Things that remote teams expect from the product owner

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Modern digital product development methods require a flexible approach. It is much more efficient than the old school cascade with a clearly defined approach, which cannot be deviated easily. The principle of the flexible methodology is the opposite. It’s iterative, requires competent prioritization, and product changes on demand are justified.

It would seem that this approach should cause chaos in the project team because everyone is trying to express their opinion influencing the product vision, but it’s not true. To avoid this chaos, there should always be a decision-maker in the development team.

To deliver a product, the development team should be led by the person who shares the vision and strategy. This could be CEO, Investor, or any other representative who gives his opinion on everything related to the scope, features, and overall strategy. In Agile and Scrum methodologies, they called Product Owners.

The product owner is the person who manages the creation of the product and is responsible for what happens as a result. A competent product owner combines the roles of a business strategist, market analyst, product designer, and user.


The Product owner is responsible for most of the operations in product development.

1. Product Vision Determination

The product owner is responsible for communication with the software owner, advising on certain features of the product, as well as a vision that would meet the current business objectives.

The presence of the Product Owner on the project guarantees to the customer that the agile team will adhere to the vision set by the software owner. For this purpose, the product team creates a product roadmap (roadmap) — a short or long-term plan for project execution, changes, and development.

The Product Owner is responsible to do it on the beginning of the project.

2. Product backlog management

It’s also the responsibility of the Product Owner. A backlog is a list of tasks for a development team, which can vary depending on the project needs. Both the product owner and the developer can change the backlog. Here, the duty of the Product Owner is to compile a list of tasks and prioritize their execution in accordance with the customer’s business tasks.

Prioritize backlog according to business value is what the Product Owner does every week.

3. Product needs prioritization

Prioritizing needs is an integral part of the agile process. It also depends on the business objectives of the customer and the timing of the project release. For example, if a product under development has to be launched within 6 months, the Product Owner has to determine which main functions should be included in its MVP (minimum viable product) and, based on this, decide how iterations could be built and changed if needed. Prioritization of needs also depends on the business objectives of the software owner.

A Product Owner should be able to determine the priority of product backlog items in order to deliver the maximum outcome every week.

4. Control at all stages of development

When the vision, strategy, and priorities of a product are established, careful control over development is required. The Product Owner observes the iteration process, holds weekly development stands, planning, retrospectives, analyzes performance, and sets deadlines for the next sprint in which the team will be ready to show the valuable realized part of the product. Once the sprint is planned, it’s up to him what should be released.

Make sure the backlog structure is up-to-date: Versions, Components, Epics, Areas, Items type policy. Use Project Tracking Tools (like Trello) every day.

5. Development of product strategy together with the software owner

A competent Product Owner is also an expert analyst who works on a product strategy together with the customer. Forming a product strategy, the product owner works with user feedback, conducts market research, product strategies of similar products, and examines their performance. Such expertise shows that the product owner understands market trends, can anticipate product problems, and solve them.

Update product roadmap every month in accordance with their feedback.

6. Effective communication with customers and developers

The product owner communicates with both the customer and the developers. It must have the skills of an excellent communicator so that the tasks assigned by the customer are clearly explained to the project team. The efficiency of the process depends on how clearly the tasks and deadlines are formed. In other words, here, the product owner is responsible for harmony between the customer and the developers.

The Product Owner helps the delivery team/development team understand the vision and the requirements every day.

7. Product progress assessment

Evaluating the effectiveness of each iteration is another area of responsibility of the product owner. It determines how well a particular task has been completed and determines whether to start the next sprint or make modifications.

The product owner monitors how the development team works on the priorities and tracks the progress of the items over the course of a sprint every week.

When the team is distributed, how is it different?

When people are working remotely, from different places, the product owner takes more responsibilities, and it’s important to build the process so that everyone is on the same side despite the time difference, languages and workflows within the teams.

Here is the list of responsibilities when it comes to real, every day tasks of the Product owner, when working remotely:

  • Identifies the demands and goals of stakeholders
  • Prioritizes the backlog and development following an overall strategy
  • Contributes to the preparation, execution, and analysis for each sprint
  • Generates and manages a backlog list
  • Cooperates with the team to make the development processes better
  • Understands the needs of clients and share their vision with the team
  • Supervises the development stages
  • Has an in-depth understanding of the market
  • Creates customer journey and user stories
  • Balances scope, budget, and time on the project
  • Creates the product roadmap
  • Keeps product in line with business goals involving all the parties like clients, investors, etc.
  • Delivers clear instructions to the developers
  • Determines whether the final project is acceptable
  • Verifies and clarifies the tickets
  • Inspects and assesses product progress through each iteration

We can see that the product owner is an essential element in the team’s flexible development process. He is the one who coordinates the developers’ actions, communicates with the customer, identifies the main needs of the product, and is responsible for the final version of the product.

Paul Keen is an Open Source Contributor and a Chief Technology Officer at JetThoughts. Follow him on LinkedIn or GitHub.

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