fail. Through my experience, I would like to share the 5 skills that every good Product Owner should have and develop.

1. Communication Skills

Communication across all team members is the most important skill for any project to be successful. The team has to be transparent and work together to achieve a common goal. It is important for everyone within the team to be open and effectively communicate. It is particularly critical for the Product Owner to possess good communication skills that can adapt to different teams and personality types. The Product Owner needs to work with the business to understand their vision and the development team to bring it to reality. If they are not communicating effectively, things can go awry very fast.

2. Commitment

The Product Owner should be committed to the project, vision, team and the business. They need to be at all meetings and work with all team members. It is important for them to collaborate with everyone. Furthermore, the Product Owner must take ownership of the process and be committed to the project’s success.

3. The Power of No

It is important for the Product Owner to manage the feedback from the business and guide the development team forward. Most of the time, they will have to say “no” to the business and their feedback. Developer’s should not develop every single idea and feedback that the business can think of. Otherwise, the whole development process will take too long, project will lose focus, and the developed solution might not actually solve the business problem. Thus, it is important to communicate effectively and say “no” in a way that will not discourage or upset the business. The Product Owner should explain why a feedback item will or will not be developed and effectively move the team towards productive conversations.

4. Vision

In connection with communication, the Product Owner should clearly communicate the vision between the small backlog items and the larger business goal. They see the full vision of the application and steer the ship forward. They should align the product vision with the company’s vision and needs.

5. Curiosity

The Product Owner should always be curious to ask the “Why” questions from the business and “how” from the development team. When asking these questions to the team, they understand the business rules better and can create a better vision of what the final product should be.

Bottom Line

Throughout all these skills, communication is the key skill that links everything together. The product owner should be the master communicator and ensure that the business and IT are equally aligned to make the product vision come true. They are the key individuals within the organization that will drive digital innovation and assist their company in reaching the next level.