GUIDE 2024

Essential Product Owner Skills in 2024

Product owner plays a central role in agile product development philosophy and scrum for development teams. The product owner (PO) workforce crossed 6,140 and is still on the rise. It is a diverse role that requires a mix of several skills and experience for high performance. You can’t expect a PO to do a great job if they have no relevant skills and abilities.

So, what are the essential product owner skills in 2024 that enhance a PO’s effectiveness and ability to see customer needs and maximize product value? If you’re interested in learning more via video then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

Before you jump to the necessary skills a product owner must have, you need to understand the product owner’s role and major responsibilities.

Essential Product Owner Skills

A product owner requires a mix of technical and soft skills to be successful in the workplace. The skills a product owner needs to succeed change over time with changes in technology so it is essential to keep updating the skill set according to the latest market trends and happenings.

Here is a list of the essential product owner skills in 2024:

1. Analytical Skills

It is the key skill that a product owner can’t survive without. It refers to the ability to collect and analyze information, solve complex problems rationally, and make decisions on time for enhanced productivity. Wikipedia defines analytical skill as:

“The ability to deconstruct information into smaller categories to conclude.”

The product owner has to critically analyze problems and identify possible innovative solutions quickly. Backlog project management, for instance, requires analytical skills because the PO must prioritize tasks and items in the backlog. Identifying which items to prioritize based on their relevance, importance, and linkage with other items in the backlog is a task that can’t be done without analytical skills.

It consists of subcategories including critical thinking, logical reasoning, data analysis, creativity, and research. So, it is a mix of multiple skills that are all related to logical thinking that is used for solving complex problems:

It isn’t just limited to solving a problem after research and critical thinking but it involves the communication of the solution to the development team effectively.

This shows how essential analytical skills are for a successful product owner as it is linked to problem-solving and critical thinking. You can’t become a great PO if you can’t critically analyze and solve complex problems daily.

2. Communication Skills

According to the Scrum Guides, one of the tasks that a product owner is responsible for is creating and communicating product backlog items and communicating product goals with cross-functional teams.

Communication is an absolute must-have skill for a scrum product owner.

If they can’t communicate effectively, the final product will eventually fail. It isn’t just about creating and prioritizing backlog items rather the PO must communicate the same to the scrum team, scrum master, and stakeholders. When working on a large project that involves multiple teams and departments, the need to communicate increases exponentially.

Communication skill is defined as the ability to use language to express and share information. It is the ability to communicate in one’s mother tongue and being able to express one’s feelings and ideas. It includes verbal and non-verbal communication across all channels and mediums.

Effective communication means that the product owner understands:

  • How to encode the message using a language that the receiver can understand easily
  • What channel to use (oral, email, video, and others)
  • How to craft the message to ensure clarity
  • The feedback from the receiver and then re-craft the message again to address feedback and issues
  • How to minimize noise during communication for effective message delivery.

A product owner must be exceptionally good at communication because it is what they’re supposed to do daily.

If you’re interested in learning the skills to become a great product owner, check out our Product Owner Certification course.

Great Product Owner

3. Technical Skills

The product owner has a technical role. You can’t become a great PO if you don’t know the ins and outs of development, design, agile framework, software development, scrum approach, and IT infrastructure. Technical skill is a specialized skill that is used to perform a specific task such as programming and software development.

According to Zippia, the user interface is the most common product owner skill that was requested in 19.1% of jobs posted on the platform.

The user interface skill, in this case, refers to an understanding of design standards and user interface testing, designing, and application. It is a purely technical skill that is related to the work a product owner has to perform.

There are several technical skills, besides user interface knowledge, that a product owner must possess:

  • Scrum and agile software development methodologies
  • Software development
  • Coding and designing
  • Product development architecture
  • UX knowledge and principles
  • Product backlog understanding and project management
  • User stories knowledge
  • Ability to use tools and apps

The agile product owner must be technically sound because backlog management and prioritization are technical tasks. It can’t be done effectively if the PO doesn’t understand the development and design processes and has no knowledge of how software development works.

4. Decision-Making Skills

The product owner is in a decision-making role. Being responsible and accountable for the product, the PO has to make several decisions daily ranging from what items to include in the product backlog, how to prioritize them, and how to best communicate the same to the scrum team.

Decision-making skills are one of the most essential skills that have to be built-in in a PO. They must make decisions without much thinking and this comes from analytical thinking (as discussed above).

It is a process that consists of several steps where you select one of the many available alternatives. The steps usually include defining a problem, identifying different alternatives, selecting and implementing the best alternative, and evaluating results:

Decision-making is a subset of problem-solving skills. For every problem that a product owner faces, They must go through the decision-making steps from problem identification to its solution and implementation. This is something that product owners have to do daily.

