GUIDE 2024

What Does a Product Owner Do?

All the members of an agile product development team have multiple responsibilities. Out of everyone in such a team, the product owner’s responsibilities and job description are probably the most diverse and important.

A product development team is radically different from one that operated even just five years ago. New technology and business methodologies have caused a dramatic shift in how product teams operate, while also making individual product managers and team positions highly sought after in the job sphere.

In case you’re looking to build a career as a product owner, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the position. To help you learn more about what a product owner does, in this article, we’ll provide a detailed explanation of the product owner’s job description, as well as their roles and responsibilities.  If you’re interested in learning via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

Let’s jump right in.

What does a Product Owner do?

A product owner is a product development team member who ensures that each product delivers the maximum value to the user. They usually hold the central position in each product development cycle. Additionally, they can operate in various roles within a cross-functional team.

An agile product owner can take on several roles in a scrum development capacity.

Some of these roles are:

  • Business strategist
  • User-centric product designer
  • Customer or business analyst
  • Market research manager
  • Project manager
  • Development team lead

Additionally, a product owner may also be required to ensure task management best practices to maintain agile methodology during development.

Product Owner Duties and Responsibilities

As mentioned, a product manager can sometimes be required to fill several roles, especially if the product calls for hands-on input from a singular expert.

Let’s take a look at these primary product owner responsibilities

1. Defining Project Vision

An agile product owner has to run point on the product development team from a strategic perspective.

A qualified product manager has high-level knowledge of product development goals and it is their responsibility to communicate those goals to the rest of the team.

Since they are the point person on the product team, they need to communicate with all the stakeholders, including the customers, development team members, and business managers.

This is to make sure that everyone involved in the product concept and lifecycle is up to speed on the product goals, and that those goals are in line with the business objectives.

To define the product vision, a product owner has to:

  • Maintain a cohesive and singular vision regarding the product
  • Adapt to the fast-paced and flexible nature of agile product development
  • Keep the stakeholders on the same page
  • Create an actionable product roadmap
  • Ensure the feasibility of the product concerning business objectives
  • Hold a customer-centric mindset and work as a customer representative

Overall, a product owner serves as a communication hub and a strategic guide for everyone involved with the product. If you’re interested in learning more about how to have expert-level communication as a product owner, take a look at our Product Owner Certification Course.

Great Product Owner

2. Product Backlog Management

The product backlog is a product team’s virtual to-do list for each product run.

A product owner is responsible for creating and maintaining the product backlog. They also need to ensure that the backlog stays up-to-date based on the evolving needs of the project and doesn’t become static.

Furthermore, a product owner has to make the backlog accessible to all parties involved with the product throughout the product development process.

To create an effective product backlog, they have to:

  • Come up with backlog items that align with larger business objectives
  • Prioritize these items based on the product strategy
  • Map out realistic project dependencies
  • Implement the most efficient sequence of development

Overall, a product owner needs to continuously work on ways to the product roadmap and optimize the backlog for the best possible product performance and business value. Becoming a certified product owner will help you gain a better understanding of this process.

3. Prioritizing Product Needs

Agile product development calls for teams to single out the agile project management needs and lay them out in terms of priority.

A product owner is responsible for coordinating with the rest of the scrum team members and prioritizing needs according to the scope, time, and budget triangle.

They do this by weighing each priority against the customer and stakeholder needs.

While prioritizing needs, a product owner:

  • Clearly defines any project constraints
  • Gauges which development areas have fewer constraints
  • Determines which deliverable will be put into development at which time
  • Repeats the prioritization process for each iteration of the product

Overall, a product owner has to ensure that the product development teams’ timeline is realistic. Once a timeline is developed, they have to enable the development team to stick to the timeline.

4. Development Stage Oversight

Once the business strategy, vision, and priorities have been set, a product owner needs to oversee the actual product throughout the development cycle.

This is an ongoing process that needs a significant amount of input from the project manager.

A product owner is a key player through each of the development events, including planning, process refinement, product review, and final sprint.

To oversee the development of product features, the product owner:

  • Works with the development team to identify, define, and organize the steps required for the next iterations
  • Meets with teams to refine the development process
  • Identifies any areas with the potential for improvements
  • Supports the product design sprint
  • Improves a product’s technical capabilities with the help of user feedback

Overall, the product owner has to keep an eye on development while continuously looking for ways such as user testing, product backlog refinement, and others, to make processes more efficient.

Requirements in a Product Owner Job Description

Here are some of the capabilities needed to fulfill the role of a product owner:

  1. High-level knowledge of agile software development
  2. Experience in project management
  3. Knowledge of user stories
  4. ​Ability to define any user stories
  5. Excellent communication skills, especially with customers and leadership
  6. An understanding of computer science principles (for software products)
  7. Continuous problem-solving ability
  8. Experience with scrum framework
  9. Some experience with functioning within agile teams

Furthermore, a product owner should know about the ever-changing nature of the software market. Rapidly evolving technology brings with it a unique set of challenges for development teams.

That, plus changing customer needs is often the reason for a product failing to carve out a presence in the market. While the agile methodology manages a lot of the challenges, the end product needs an expert overseeing its development.

This is where the capabilities of a product owner come in.

What to Look for in the Ideal Product Owner Role in 2024?

A product owner is a high-value position due to the required skill diversity.

In many ways, the responsibilities of a scrum product owner are similar to what you would find in a scrum master or product manager resume.

The only difference between the two is that product management is just one of the many roles a product owner has to fulfill.

Because of this, sometimes, job ads for product owners can be confusing—especially if you aren’t fully aware of what the position demands.

If you’re considering a career in product ownership, make sure you know the job description that comes with it.

Do your homework on the requirements and acceptance criteria of a product owner role and know for sure if you qualify before applying.

Final Remarks

In short, a product owner bridges the gap between stakeholders and development teams, ensuring the product vision aligns with customer needs and business goals. Product owners play a key role in delivering value and guiding the product through its lifecycle, making them indispensable to agile and Scrum teams. They prioritize features, manage the product backlog, and facilitate clear communication to drive successful product outcomes.


Here are answers to the questions that aspiring product owners frequently ask:

Is the product owner in a high position?

Yes, the product owner holds a high position within an agile team, responsible for defining the product vision, prioritizing the backlog, and ensuring the development team delivers value to customers and key stakeholders.

What is a product owner vs. a project manager?

A project manager oversees the planning, execution, and delivery of a project, ensuring it meets scope, time, and budget constraints. while a product owner focuses on maximizing product value by managing the backlog and setting priorities.

Who becomes a product owner?

A product owner comes from backgrounds in business analysis, product management, or related fields, with strong skills in strategic thinking, communication, and a deep knowledge of customer needs and market dynamics.

If you are new to product ownership and are looking to break into a great product owner role, we recommend taking our Product Owner Certification Course, where you will learn how to guide PM projects using scrum foundations, how to lead scrum teams, and landing a great product owner job.