One of Scrum’s best things is that it’s great at defining roles, even something as expansive as that of a product owner. After all, a product owner is expected to own the product backlog, create user stories, and interface with the Scrum Team and the stakeholders.
But what does it really take to become a product owner who can effectively handle all of that?
Is it only a vast knowledge about the product? Or, is it the excellent communication and problem-solving skills?
Truth be told, a product owner who is future-ready has all of those abilities and more. He has the skills that add more value to the best product owner certification that he owns.
So, what exactly are these skills that are found in every farsighted product owner? Let’s find out!
Excellent communication skills
The ability to communicate effectively is one of the foremost skills that a product owner has to master. To future-proof the product, they need to know how to deliver the right information at the right time.
It seems complicated, right? Well, it isn’t.
It’s essential to understand the form of communication to be used to deliver the message. While emails are the much-preferred option at present, they aren’t the only resort. A product owner has to stress on personal contact, as well.
After all, a whiteboard and a marker will get the conversation flowing better in some cases.
The ability to make quick decisions
Being a product owner is not just about making decisions daily, but rather making them quickly. Not making any decision can be more damaging than making a slightly bad one, in the case of a product owner.
But, how does one take decisions so fast without a thorough analysis?
It is widely believed that you’ll have to use your gut feeling and the lessons learned during your product owner certification in times like this.
You will just have to consider the facts that you have at hand and make the best decision under the circumstances. That is the reason why for everyone aspiring to be a product owner, a certification is a must.
A clear sight of the priorities
Prioritizing is a skill to be learned for any aspiring product owner, or else there’ll be pileups and bottlenecks all around. Remember: prioritizing all means prioritizing none!
So, a seasoned product owner knows when to say no, even when it feels pretty hard to do so. Understandably, saying no might generate some conflict, but not saying it can make you lose focus.
Here are the four practical tips you should follow to never lose sight of your priorities:
- Define what your preferences are
- Define the things that aren’t the priority
- Make those priorities known to all.
- Do not use ‘and’ while writing sprint goals.
A problem-solving mindset
You will find people coming to you with the request to implement the right solutions. The fact is that they often forget to clarify the problem this solution is expected to address. Now, it’s your job to uncover that.
A successful product owner has the ability to empathize with the customers and know their problems. The problem is that the course of the discussions has to be changed from solutions to problems. You have to be relentless in uncovering the problem.
Besides, the development teams don’t like to work on solutions before getting a clear idea about the problem they are dealing with. So, you should be able to answer a crucial question: which problem gets solved after the customers use your product?
The ability to evaluate the results
If you thought that a product owner’s work gets completed with the release of a product, think again. The work ends only when the coveted results are delivered. And measuring the results is the next step of the process.
So, how do you measure the results? You will write User Stories, Epics, and more that are completely measurable.
There also has to be clarity regarding the words used for expected results. Unmeasurable words like good, fast, great, or improved have no place here. The targets have to be precise, for instance, increase the active monthly users by thirty percent.
Measuring and evaluating the outcome will help you know if you are on the right track. The future decisions that you take will be based on this analysis.
Always being an ardent learner
As you can well understand, a product owner has to face a long line of challenges and hurdles. The only way to cross those hurdles is to be open to learning more. And, learning more does not solely refer to certifications but also to understand your scenario.
For a product owner to be future-ready, a keen understanding of the following factors is of utmost necessity:
- Tools for product management
- The action of the competitors
- The gap to be filled in the market
- Product trends
- The actions of the new market entries
- The demand of the customers
- Ways to improve personal skills
Falling into the cocoon of the comfort zone is an absolute no-no for a product owner.
Commendable storytelling abilities
A great product owner would not just go ahead and chop a user story into a product backlog before sending it forward. It is the product owner’s job to consider ways to transform the story and the product feature in a way that delights the customers.
For instance, a ride sharing company might offer a receipt to the user through email as a backlog item. Maybe the user needs to include that receipt in an Excel expenses report but within a short time window. So, you will have to think about the additional help you can offer in the form of receipt formats or payment methods.
Being a product owner might be a daunting challenge, but there is something gratifying about having the ability to change lives for the better.
And, if you have the skills mentioned above, you will also be able to succeed in this role. All in all, being a product owner will feel like a rollercoaster ride, but it’s a ride that you’ll thoroughly enjoy.