As a Product Owner you are expected to coordinate and lead. Incorporating continuous learning into your catalog of regular duties will make you a skilled PO and, in time, you will know which tools to use to increase efficiency, work with happy teams and satisfy your clients.
- Fact 1: The Product Owner is the single person who is responsible for the success of a product and for maximizing the value of that product.
- Fact 2: The Product Owner is responsible for motivating their team and making sure everyone stays on track.
- Fact 3: A successful Product Owner is a dolphin. Yes, you did read that correctly! Let me explain.
A dolphin only goes under water for a short period of time before having to resurface. Just like a dolphin, the PO must remain on the surface & visible. Staying under water for too long means losing contact with customers and clients. But, staying on the surface too long may cause product attention deficit.
Allow me to help you master Product Owner responsibilities so you can maximize the value for your product (& effort). I will also happily list some resources I have used myself and found effective in building successful relationships with both the team and stakeholders.
You can also watch the Product Owner webinar I hosted some time ago.
Learn to be a Dolphin
There is plenty of information out there and not all of it is exactly worth spending time on. So, I’ve listed some resources below that I found useful throughout my evolution as a Product Owner. They are resources I used and found insightful, along with excerpts from recommendations coming from my mentors or different trainers I interacted with at conferences, courses and workshops.
Take your time, browse the resources, and pave your own path towards becoming a more efficient and skilled PO.
The Product Owner Role
Roman Pichler’s blog – These online articles have valuable information. The comments are pure gold because you can read opposing opinions to form your own while definitely learning some new tips and tricks to apply directly to your projects.
Agile Product Management with Scrum by Roman Pichler – The book goes even more in detail (than the blog) about PO and PM roles. It is a great read, especially for people new to these positions.
User Stories Applied by Mike Cohn – This is a helpful tool for learning how to write good user stories and how to start a conversation with your team.
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman – This book will help you realize how important empathy is and what an important role emotional intelligence plays in a leader’s path.
Teamwork & What Motivates People
Drive by Daniel H. Pink – In this provocative and persuasive book, the author asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction – at work or at home – is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world. Since the Product Owner works with the stakeholders, users and team, it is important to deeply understand what stands behind their motivation.
The Truth about Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni – This book identifies the three items that make people more engaged and involved at work and you can apply some of those items in the relationship with your teams.
The Outward Mindset by The Arbinger Institute – This book can help Product Owners move towards a mindset focused on others and on their needs.
Managing the Product
From a product related perspective, there are quite a lot of books that make a difference. I particularly liked the following ones:
Hooked by Nir Eyal– If you are looking for inspiration to discover a different direction as PO, this is the book for you. It helps you better understand the market and what motivates users.
Crossing the Chasm by G Moore – Although this one is an early book on product development, it includes insights on market segments and the process of launching a product.
Inspired – How to create products customers love by Marty Cagan – This resource highlights the main principles in product development and the steps you need to take to build products that meet the users’ needs.
How we decide by Johan Lehrer – You will discover some very interesting insights into the decision making process and this would definitely contribute to a better understanding of the users and how/why they choose a particular product.
The Innovator’s dilemma by Clayton Christensen – This resource is helpful in product discovery and determining a products’ life-cycle.
Don’t make me think by Steve Krug – This book will help Product Owners understand more about user experience and UX practices. This ensures a more user focused perspective when thinking about the product and discussing with Designers.
Working with Prototyping and UX
There are a lot of tools available to use for prototyping and creating mock-ups. Your selection should be based on how much time you can allocate to this, how detailed you want them to be or what the purpose of their creation is.
Balsamiq – This is very easy to use, with predefined elements you can add to your mock-ups and will certainly do the job.
Justinmind – This is a dynamic prototyping tool with a free version (limited features available) and an enterprise version available that allows you to host everything on your own servers.
Axure – In my opinion, this is the best tool for mock-ups and prototyping. It is much more complex that the others I listed and offers a lot of flexibility. It takes a bit more time to get accustomed to and to discover all its features, but it is well worth the effort.
Among the best product management tools on the market, among the most noteworthy are:
These are all great for road mapping and tracking the progress of features. All are quite visual, structured and easy to use. They help a Product Owner or Product Manager prioritize better, plan better and make well informed decisions regarding the entire product.
If you need something to track the stories, functionalities and progress of the teams, I recommend using Jira and Confluence. They offer an overview of each sprint and give you the option to manage the backlog.
One thing to keep in mind is that these sources are not an exhaustive list and there are so many more useful tools out there. This is only the beginning! It is important to be curious and willing to learn more to improve continuously.
On the same topic, you can also read: