What Is a Product Proprietor? A Mission Supervisor’s Information


I didn’t plan on changing into a product proprietor. Some years in the past, the corporate I labored for as a venture supervisor went by way of a spherical of layoffs and commenced assigning product proprietor tasks to venture managers. This isn’t preferrred—however in talking with colleagues since then, I’ve realized this function commingling is extremely widespread. Due to power staffing shortages, product proprietor duties get assigned to anybody able to performing them; price range constraints might trigger an organization to rent one individual to carry out the roles of each a venture supervisor and product proprietor; or hiring managers might merely be extra excited by buying expertise than assigning correct job titles.

Luckily, the duties of a product proprietor—comparable to advocating for the shopper, writing person tales, creating documentation, and prioritizing the backlog—aren’t wildly exterior the bounds of most venture managers’ skills. Whereas the primary objectives of venture managers and product homeowners could also be completely different, the talents required to realize them overlap in some ways.

As a venture supervisor, chances are you’ll end up being requested to do the duties of a product proprietor at some point. Chances are you’ll even aspire to formally transfer right into a full-time product proprietor function, as I did. This information will enable you to excel in cross-role assignments and convey a broader understanding of each venture and product to your present job.

Understanding the Completely different Roles

Mission managers have a variety of duties. They assemble improvement groups, information and coach group members, and resolve impediments. Whereas it’s a multifaceted function, when a venture supervisor is setting deadlines, monitoring progress, and estimating prices, they’re performing as an advocate for the corporate, ensuring a venture stays on schedule and on price range.

Product homeowners, alternatively, are an advocate for the shopper—they make sure the builders know what the shopper needs, even when the shopper doesn’t know but. Extra particularly, product homeowners develop and talk objectives for the product, prioritize the product backlog, talk with stakeholders throughout the corporate, and anticipate buyer wants.

A two-circle Venn diagram entitled The Project/Product Overlap. One circle is labeled “Project Manager” with the subtitle “Advocates for the business—to work within finite time and resources.” The other is labeled “Product Owner” with the subtitle “Advocates for the customer—to create maximum product value.” In the overlap are the phrases “Effective Communication,” “Organization,” “Conflict Resolution,” and “Delegation.”
Though the primary objectives of a venture supervisor and product proprietor are completely different, the roles require overlapping expertise.

It’s wholesome to have a little bit of friction between the objectives of the venture supervisor and the product proprietor; having a separate advocate for every precedence helps keep a stability between the competing pursuits. As an illustration, a venture supervisor might wish to reduce a product’s scope to guard the timeline. However a lowered scope could also be at odds with creating worth for the shopper.

There’s a pure battle of curiosity when a venture supervisor—targeted on adhering to the constraints of schedule and price range—handles each roles. Should you’re requested to do it, watch out that one vital curiosity (buyer satisfaction) doesn’t get ignored in favor of others (money and time).

Constructing Crossover Expertise

Even when venture supervisor and product proprietor are two distinct jobs and everyone seems to be of their correct workstream, I’ve discovered that the talents I’ve developed in a single function have helped tremendously once I tackle the opposite. Each venture administration and product possession require:

  • Efficient communication. It is a cornerstone of venture administration and product possession as a result of each roles require in depth interplay with different folks, together with the venture group and exterior stakeholders.
  • Group. Mission managers and product homeowners ought to each be capable to handle competing priorities and necessities, whether or not inside a venture or associated to a product.
  • Battle decision. It falls on each roles to resolve intrateam conflicts, in addition to conflicts between the group and stakeholders. Mission managers should resolve conflicts with useful resource constraints, whereas product homeowners should be capable to resolve conflicts associated to differing opinions on product worth.
  • Delegation. Each roles ought to be adept at balancing the duties and tasks of their groups to get issues executed with larger effectivity.

Constructing efficient cross-role skills could be a super boon for contract staff transferring forwards and backwards between a number of positions, folks trying to make a full profession transition right into a product function, or venture managers who merely wish to degree up their efficiency.

If you end up being requested to perform as a product proprietor in your present function, you can begin to carry out the essential tasks of that function by:

  • Growing and speaking the objectives for the product.
  • Prioritizing the product backlog for the event group.
  • Creating person tales (or ensuring the creation is delegated to others).
  • Gathering and clarifying necessities.
  • Writing documentation.
  • Working with the event and UX groups to make sure necessities are clear.

Collectively, these competencies assist groups perceive buyer wants and ship merchandise with most worth.

Bettering Your Product Proprietor Expertise

The abilities detailed within the desk under are important for a product proprietor to domesticate. They will additionally enable you to do a greater job as a venture supervisor by setting extra life like objectives and process estimates, prioritizing the highest-value options earlier within the venture, and figuring out danger elements earlier than they turn into an issue. The diploma to which somebody masters these expertise is what separates a very good product proprietor from an important one.

Talent A great product proprietor … An amazing product proprietor …
Facilitating – Relays buyer must the event group, and represents the event group to the shopper. – Facilitates conversations and guides the decision-making course of to make sure there are profitable outcomes for everybody concerned.
Storytelling – Turns person tales right into a backlog for the event group. – Understands the whole context of options that they’re working towards holistically and communicates that story to the group.

– Makes the “why” behind product selections clear, so the group can perceive what to do and how one can create one of the best model of any given characteristic.

Anticipating buyer wants – Delivers a product that meets clients’ requests. – Identifies options to issues that the shopper didn’t but know they’d.

– Evaluates every request and presents the shopper with alternatives to resolve the issue in distinctive methods.

Understanding when to say no – Provides options to the product. – Screens out options that don’t align with the product’s imaginative and prescient or may need destructive penalties, comparable to prolonging improvement efforts.

– Says no to options which might be unethical or unlawful, and presents viable alternate options with out being discouraging or impolite.

Getting an Edge

As a venture administration skilled, it behooves you to know the aim and distinctive expertise of a product proprietor so you are able to do your present job extra successfully or put together to transition into a brand new one. On-the-job coaching is normally greatest, however to get a jumpstart in your talent journey, take a product proprietor course by way of The Braintrust Consulting Group, CAVU, or Scrum.org—or think about pursuing certifications. Certifications not solely enable you to perceive a product proprietor function, in addition they function proof that you’ll be able to carry out it within the case of a promotion or new job alternative. Two specific product proprietor certifications are most popular by hiring managers, showing most regularly in Scrum-related job postings:

The logos for CSPO and PSPO I certifications. The CSPO logo is labeled “Appears in 2,630 job postings” and the PSPO I logo is labeled “Appears in 520 job postings.” There is a source line that says “Job postings as of May 2022, per Coursera.
The web coaching service Coursera frequently tracks the Scrum certifications most sought by employers. The numbers above mirror their totals as of Might 2022.

Whether or not you noticed product possession in your future or not, you’re prone to be requested to carry out the duties of 1 in some unspecified time in the future in your venture administration profession. T-shaped expertise are in demand for a purpose—the power to work cross-functionally will help you get forward within the office and in your profession, whether or not you’re a full-time worker or an unbiased contractor.


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