What Is a Product Proprietor? A Venture 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 undertaking supervisor went via a spherical of layoffs and started assigning product proprietor obligations to undertaking managers. This isn’t excellent—however in talking with colleagues since then, I’ve realized this position commingling is extremely widespread. Due to continual staffing shortages, product proprietor duties get assigned to anybody able to performing them; finances constraints might trigger an organization to rent one particular person to carry out the roles of each a undertaking supervisor and product proprietor; or hiring managers might merely be extra concerned with buying expertise than assigning correct job titles.

Happily, the duties of a product proprietor—akin to advocating for the client, writing consumer tales, creating documentation, and prioritizing the backlog—aren’t wildly exterior the bounds of most undertaking managers’ skills. Whereas the primary targets of undertaking managers and product homeowners could also be totally different, the abilities required to attain them overlap in some ways.

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

Understanding the Completely different Roles

Venture managers have a variety of duties. They assemble growth groups, information and coach workforce members, and resolve impediments. Whereas it’s a multifaceted position, when a undertaking supervisor is setting deadlines, monitoring progress, and estimating prices, they’re performing as an advocate for the corporate, ensuring a undertaking stays on schedule and on finances.

Product homeowners, then again, are an advocate for the client—they make sure the builders know what the client needs, even when the client doesn’t know but. Extra particularly, product homeowners develop and talk targets 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 targets of a undertaking supervisor and product proprietor are totally different, the roles require overlapping abilities.

It’s wholesome to have a little bit of friction between the targets of the undertaking supervisor and the product proprietor; having a separate advocate for every precedence helps keep a steadiness between the competing pursuits. As an example, a undertaking supervisor might wish to minimize a product’s scope to guard the timeline. However a decreased scope could also be at odds with creating worth for the client.

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

Constructing Crossover Abilities

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

  • Efficient communication. This can be a cornerstone of undertaking administration and product possession as a result of each roles require in depth interplay with different folks, together with the undertaking workforce and exterior stakeholders.
  • Group. Venture managers and product homeowners ought to each be capable to handle competing priorities and necessities, whether or not inside a undertaking or associated to a product.
  • Battle decision. It falls on each roles to resolve intrateam conflicts, in addition to conflicts between the workforce and stakeholders. Venture 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 must be adept at balancing the duties and obligations of their groups to get issues achieved with better effectivity.

Constructing efficient cross-role skills generally is a great boon for contract staff shifting backwards and forwards between a number of positions, folks trying to make a full profession transition right into a product position, or undertaking managers who merely wish to stage up their efficiency.

If you end up being requested to operate as a product proprietor in your present position, you can begin to carry out the fundamental obligations of that position by:

  • Growing and speaking the targets for the product.
  • Prioritizing the product backlog for the event workforce.
  • Creating consumer 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.

Enhancing Your Product Proprietor Abilities

The abilities detailed within the desk under are important for a product proprietor to domesticate. They’ll additionally assist you to do a greater job as a undertaking supervisor by setting extra reasonable targets and process estimates, prioritizing the highest-value options earlier within the undertaking, and figuring out threat elements earlier than they turn into an issue. The diploma to which somebody masters these abilities is what separates a superb product proprietor from an incredible one.

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

– Makes the “why” behind product selections clear, so the workforce can perceive what to do and create the very best model of any given function.

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

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

Figuring out 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 unfavorable penalties, akin to prolonging growth efforts.

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

Getting an Edge

As a undertaking administration skilled, it behooves you to grasp the aim and distinctive abilities 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 often finest, however to get a jumpstart in your talent journey, take a product proprietor course via The Braintrust Consulting Group, CAVU, or Scrum.org—or contemplate pursuing certifications. Certifications not solely assist you to perceive a product proprietor position, 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 ceaselessly 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 net coaching service Coursera usually 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 undertaking administration profession. T-shaped abilities are in demand for a motive—the flexibility to work cross-functionally may also help you get forward within the office and in your profession, whether or not you’re a full-time worker or an impartial contractor.


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