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What It Means to Be a Product Owner

Today we use digital products for almost everything – it’s enough just to look at a number of apps installed on our phones. However, what do we really know about the creation of these products? We know that developers code. We know that designers are responsible for the visuals and UX/UI. But who’s in charge for the whole vision behind the product?

Product Owners are the real, usually not mentioned heroes. Don’t think of them as project managers. These people are the visionnaires creating the product concept and working with the team on executing it. “We are the ones responsible for both the vision and the strategic roadmap of how we’re going to achieve our goals”, says Aistė Araminaitė-Pivorė, a Product Owner (PO) here at Tesonet. We talked to her more about being a PO and the challenges one faces in this role.

 

Could you explain more what Product Owners do?
In a nutshell, it’s a role where you have to wear a lot of different hats. Product Owners are dedicated to think ahead and plan where the company’s products should be headed. The ultimate goal for us is to create something that is highly enjoyed by the users. And of course, something that serves business’ needs. So to achieve this, you have to do a lot of different things. You have to continuously look for ways how to improve the product. Which means that you’re always learning and doing loads of research while working with the development team.

 

So what does your day look like?

  • Cup of coffee + product statistics
  • Getting updates on work progress
  • Gathering market and competitor insights, talking with the teams and users, digging through the data with the help of business analysts and trying to make sense of all this info
  • Lunch 🙂
  • Thinking what is the next best thing we can do to improve the product based on insights mentioned above, aka brainstorm
  • Making to do lists for myself and my team (yes, this list is a part of the joke)
  • Getting everyone onboard with the next planned tasks
  • Go home and repeat

In a perfect world, this is what a day of a Product Owner should look like. Of course, we all know that life is a bit more chaotic, and some things just shift inevitably.

 

What are your key responsibilities as a Product Owner?
I see two essential things. First one, is making sure our customers are happier using our product today than the day before. This means that every day me and my team are looking for ways to improve what we’re creating, looking up the newest technologies and how we can use them to our advantage. It’s always about being up-to-date.

Another important thing is ensuring that my team is feeling excited about the product development. Product Owners have to be cheerleaders, in some way. Sports athletes have coaches that push and motivate them to do their best, and we do the same thing. Just with less pushups. Their productivity and creativity is increasing, when they’re happy with what they’re developing.

 

What are the biggest challenges you face as a PO? How do you overcome them?
Honestly I’m a bit chaotic person at heart. I’m one of those people packing for holidays 1 hour before the flight. So this becomes a bit of a problem when you’re a PO and have to plan in advance (laughs). How to overcome it? I think discipline is the answer. I’m just trying to be as organized as possible, and to-do lists are definitely one of the things that really help me. Want it or not, when you’re in a role like this, you learn how to effectively manage your time to be productive.

 

How does one become a Product Owner?
Since I already mentioned that making lists is in my nature, here’s another one:

  • You have to like people. And like working with many different people;
  • It’s an undeniable advantage if you can tell the future or have some insider knowledge what people will need. This would help a lot in short and long-term product development;
  • When 2 is not an option then make friends with the data and learn to make data-based decisions;
  • Apply some organisational skills to make things happen;
  • Care about what you do and create.

Honestly, those are all the ingredients you need. Everything else you can learn through practice and hard work.