10 Top Skills to be a Successful Product Owner

While being a moderately successful Product Owner isn’t a very hard task, it is quite difficult to accumulate enough characteristics of a great Product Owner. Product Owners have to lead an entire team from inception to the end product, and it is in no way an easy task.

Product Owner and his team

For those who are completely new to this domain, or wish to gain more credibility in this field, there are numerous options to help them out. What one must have for a great Product Owner experience is the CSPO training, which ensures that you are well versed in Agile and Scrum, which is of paramount importance for any such role.

Let’s discuss the top 5 major skills that every key Product Owner should have, to make for a successful project experience.

1. Developer

Being part of the development team involves getting into the development process, and this requires that you accept your role of developer. While putting up clear and separate roles help in teaching Scrum, it does little for the application of these teachings. This requires you to constantly sharpen your developer skills, and keep in touch with major concepts. To give you a competitive edge, make use of the CSPO certification, which is bound to prove your worth in the team, both as a leader and as a developer.

2. Analytical Thinking

This is a very important skill, that sets a great product owner apart. An analytical thinker can almost always solve a problem that comes their way and is able to provide a comprehensive assessment of a business problem or requirement. This can be done by:

  • Gathering as much information about the issue at hand as available.
  • Organizing and integrating all the pieces in a comprehensive manner.
  • Formulating insights and ideas.
  • Writing down appropriate conclusions from all these insights.
  • Understanding that this is but a foundation for you to build on.

3. Exceed Customer Expectation

A good Product Owner meets customer expectations. A great product owner exceeds them. You are not just filling in an administrative role. Your task is to add value to what the stakeholder wants and discover latent needs or features that they had never even thought of. Think beyond the usual requirements, and do not be satisfied with a simple “it works”. Go beyond the usual steps, and see how you can add value to a product.

4. Split the Product into smaller slices

Great Product Owners can take a good product idea, and split it into a number of smaller story blocks. This will help you to find the parts of every story, feature or project that are of low value or high value. This allows you to prioritize high value tasks, and avoid making components that do not deliver value to the product. This effectively brings down the risk in each sprint and enables faster completion and feedback.

5. Visionary

Have a clear vision between the small backlog items, and the end business goal. One very popular way to write a vision is a variation on the famous elevator pitch format, from Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. The format goes as follows:

My product/service is…

FOR (target customers)

WHO (need or are dissatisfied with)

Product name IS (a new category)

THAT provides (key problem solving capabilities).

UNLIKE (alternative way of meeting the requirements).

OUR PRODUCT (how it’s better for the customer than the alternative)

This makes you answer a lot of questions and forms a vision in your mind about the product, which gives you a sense of accountability and goal.

5. Can fill different roles

A successful product owner can fit into multiple roles as and when needed. These roles include:

  • Domain Expert: Should have enough knowledge about the domain to guide and ask the right questions
  • Entrepreneur: Get ready to come up with innovative solutions to mundane tasks
  • Business Specialist: Be familiar with business models, and when to apply them to maximize product success

Inculcate These Skills to Be a Successful Product Owner

These are a few major skills every product owner must possess to be successful in his role. The goal and vision of a great Product Owner is that the project goes smoothly, and without delay. With these skills in your arsenal, there will be no stopping you!


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