What does a Software Product Owner do?

A Product Owner in the software world sits between the business and software development team. They ensure that value, defined by the business – Product Managers – is translated and realised as quickly as possible by the development team who decide how to implement that value.

A Product Owner role is NOT a scrum master role nor is it a Product Manager role – those are separate and distinct roles. If they are carried out by the same individual, then they are doing 2 or 3 roles in 1!

Product Owners must be directly managed by the Product or (Agile) Delivery teams, not software engineering. If the company doesn’t have a Product Manager yet, then the Product Owner must report to the person in the company that ‘owns’ the product, generally this is a founder or the CEO.

The Product Owner’s customer is the Product Manager (Business) and represent their interests to the development team.

From the development team perspective, the Product Owner is a proxy for the Customer and defines and prioritises the team’s backlog in collaboration with all stakeholders while keeping one eye out for improving the product’s user experience. The Product Owner helps the development team understand what the realised value of what they will be delivering is and assists feeding back progress on the delivery as well as any implementation issues or alternative solution proposals.

The responsibilities for a Product Owner include:

  • Channels the voice of the customer to guide development teams in building software with highest value and customer impact.
  • Facilitates decision-making and prioritization among the various stakeholders.
  • Be available to the development team to answer questions.
  • Help the development team understand each story and its acceptance criteria.
  • Manage and refine the team backlog as needed.
  • Sequence the work on the team backlog to reflect value realization and priorities.
  • Assess and accept work completed (called an increment in scrum terms).
  • Work with release management. The Product Owner attends to many aspects of release that are required for value realization and that are not usually part of the development team’s responsibility including marketing, support, timing, priority, pricing, training, communication.
  • Ensure that continuous product improvement happens by incorporating customer feedback.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *