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With an objective to enable continuous learning and progression for our learners, PremierAgile curated several learning articles. Out of a wide range of topics, you can choose to learn from the real-world experiences by practitioners in the areas of Agile, Scrum, Product Ownership, Scaling, Agile Leadership, Tools & Frameworks, latest market trends, new innovations etc.

A Day in the Life of Product Owner

As Agile organizations have evolved in not only the software, manufacturing industry but also in various other industries such as construction, architecture, aerospace, banking, finance, etc., the job opportunities in the Agile industry have also increased exponentially. Many companies have implemented or are planning to implement Agile in their industry. Implementing Agile requires Agile professionals who are well-versed in this field and have experience in working in an Agile environment. Individuals should also possess skills such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, having the ability to accept changes in the system, etc. to become the best Agile Professional. People, in today's time, have scarce amounts of information about the job opportunities that Agile offers. They may know about what is the description of a particular job in Agile and what are the salary benefits, the skills required, etc, but many people cannot decide their career based on this information. Hence, learning about how an Agile individual performing a particular professional, spends their day in their organization could make people understand what they might go through if they decide to become that particular Agile professional.

One such profession which is talked about as the highest paying profession in an Agile industry is the Product Owner. Many people have heard about the Product Owner and read the job description, skills, etc which is required to become a Product Owner. However, getting a glimpse of a day in the life of a Product Owner would give interested professionals, a clear picture of the tasks, duties, roles, and responsibilities that are bestowed upon the Product Owner. The Product Owner is one of the main members of the fully functional Agile team. There are Product Owners specific to the particular framework of Agile such as Scrum Product Owner, SAFe Product Owner, etc. Whatever, the framework, the roles and responsibilities of the Product Owner remain pretty much the same. Looking at how they spend their day in their profession is a good way to analyze whether this job is what they think they are interested in.

What is a Product Owner?

In Agile, the Product Owner is a professional who creates the vision for the product even before the product is developed. They are the primary ambassador of the product who communicates between the customer, and the Developer. They have to anticipate the customer's needs for a product and manage the Stakeholders. Product Owners are responsible for maximizing the business value of the product that is created by the Developer. Hence, they are aligned more towards the business side of the products and focus on the trends in the market and how the product would perform in the market. 

Responsibilities of a Product Owner

To understand more about what happens in a day of the life of the Product Owner, we must be first clear about the roles and responsibilities of the Product Owner. Here are a few responsibilities of the Product Owner.

  • Creating the vision of the product
  • Defining strategic goals
  • Managing and describing the Product Backlog that includes the epics, features, and user stories.
  • Assess and Understand the customer's value
  • Product roadmap creation
  • Communication with the customers, partners, and the Developer.
  • Aid the company to identify potential clients
  • Updating the Product Backlog regularly for the team meetings.
  • Completing the customer's needs and satisfying them.
  • Become the voice of the customer.
  • Observe the current market trends and follow the competitors and the needs of the current market.
  • Establishing cross-directional relationships.
  • Negotiating priorities with different Stakeholders.
Skills required to become a Product Owner

Let us also understand the skills which are required for a Product Owner to become a successful Agile professional.

  • Excellent knowledge of the customer
  • Entrepreneurship skills
  • Technical understanding
  • Excellent communication and collaboration skills
  • Problem solving and creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Interpersonal and negotiation skills
  • Has to pay attention to details.
Day in the Life of a Product Owner

Let's dive deeper and understand the work-life of a Product Owner.

Daily Standup Meetings

Developers using Agile Methodology to develop their products have a meeting scheduled every day called the Daily Standups. The Daily standups set the direction for every member of the team for the day. As work is broken down into Sprints in the Scrum Framework, daily standups are introduced to bring efficiency in the product development process. In this meeting, every person of the Scrum Developer has to ask and answer three questions:

  • What did I accomplish yesterday to contribute to the sprints?
  • What will I complete today to contribute to the Sprint Goals?
  • What are the impediments in my way that are blocking me to achieve the Sprint Goals?

The Product Owner attends this meeting optionally to understand everyone's concern and try to give solutions and ideas such that the Developer completes the Sprint on time and reaches their Sprint Goal. The solutioning may not necessarily happen during the Daily Scrum though.

