What does a Product Owner do?


A Product Owner is responsible for defining and designing a digital service. Companies need Product Owners since the rise of the internet. However, this job often remains a name on a paper. So concretely, what does a Product Owner do? What trainings and skills are required to succeed in this job? Discover all our insights.

1. What is a Product Owner?

A Product Owner is a Scrum project manager with IT skills. And in English? The Product Owner manages the design of digital tools such as websites, applications or even software by working closely with web developers, UX designers, and graphic designers. The Product Owner understands customer requirements and translates them into product requirements. To do so, the Product Owner follows a thorough method to divide the creation process into several small steps of a few weeks each, known as iterations. From the beginning, the first versions of the solution are submitted to the client. According to the customer’s new needs, the Product Owner can make modifications at any moment of the process.

The Product Owner acts as the primary point of contact between the technical team, the marketing team, the sales representative and the customers. The Product Owner ensures compliance with the allocated budget and the deadline. To sum it all up, the Product Owner is primary responsible for the design of a product.

2. What are the responsibilities of a Product Owner?

Both technical and creative, the Product Owner manages the product team with an agile method. He/she works with two main approaches  :

  • An operational approach: design and test the new features to improve a product;

  • A strategic approach: take a step back from the projects to ensure they comply with the company’s vision.

The Product Owner is first and foremost a manager. His/her primary responsibility is to manage his/her team according to scrum methodology.

Responsible for the product and acting as a spokesperson for the clients, a Product Owner must  :

  • Identify and prioritise a client’s needs and requirements: define the user target, its expectations and thus the product’s main features;

  • Update the product backlog, a kind of to-do-list to prioritise the various features to develop. At every stage (or iteration), the Product Backlog is evaluated and presented to the clients to ensure the final product or service fits user requirements;

  • Define User Stories, a short and clear description of the customer's needs, to make sure they can be done within the allocated budget;

  • Run User Tests to have initial client feedback in order to make the necessary adjustments, by taking into account the technical requirements and the developers' questions.

3. What are the skills of a Product Owner?

The main skills of a Product Owner are his/her knowledge of agile methodology. The Product Owner must be fluent in "informatics" language, and able to follow agile methodology. A Product Owner is not only computer-savvy; he/she must also have in-depth industry knowledge. Attentive to market trends, the Product Owner will be decisive in choosing a product’s improvements.

4. What are the soft skills of a Product Owner?

Soft skills are very important to succeed as a Product Owner. Here is a list of soft skills that will be of use to a Product Owner  :

  1. Communication skills: communicate the objectives and the priorities of a product to the development team and the other stakeholders;

  2. Customer focus: understand the customer requirements and expectations and define them with product functionality;

  3. Prioritising skills: determine the key elements and prioritise them according to the product’s objectives and the available resources;

  4. Be flexible: adapt quickly to the priority and market changes;

  5. Leadership skills: manage the development team while working closely with the other stakeholders to meet the product's objectives.

5. What training is required to become a Product Owner?

Product Owner is a fairly new profession, so there is no typical training to become Product Owner yet. However, engineering or business courses, as well as training in agile methodology (Scrum, Feature Driven Development, Lean Software Development, etc.), will provide you with good knowledge to start in digital project management. You call yourself a geek, graduated from a business or engineering school, and want to try your hand at project management? Product Owner could be the perfect match for you!

6. What is the role of a Product Owner?

The Product Owner is the main point of contact between his/her team and the rest of the company. The Product Owner works with technical and design teams to develop new features. The Product Owner also works with business development and marketing teams, who report new needs to feed the new roadmap.

Product Owner vs. Product Manager: what differences?

Both Product Owner and Product Manager are key roles in managing products. These jobs may look similar, but their responsibilities and priorities are slightly different.

  • On the one hand, the Product Owner exists only when the project follows agile methodology. The Product Owner works and acts on the project on a daily basis

  • On the other hand, the Product Manager is responsible for the long-term product strategy and the management of the product vision.

  • The Product Manager is responsible for the market search and understanding the needs of the clients to guide the product strategy.

7. What career paths are there for a Product Owner?

A Product Owner can progress to other positions:

  • Scrum Master: within a project development team, the Scrum Master is responsible for Scrum Methodology, a more precise development process within agile methodology.

  • Product Manager: an experienced Product Owner can advance to the more strategic Product Manager position.

  • Chief Product Officer/Head of Product: Chief Product Officer and Head of Product are responsible for accompanying, structuring and accelerating the economic growth of a company.

  • Co-founder of startups: Product Owner is a highly versatile job, so Owners tend to oversee projects linked to startups.

8 What is the salary of a Product Owner?

The salary of a Product Owner depends on the company he/she works for and, most of all, the project he/she manages. Of course, the higher the technical skills, the higher the salary of a Product Owner will be. Hence, a Product Owner earns between €3 to 5K per month depending on his/her experience, as you can see with our Societe Generale Product Owner’s offers.

  • The salary of a Junior Product Owner: €40K
  • The salary of an Experienced Product Owner: €45K
  • The salary of a Senior Product Owner: €70K

The adventure has just begun

At Societe Generale, we make sure that you can develop your career based on your ambition and abilities. After a position as a developer, you will have access to new opportunities such as :