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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.

The Career Path Of A Scrum Product Owner

When it comes to successfully developing a software program (called as a Product in the Scrum Framework) the team composition plays a critical role. Although stakeholders such as developers or testers are vital, the Product Owner, a business representative on an Agile project, plays an even more critical role. Communicating customer requirements while also taking into account the requirements of a business and a team is somewhat of an art that a Product Owner seeks to master. With organizations adopting the Scrum Framework more than ever before, following the Product Owner career path is a highly lucrative choice. And the exposure will allow individuals to better handle business requirements and master the art of decision-making, with precision.

Although several roles add up to the effectiveness of the Team, the Product Owner (also known by its acronym PO), plays a crucial role. A Product Owner acts as the "value maximizer" of the Product and ensures that the product features are well-defined to the Developers and highly valuable for the customers.

Generally, the duties of the Product Owner can include the following,

  • Defining the goals and vision of the Product to the team
  • Creating a product roadmap
  • Managing the product backlogs.
  • Acting as the connection between the team and the stakeholders.
  • Identifying areas of improvement.
  • Overseeing the different development stages of the Product.
  • Foreseeing the needs of the Client.

Let's take a look at the different stages in the career path of a Product Owner and how their responsibilities may change over time.

Product Owner Career Path

A Product Owner career path has various stages that prepare them to take up larger responsibilities as they progress. The Product Owner career ladder enables the professional to fully appreciate the importance of effective and efficient communication between the various stakeholders. It also helps build decision-making abilities and allows the professional to master the art of leadership.

Business Analyst

A Business Analyst, also known as BA, acts as a liaison between the IT department and the business units. Although there isn't a Business Analyst role in the Scrum Framework, many individuals pursue this career path once they are a Junior PO. Additionally, some individuals become a Business Analyst to gain technical knowledge and then try for a PO certification.

Business Analysts are responsible for understanding and listing the end-user requirements and communicating them to the Developers. They may also work closely with software testers and technical writers, all while broadening their expertise.

Project Manager

Although many confuse a Project or Product Manager to a Product Owner, they aren't the same. However, some of their duties may coincide with each other. A Project Manager will be responsible for planning and managing development.

In terms of the Scrum Framework, a Project Manager can also play the roles of a Scrum Master. They negotiate with the primary Stakeholders and are responsible to help the Developers for defining the development approach and timeline. 

Although Project Managers don't have a universally defined role, they are responsible for overseeing the project and ensuring that the deadlines are met. The role is internally focused and will require the coordination of multiple teams.

However, the Scrum Framework doesn't recognize the roles of a Project Manager. Since the product life cycle will be always longer than the project lifecycle, it is safe to say that a Product Owner has higher authority than Project Managers on the product; and the latter will be responsible for reporting to the former in case a Project Manager exists.

Product Manager

A Product Manager focuses on the product-market fit and can understand and represent the needs of the end-user. They define the Product's vision and keep an eye on the changing market trends.

Product Managers are responsible for prioritizing product features and building trust and respect among the team members. Product Managers are also responsible for performing competitive analyses and aligning the development with the Clients vision.

Depending on the level of experience, a Product Manager can be an Associate Product Manager or a Senior Product Manager. Both Product Managers and Senior Product Managers can also be considered as proxies for the Product Owner.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

A Senior Product Owner has the experience and industry knowledge to become the CEO of a company. Although it may take years to attain this position, the expertise that comes along with it is immeasurable. A CEO will know everything there is to know about Product development and value maximization.

They will be focused on delivering the Product at the right time, meeting all the Client requirements. They will know how to provide the highest quality product with a high return on investment (ROI), all while giving a pivotal role for the end-users.

Conclusion

All in all, the Product Owner career path is a highly lucrative one to follow and will enable you to utilize your leadership skills. You can witness all aspects of Product Development, starting with its inception to end-product delivery.

You can be well-moulded into a Product Owner if you have the needed industry knowledge, communication, and problem-solving skills and, most importantly, have the agility to quickly resolve any form of conflicts.

As a Product Owner, you"ll be both a Stakeholder and a Product Manager. You can start your endeavor to become a Product Owner by gaining the needed technical expertise as a Software Tester or a Business Analyst, getting a Product Owner certification, and then applying as a Junior Product Owner.

Once you get into the industry as a Product Owner, progressing from the junior to expert level will take a considerable time, but you"ll be learning a lot in the process. Remember, there isn't a shortcut- it all depends on the efforts you chip in and how efficient you are in creating valuable products.

Also a Product Owner is a highly collaborative position, working with stakeholders and Developers and is accountable for the decisions made on the product.

References
  1. https://www.scrum.org/resources/blog/2-mins-faq-what-career-path-scrum-product-owner-0

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Author

Paula

Is a passionate learner and blogger on Agile, Scrum and Scaling areas. She has been following and practicing these areas for several years and now converting those experiences into useful articles for your continuous learning.