Transitioning to an Agile approach in product development brings a set of new rules, as well as roles and concepts, and the building of a new culture. One of the most important roles within this process is the Product Owner.
Among many responsibilities that the Product Owner can take over to facilitate development and improve your products are Product Backlog management, overseeing product development and evaluation of the product process, while maintaining the satisfaction of the stakeholders and amazing customer experience. What a juggler and a wizard this person should be!
The career path of the Product Owner
Product development must handle various business goals, a specific group of target customers or users, a set of product features. Furthermore, competition on the market, scalability, UX and UI design, KPIs, and a multiple of other requests. The key person of interest, in charge of taking care of all these goals, is the Product Owner.
He/She should be the one to consider such characteristics and to act with the main purpose to maximize the value of the product. The Product Owner’s responsibility is to be aware of the business goals the product needs to achieve and help adapt the Development Team’s work according to those goals.
According to his/her level of professional experience, the career development path of a Product Owner can be on several seniority levels. Each of them has a strict set of criteria in number of areas that the Product Owner must meet.
At the beginning of his/her professional career Product Owner knows and follows the principles of Agile development. During that stage, PO gather product requirements from the stakeholders and assure that the Development Team is doing the best they can, at all times. Product Owner should be able to understand the product vision but still need to learn how to support stakeholders and customers.
At this stage, still they don’t have to follow good user experience practices while filling out the product road map. However, the Product Owner who is at the beginning of his career path should be able to identify the needs of the customers and to introduce Development Team with them in a clear and comprehensive manner.
While at the beginning of the career Product Owner discusses the goals and vision of the product with the stakeholders. They point to the goals based on product description and works together with the Development Team to understand product requirements, answering questions as best they can, according to their ability. Also, they actively take part in planning, refinements, reviews, etc.
When the Product Owner becomes the Master of Products
Maybe at the beginning of their career, Product Owner does not need, to be certified, but for those with proven experience, this is a must. The Product Owner should be certified with a recognized certificate from the international institution, such as the Scrum Alliance, as a proven record of their skills and a validation of their career development.
As with their career development and work practice, Product Owner becomes really independent in their work. At this stage, PO already know how to act in different situations while cooperating with various types of stakeholders. PO involve stakeholders same as the users in the process, inviting them to actively take part in the development of the product, giving constant feedback and bring new ideas on product features.
The Product Owner prioritizes the Product Backlog based on business value. They translate the general Product vision into specific product features and implement long-term planning through regular road mapping. With the experience, they already have, they must prepare and lead refinements and do the planning within their Team.
While taking care of the stakeholders’ interests, Product Owner also keeps the users’ needs in focus and makes sure that product meets their requirements as well. They discuss and define those requirements, accepting potential changing requests. From this reason he/she works with the UX designers to deliver user-friendly experience, and to help the Team understand those requirements.
As a master of the product, an experienced Product Owner is a professional who is able to introduce his team with a new and useful tools and practices. With the knowledge and expertise, he/she actively supports the stakeholders from the business point of view, explaining potential product’s opportunities and risks. Furthermore, they stay up to date with the newest trends in a product development and know how to give add value to both – the stakeholders and customers, based on their knowledge.
What is the next level for Product Owners?
If you are already a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), with a proven record in product development you might be interested to in-deep your knowledge, skills and practices taking a program such as Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner.
As a Certified professional, you have already been introduced to Scrum values, practices, and applications. You understand how to provide a level of knowledge and expertise above and beyond that of typical product managers. Incorporation of Scrum values and Agile principles into your world of work takes diligence, patience, and a commitment to continuous improvement, since you understand that Agile is a life-long journey and never-ending process.
That’s why you should consider to further enhance your knowledge and skills, and the next reasonable step is obtaining an Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner (A-CSPO) certification from the Scrum Alliance. As an experienced Product Owner, with additional experience of a consultant, program and project manager, and technical leader you will have strong benefit by joining the program.
What is best about this? A-CSM program is an advanced workshop and it is ideal for a Certified Scrum Product Owner who has one or more years of work experience in that role. Attending this program is an opportunity to build on your foundational knowledge with enhanced implementation skills, as well as to distinguish yourself in the global marketplace. Nevertheless, to demonstrate advanced value to your team and organization as a highly trained Agile professional.
Will this be the end of your career path into the world of the products?
The answer is no, because you can continue with further scaling of your Product Owner mastership, whether you would like to stay in product development practice, or you are maybe more interesting in training and coaching. From both perspectives, there are some challenging choices you can take in your further professional development.
Speaking about practice, you can go with some of the Scaled Scrum Product Owner programs, which are appropriate for anyone who is interested in becoming a Chief Scrum Product Owner. If your ambitions are going into this direction, and you would like to be able to coordinate activities of multiple Product Owner in complex environment, you should think about this option.
If your ambitions are going more into direction of coaching, choices are multiple, too. Starting with a Certified Scrum Product Owner Professional, you can continue with further scalability into the leaders of Scrum Alliance, as long you reach the highest rank – Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). But even after that, it won’t be the end, because learning about products is never-ending process.
Just like a Scrum Master can take CSPO certification, you can do the same, as well. That does not necessarily mean that you will ever work as the Scrum Master, however, you can jump into his shoes and understand more clearly your Scrum Master and what he/she stands for.
Many companies will offer to pay for you to obtain certifications, especially once you have proven yourself as a successful in product development. Even more, much and more companies are be ready to pay to have you if you are already certified, since this is the best record of all your achievements and professional self-development. Why don’t you make yourself really marketable, become the Master of the Products today!