What Did I Learn as a Product Owner?

Being a product owner is challenging and fulfilling at the same time. You get to practice your leadership, analytical, and technical skills. The joy you get when you see something that you planned and envisioned getting developed and being used is enormous. I loved every bit of the job and the challenges it presented, and with the challenges come the learning that I tried to incorporate in my journey:

Talk to People — Though it seems simple, I cannot emphasize this enough. I’m not just talking about the stakeholders but all other people too whose help, at some point, you might need. Build rapport with stakeholders and your colleagues. Tell them what you are doing and planning; you’d be surprised by suggestions, feedback, or help you will get from them.

So many issues can be resolved much faster if you go directly to the person and ask for help rather than being trapped in the slow-moving email chains. I’m not underestimating the importance of emails but asking you to evaluate the best possible alternative. Moreover, overcommunication hasn’t killed anyone, yet!

Keep the Team Engaged — In agile, the user stories are supposed to be completed and demonstrated within the sprint, but, in reality, the development time deviates a lot from the estimated. You should be ready with the user stories or tasks to assign when someone completes a story in the middle of the sprint or is idle due to some other reasons.

Think Long-Term — As a product owner, your job is to keep track of the delivery of the product in its entirety and take appropriate mitigation actions if you foresee inconsistencies. Your job is also to propagate your plan to the stakeholders that also include your team.

Think Short-Term — Your job is also to deliver short-term goals that may include milestones that you define for the release. In case of variations, your job is to assess the situation and replan. Learn from it. Also, assess the effects of this variation from the long-term perspective.

Prioritize Effectively — This is one of the most important and challenging part of the job. You need to prioritize based on the customer value, required efforts, release time, and resources at hand. As it’s easy to discover various use cases and features, it’s imperative to assess and discard the ones that offer low value or don’t fit into the plan.

Maximize for Efficiency and Quality — Deadlines are important and necessary most of the times. You could build Taj Mahal instead of required two bedroom apartment, but it’ll be a waste of time and resources. Your job is to improve the efficiency of the team without compromising on quality. Be clear on the expectations, focus on what’s required and disregard the frivolous.

Don’t Overcomplicate — If you come from the technical background, as I do, it’s easy to get over-involved in the technical details. It’s better to focus on setting the expectations clear and let the team figure out how they want to get things done. Poking your nose too much will complicate things and decrease the efficiency of the team.

Punit Jain

Product Manager/Owner | Delivering Value to Customers

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on October 21, 2017.