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What is a product owner and how can you become one?

New Zealand’s IT and Tech industry has rapidly adopted the Agile Method for creating more efficient project management systems. Many use the Scrum framework, and at the heart of the processes is the product owner.

What are the responsibilities involved with this position, and what skills do you need to become one?

What is a product owner?

A product owner is the authority on a product, managing its creation, direction and production time frame. You can think of the role being comprised of these three things:

  • The compass – Identifies goals and directions for a project, as well as providing the team all essential details for it.
  • The time-manager – Prioritises and manages the tasks the team needs to do keeping them accountable to deadlines.
  • The communicator – Communicates across both internal and external stakeholders, creates release plans, keeps everyone informed of relevant updates and is the public face for the product.

Within the scrum model, this means handling responsibilities such as:

  • Managing the product backlog.
  • Briefing projects on customer requirements.
  • Defining and prioritising features.
  • Evaluating the product, its features, what items need prioritising and deadlines after each sprint.
  • Controlling quality.

The skills needed for the role of product owner

Becoming a product owner means stepping into a leadership position. It opens up many career options and is an exciting opportunity. If it’s the next move you want to make, here are the skills you’ll need to develop.

Communication

You’re the relay between the stakeholders and your team. It’s essential that you’re able to communicate ideas clearly and accurately to a range of people, as well as facilitating conversations between different parties.

Time management and prioritisation

It’s your responsibility to ensure production runs smoothly. For this to happen strict time management is necessary, as well as an understanding of where you need to focus your team to develop features in the optimal order.

Business sense

Having customer and market insight gives a product owner the bigger picture they need to ensure a product succeeds. You need business savvy to help you identify which opportunities to chase and understand what your customer actually wants.

Leadership

You’re the one that needs to guide your team through the project. Cohesion is essential to ensuring you’re working together and aiming for the right goals. To do this a product owner needs strong leadership skills.

If you’re thinking about the next step you need to take for your career in the New Zealand IT and Tech industry, make sure you reach out to the team at Finite920 today.

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