A product owner must have exceptional decision-making and problem-solving skills and that too should be based on analytical and critical thinking. A PO must be logical and reasoned and his/her decisions must not be based on assumptions and/or judgment.

5. Project Management Skills

A product owner isn’t a project manager but they must have project management skills. Since a PO has to manage and lead agile product development projects and teams, therefore, having project management skills is essential.

Project management for project managers is the ability to apply knowledge, skills, techniques, and tools to achieve project goals and meet project requirements effectively.

Project management has five processes:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and controlling
  5. Closing

A PO performs all of these tasks when working with the product development team. They define the product vision, order backlog items, prioritize them, monitor and control the product development process, and finally close the project when finished. They have product ownership which means they own the project and are responsible for its success (or failure).

6. Collaboration Skills

A product owner doesn’t work alone. They are part of the software development team, work with them, and are constantly in contact with the team. It is essential for the success of the product and its maximum value optimization that the PO works closely with the development team. The closer they are, the better.

And this requires a strong understanding of collaboration skills that aren’t the same as communication skills. Collaboration is defined as working with others to achieve a common goal. In this case, the common goal is to maximize product value.

Collaboration and teamwork require several skills including communication and emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the key skill that a PO must possess to work effectively in the team. It is the ability to understand other people’s emotions and to have control over one’s emotions. It has several benefits such as:

  • Increased leadership ability of the product owner
  • Improved team performance
  • Improved decision-making of the team

The product owner must be emotionally intelligent and know how to be part of a team. They need to understand team members, their strengths and weaknesses, and ensure emotional connection. Product development isn’t all about getting work done by the scrum development team. They’re humans and must be dealt with smartly to avoid hiccups.

The collaboration isn’t just limited to the development team. The PO needs to actively engage with the stakeholders too. This includes both the same team and internal and external stakeholders. So, a PO is part of several teams and they need to sit in all the stakeholder meetings.

Having the ability to collaborate, teamwork, and emotional intelligence skills makes the product owner an effective and influential part of the team. It helps him/her get the work done on time every time.

7. Other Skills

This doesn’t end here. The 6 skills discussed above are absolute must-haves for any PO. There are, however, several other key product skills in 2024 that are needed for success. These include:

  1. Product development
  2. Product management
  3. Project management
  4. Product vision
  5. Business analyst
  6. Storytelling
  7. Leadership and management
  8. Responsibility
  9. Flexibility and adaptability
  10. Time management
  11. Creativity
  12. Domain knowledge

What is a Product Owner’s Role?

A PO is responsible for product value maximization and backlog management. They own the product and must ensure that all the technical aspects of the product and its features meet user and business requirements. Communication and collaboration with the agile team are a major part of the product owner’s routine.

You can check out the complete list of tasks that a product owner performs including everything ranging from product goal definition to stakeholder management to full product lifecycle responsibility across all levels.

Enhance Your Skills to Become a Better Product Owner

If you are trying to become a product owner, these 6 skills are necessary to have. You can learn, develop, and polish these skills – all of them.

Technical skills are easier to develop such as software development and technology skills. You can take relevant courses and certifications to advance your technical skills. The product owner isn’t an entry-level position so you must have relevant experience in programming, software development process, agile methodology, agile scrum framework, business development, project management, and others. If you have experience, you’ll not struggle with technical skills.

Soft skills are hard to acquire. For example, developing emotional intelligence, improving communication and collaboration skills, and polishing your analytical skills require a lot of hard work and practice. This is the hard part. You need to focus on improving your soft skills as these provide you with a competitive edge.

If you are hiring a product owner, look for a complete package. Look for a candidate who possesses most of the soft skills (as mentioned above). Technical skills can be learned quickly but if your chosen candidate lacks a key soft skill, it will get very hard for him/her and you to develop that skill.


Here are answers to the questions about product owners:

What skills does a product owner need?

A product owner needs strong communication and stakeholder management skills to articulate the product vision and priorities. Proficiency in agile methodologies and project management methodologies is essential for effectively guiding the development team. They must have a deep understanding of the market and user needs, as well as the ability to translate these into actionable requirements.

What are the 3 main responsibilities of product owners?

The three main responsibilities of product owners are defining and prioritizing the product backlog, ensuring clear communication of business vision, product goals, and requirements to the development team, and making key decisions to guide product development.

What are the 3 basic criteria for choosing a product owner?

The three basic criteria for choosing a product owner are a deep understanding of the product and market, strong communication and leadership skills, and proficiency in agile methodologies.

Which of the following is a key skill for a product owner?

A key skill for a product owner is strong communication. Effective communication ensures that the product vision, requirements, and priorities are conveyed to the development team and stakeholders, facilitating alignment and successful product delivery.

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.

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the co-founder of Product HQ, founder of Technical Writer HQ, and founder and head of product of Squibler. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.