Five Skills Product Owner Should Have in a Mobile Development Team
Five Skills Product Owner Should Have in a Mobile Development Team
Communication is always key!
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To deal with all the uncertainty that comes with writing code, today’s software engineers have conglomerated into agile teams, where each member takes on a particular role that suits their skills.
One of the most important roles is that of product owner, the liaison between the software engineers and the rest of the business.
Given the importance of this responsibility, product owners need to have several skills that enable them to do their job. Some of these skills are a must-have, while others might be more of a luxury.
The million-dollar question is whether technical know-how and coding skills are a necessity for product owners or these skills fall into the nice-to-have pile.
You may also like: How To Be a Great Product Owner.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Product Owner in the First Place?
So, what exactly does a product owner do? The simplest analogy you can think of is that of a ship:
If each member on a software development team is like a crew member on a ship, then the product owner is the one who’s responsible for making sure that the ship stays on course and gets to its destination on time.
They are the captain of the ship.
What does that entail?
A product owner needs to understand the business vision driving the development of the product as well as the required steps to attain this vision.
This understanding will enable them to communicate the overall goal and vision to the rest of the team, getting everybody on the same page.
As the product is being built, they will collect feedback from key stakeholders and users, and relay that feedback to the team along with any necessary course corrections.
What Skills Are a Necessity for a Product Owner?
To be successful at relaying that information and making sure the project stays on course, product owners will benefit from having a few key skills:
A product owner is not just an intermediary between the development team and the outside world but is usually also the leader who sets the priorities and directs the rest of the team.
Therefore, you must be an effective communicator who can handle different teams and varying personality types if you wish to be an efficient product owner.
Software engineers on an agile team will look to the product owner when times are tough or when there seems to be some uncertainty about the project they are working on.
As a product owner, you need to be present at every meeting and to take ownership of the entire process, which is what any good leader should do.
You need to display a commitment to the project, to the vision, to the team, and to the entire business at all times.
You must appreciate the fact that a large part of the project’s success or failure rests on your shoulders and your ability to handle all issues that come along the way.
Knowing How to Prioritize
Prioritizing isn’t just about knowing the order in which activities ought to be carried out; it is also about knowing when to say no to certain tasks or jobs that are outside of the scope of the project.
Being able to say no to certain tasks and jobs is easier said than done, especially in software development where the end-user and the business have a habit of offering a plethora of ideas and putting in more and more requests to the development team at every corner.
If you can’t say no, the project could drag on indefinitely, going both past its budget and beyond its deadline, and there still won’t be any guarantee that the project will achieve the vision it set out to attain.
Whenever a business carries out a project, including developing a piece of software, there are a few critical points that need to be addressed.
The first of which is figuring out why this product is being built in the first place. What purpose is it serving or what need is it satisfying?
Another point to consider is the market and how receptive it will be to the product, which can only be ascertained through thorough market analysis.
A good product owner must be able to answer all the above questions.
Only then will they have a more holistic understanding of the project, a clearer idea of how to lead the team during times of uncertainty, and an appreciation of which tasks serve the core purpose of the project and which tasks are more of a distraction.
Interest in Software Technology
Seeing as the product owner is an intermediary, not only must they know the “why” behind their product, but they must also understand the “how.”
They should be well aware of what is and isn’t possible along with how long a given task should normally take.
To acquire this know-how, they should keep up with the latest trends, which are AI and IoT in this day and age, as well as have a fundamental understanding of integral concepts to software development, including object orientation and architecture principles.
So, Knowing How to Code Is a Necessity?
Just because a product owner needs to have a basic idea about software engineering doesn’t mean that they have to be an expert coder.
The answer to how important it is for a product owner to have deep technical knowledge is the dreaded “It depends.”
If they are responsible for a product that will be delivered to end-users (a mobile app for example), then they don't have to be an expert coder.
They only need to ensure that the user experience is up to par and that the program is functional.
On the other hand, should the software development team be working on a technical product (say a program that will integrate with another program, such as physics engine that will be integrated into a game), then writing code will be a welcome skill.
It will enable them to formulate technical requirements as well as establish the software interfaces.
Even though some product owners might feel relieved at the fact that they don’t have to master coding any time soon, this doesn’t absolve them from having to pick up the skill at some point.
In today’s competitive world, constant growth is no longer a luxury, and every employee must continuously to retain their value in the market.
Just like every other professional, product owners will also benefit from learning something new. Enriching their technical knowledge helps them in the long run.
Along with facilitating the collaborative element between them and the rest of the development team, it makes that much easier for the product owner to win both the respect of the developers and the trust of the business.
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