How Can We Tell if the Product Owner Is Doing a Great Job?

A product development effort can significantly benefit from defining the ‘why’ and ‘what’ and involving developers in understanding and defining business outcomes.

The lack of collaborative spirit can significantly impede the success of a product development effort.

The ability of the product owner to be a bridge between the business and the technology and to facilitate the right conversations is crucial in driving the product in the right direction, maximising team potential, and ensuring the delivery of a product that meets objectives and user needs.

A great product owner ensures that products align with the broader business objectives, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive innovation within the organisation.

1.     Considering Long-Term Value:

Focusing too heavily on short-term gains, such as quick work item releases or immediate revenue boosts, can jeopardise the product’s long-term success.

This short-sighted approach might need more attention to building a sustainable and scalable product foundation, investing in core technologies, or nurturing a loyal user base.

A strategic product owner balances immediate wins with long-term goals, ensuring the product’s growth and relevance over time.

2.     Heavily Engage With Stakeholders and Focus on the ‘Why’:

Exceptional product owners maintain strong relationships with all stakeholders, including customers, team members, and higher management.

They bridge communication that includes needs, feedback, and changes between parties. The capacity to manage expectations, negotiate priorities, and ensure everyone is heard and valued is crucial for harmonious and productive stakeholder interactions.

3.     Acting on User Feedback and Validating Value:

Failing to incorporate user feedback into the development process is another significant oversight. Product owners might sometimes be so focused on delivering according to the planned roadmap that they miss the valuable insights actual users provide.

Regularly gathering, analysing, and acting on user feedback ensures the product evolves in a direction that meets user needs and expectations.

4.     Focus on the ‘What’:

A product owner needs to concentrate on defining, together with the team and the stakeholders, ‘what’ needs to be built instead gets involved in dictating ‘how’ developers should do their work.

This mistake can undermine the team’s expertise and autonomy, leading to demotivation, repressed creativity, and potentially less efficient or innovative solutions.

The strength of the teams lies in collaboration, with the product owner guiding the vision and work items and the team leveraging their technical skills to determine the best way to implement them.

5.     Engage Developers in Business Outcomes:

When product owners do not involve the developers in understanding their work’s broader business goals and outcomes, it can result in a disconnect between the team’s efforts and the product’s vision and product goal.

Developers may focus solely on the technical side without appreciating their impact on user satisfaction, business value, or market positioning.

This lack of engagement can lead to misaligned priorities, functionalities not meeting user needs, or missed opportunities to innovate and add value.

6.     Highly Collaborative Approach:

Without working closely with the team to clarify and refine the product vision, purpose, and goal, the product owner may raise a risk of misinterpretation, lack of alignment, and decreased morale.

Collaboration is critical to developing a shared understanding and sense of ownership over the product, which drives motivation, quality, and a unified direction.

When this collaboration is absent, the product can lack coherence, and the team may struggle to work towards a common goal effectively.

The accountability of a product owner extends far beyond defining tasks and releases. It’s about leading with vision, fostering collaboration, adapting to change, empowering the team, focusing on the customer, and making data-driven decisions.

A product owner who excels in these areas drives the product forward and elevates the entire team, contributing to a culture of excellence and innovation. This approach ensures the product meets and exceeds expectations, creating lasting value for users and stakeholders.