Four awesome reasons to be a Product Owner

Product Owner is a term synonymous with Scrum based IT Product Development. “The product owner represents the stakeholders and is the voice of the customer, who is accountable for ensuring that the team delivers value to the business”.

I moved into a product owner role couple of years back and has cherished the role ever since. I don’t intend to get into specifics of what I do but rather highlight the elements which makes me enjoy this role like none in the past.

§ Voice of the Customer

Product owners are the voice of the customers/users. The priceless moment in this relationship comes when a new feature is introduced to the product and the same gets a ‘wow’ reaction from the users. It is an exhilarating feeling to see the smile on the user’s face and being congratulated for work done.

The feeling will be there for other actors like the build team as well but I believe it is special for the product owner. And true the situation can be opposite as well which can be quite unpleasant. But that’s for another day :).

§ Guardians of the Product

Till date I have read 2 extremes of what a product owner’s role is synonymous with. First likens it to a ‘mini CEO’ and other to a ‘Janitor’. I will rather go with a third one — a ‘Guardian’ of the product, someone who oversees the product growth. The users constantly present their wish list of additional features for the product. Managing this wish list and the expectation becomes a major challenge especially when there are thousands of users.

As guardians of the product, we need to ensure that only the most valuable and critical need which serves the larger community makes the cut. At the same time, we need to ensure that the existing functionalities continues to work at the optimum level.

§ Critical Thinking and Decision Making

In my role I need to ensure that the product is constantly invested in to keep it relevant and exciting. The investment made need to be properly channelized to build the right features. At a point in time, the options to invest will be multiple and keep evolving based on the stakeholder’s requirement and changing trends.

Choosing the right options require the product owner to critically think and evaluate each one before taking a decision. These decisions ae generally based on return on investment, value add and impact of the changes requested. The responsibility is huge; at the same time, it gives a great sense of purpose playing this role.

§ Fostering Creativity and Innovation

Being a product owner provides an opportunity for creating a unique and fulfilling experience through the product. The role gave me the flexibility to be innovative and creative while working on adding a new feature to a product. Ideas fly thick and fast while discussing the solution to the problem statement with the team members and sometimes even the users. Without discounting the management backing, the role allows to test new waters and set new benchmarks on product delivery.

Product Owner role like the others comes with its own set of challenges, frustrations, ups and downs. But it is the aspect mentioned above which makes me long for another day at work :).