Product Owner Job Description

When creating a job description for hiring for a Product Owner on your Professional Scrum Team a lot of questions may come to mind. What am I looking for? What qualifications should they have? What kind of educational background should they have? Do they need to be certified, how many and which ones? How do I know I’ll get a good one? In this blog I’d like to address those topics and give a list of attributes I believe a Professional Scrum Product Owner worth their salt will have. The goal of this writing is to give you a solid first step to building your own job description to hire for a Professional Scrum Product Owner.

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What is a Product Owner?

Product Owners maximize the value a Scrum team can deliver. They manage the Product Backlog and create Product Goals. They’re also accountable for much of the communication between the stakeholders and developers on the Scrum Team. They own the product vision and relentlessly pursue feedback from stakeholders in the Sprint Review to achieve that vision as swiftly as possible minimizing several forms of risk and maximizing value delivered with the existing team.

Day to Day Product Owner Responsibilities

As an accountability on the Scrum team, a successful Product Owner will do the following:

  • Work with stakeholders, customers, users, and others to understand their problems and translate them into product backlog items
  • Create the vision for the product
  • Create visualizations to communicate vision, direction, and progress
  • Manage the Product Backlog and order it based on changing needs
    and new information
  • Communicate the needs of stakeholders by working closely with the
    entire Scrum team
  • Monitor progress toward Product Goals
  • Facilitate direct conversations between developers and stakeholders
    when needed
  • Attend all required Scrum Events including Sprint Planning, Sprint Review, Sprint Retrospective.
  • Drive the success of the product using empirical product management techniques

Skills and Qualifications of a Successful Product Owner

To be a successful Product Owner, a high-quality candidate should have the following skills and qualifications:

  • In-depth theoretical and practical knowledge of Scrum
  • Working knowledge of Agile Development techniques and practices
  • Deep understanding of analytic tools that support empirical product
    development
  • The ability to prioritize work and requests
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to negotiate with stakeholder, developers, managers and
    others
  • A sharp focus on quality

What education would I need to be a successful Product Owner?

For software products, they would typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or other software related fields. A background in product management will also be useful. A serious nice to have would be a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or some form of formal business education. Scrum certifications also help but do not replace a strong educational and experiential background. Having attended the Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO) and earned certification goes a long way toward demonstrating competence and skills as a Product Owner.

Product Owner Experience Requirements

An experienced Product Owner candidate will have been a Product Owner for at least one year on a Scrum team. Successful cross-over candidates are those that have experience in Product Management with relevant Scrum education and certification. For software-based products, a strong background in software development is helpful, but not always required. Good Product Owners also have experience in stakeholder management, worked in all areas of the software product development lifecycle, and understand forecasting of complex systems to help set appropriate stakeholder expectations with respect to budget, scope and timeline.

Closing

While the above is a great place to start, the list is not exhaustive. Your business context will shape the additional information that should be included in your Product Owner job description. Anyone you hire should be a good fit for your team. They should know your domain and products. Additionally, they should possess a strong understanding of your business. If we at Responsive Advisors can help to screen candidates, train high potentials, or just be an advisor throughout the process, please reach out to info@responsiveadvisors.com We’d be honored to help.

Robert Pieper

I like Metalcore, and cupcakes.