Joanna Couturier
By Joanna Jul 16, 2021

Product Owner, the Project’s Compass

Actor, interlocutor, promoter, facilitator, guide, ambassador… the Product Owner plays so many roles. But who is the Product Owner (or PO to their friends) and what is their purpose?

The Product Owner, a Team Player?

The PO is an agent of the project team; they aren’t a lone ranger, but rather the project team’s central link.

Product Owner, the Project Team

The project team is composed of operational roles and Agile roles, such as the Product Owner and the Scrum Master.

Members of the Project Team

What’s Their Typical Day Like?

If the Product Owner is so important, it’s because they have strategic responsibilities throughout the project and even beyond. However, be aware: they are not expected to provide all the answers. They are a key player, but one who constantly works in close collaboration with the project team, which is there to support and help them.

Infographic: What the Product Owner does and doesn't do

What Qualities Should a Product Owner Have?

You may ask yourself, who can fill such a pivotal role as the Product Owner?

Quite simply, a person with a good knowledge of the company, the workflows, and the people. The PO does not have to have the answer to everything, but they can direct the project team to the right person to get the questions answered.

A good Product Owner must have excellent communication and listening skills, as they will be collecting and exchanging information throughout the project with future users about their needs and the work in progress. They have the natural leadership skills to promote the new solution and get the users on board.

The Product Owner has a sense of priorities and is responsible for making decisions. They will be able to guide the project team towards the most important points and choose between two options if necessary.

The PO is an organized and motivated person who wants to take part in new challenges that may be outside their comfort zone. But don’t worry, they are by no means alone in this challenge: the project team is there to accompany them in carrying out their tasks, and to ensure that they have all the information, both functional and technical, necessary to make decisions.

How Much Time Should the Product Owner Give to the Project?

The role of PO requires proper time management. It cannot, under any circumstances, be done in a few quick work sessions at the beginning and end of the project.

There are several types of Product Owner:

  • A person from the customer’s business teams who initially holds an operational role and who, through their knowledge and experience, is the best asset. In this case, the PO will not be able to keep their activities 100% operational during the project and will have to review the distribution of tasks.
  • A client’s full-time Product Owner who divides their schedule between different projects.
  • A person at Uzinakod who can, if the customer accepts, take on the role of Product Owner for the project.

Whatever the case, the Product Owner is a full-fledged member of the project who participates in daily meetings and is available to unblock issues and co-construct the solution.

It is therefore essential that the PO has all the time necessary to fully play their role. Depending on the size of the project, the number of hours per week will vary, but we consider a range of 5 to 8 hours per week a realistic average for Product Owners.

An unavailable Product Owner, or one who does not allocate the necessary time, will be a real risk for the project and may lead to blockages in the team’s execution or even planning delays, poor prioritization, or misinterpretation of requirements.

In Summary

The Product Owner is the project’s compass, both for the project team and for future users. With a clear vision of the solution, the PO working alongside the project team will be able to co-construct a solution, feature by feature, that will perfectly meet their company’s needs, both operationally and strategically.

Product Owner, the project's compass

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