Getting Urgent and Important work done
  • The Product Owner is responsible for product delivery. Hence, the PO has to unblock the team's path and clear the impediments of the Developer such as functional issues, clarifications, and prioritization. Few impediments are specific to the Product Owner that has to be resolved, whereas other blockers should be managed by the Scrum Master. 
  • Updating the client's request and meeting the Stakeholder's demand is one of the next urgent tasks that have to be completed. Most of the time, while performing the task, the Product Owner also has to update the Product Backlog. 
  • The Product Owner should also accept the user stories, developed by the team, and during the Sprint Review, the PO should also demonstrate the work done during the Sprint. 
Working on the Product Strategy

The Product strategy requires an ample amount of work to be done. The PO has to ensure the short and long term strategy and has to define the higher level backlog items such as epics and features, etc. The Product Strategy should also include the PO to prepare a product roadmap and review it with the shareholders. The product roadmap has to be structured in horizons such as long term, medium term, and short term plans. These are the plans that the Product Owner proposes to the shareholders after creating a product roadmap. 

  • The long-term plan includes the product vision and higher levels of epics which are a big set of functionality.
  • The medium-term plan includes a detailed list of features that has to be integrated into the product. The PO should get insights from the shareholders about the business value of the functionalities proposed.
  • The short-term plans are the functionalities that should be released in the upcoming months which will be available for the customers.
Becoming a Product Ambassador for a potential new client

The Product Owner has to endorse their company's product to be a potential new client and make them understand the business value, real-life application, and the value of the product. The PO acts as a person that has to sell the product and should market about all the features and benefits that the product would bring into the client's company. Every potential client is an opportunity for the company to grow, hence, becoming a product ambassador is a very important responsibility.

Meeting with shareholders

The Product Owner has to communicate with the Stakeholders about future development and the upcoming strategic moves to develop the value of the product. The communication can be formal or informal. This communication plays a major role in the development and delivery of the product and enhances the quality of the product. It also brings about many benefits to organizations such as customer satisfaction and increased business value.

During formal communications, the PO meets the Stakeholders inside a conference room where a proper presentation may be delivered or everyone on the team is allowed to express their opinion on the product creation. In Informal communication, the person may come up to the PO personally and have their impediments cleared and have more insights into the product increment. 

Working on the Product Backlog

The Product Backlog acts as a list of product increments such as user stories that have to be integrated into the product. It is the sole responsibility of the Product Owner to manage the Product Backlog. The PO has to constantly update the Product Backlog by prioritizing the needs of the product based on the current market trends, business value, and customer's needs. After each Sprint, a few items of the Product Backlog would be transferred to the Sprint Backlog, and the PO has to look out for the Product Backlog and is updated every day. 

In a few instances, the Product Owner should also decide quickly and reprioritize the user story either due to changes requested by the customer or because the developer faced a problem during the development of a user story. Quick and correct decisions are also a part of the PO's responsibilities.

Other Responsibilities

A Product Owner is a full-time job which can become intense and challenging for people. This schedule is just an interpretation of a Product Owner's day as there are many more activities that also have to be taken care of by the Product Owner. Reviewing the development cycles by the Developer after each Sprint and identifying any issues is also part of the job. As one product is being developed, there may also be a Sprint Meeting for the next release with the Business Owners. Creating a healthy and work driven environment by challenging the Developer with new ideas for the product may also be one of the tasks of the Product Owner.

Conclusion

The Product Owner's job consists of constant focus and dedication. It can also be fun and challenging to manage the priorities of the Product Backlog. This day schedule is just a few of the basic duties that have to be fulfilled by the Product Owner every day. There are many other roles that a Product Owner has to fulfill to become a successful Product Owner of a company. Every Product Owner may have their schedules designed differently based on their work needs and requirements. Individuals who possess the right skills and are interested in being busy with these responsibilities are potential professionals who can become an excellent Product Owner of a company.

References:

  1. https://medium.com/@anca_51481/hows-like-a-day-in-the-life-of-the-product-owner-e4d2fd52fc8b
  2. https://3back.com/infographic/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-product-owner/
  3. https://www.weareadam.com/blog/2018/06/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-product-owner
  4. https://productnerdz.com/product/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-product-owner/


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Author

Priyanka Datt

Has nearly 15 years of experience as a practitioner in the areas of Agile and Scrum. She delivers training and coaching programs for organisations and teams across the globe. She is helping budding Scrum Masters and Product Owners to learn and grow in their careers.