Product owner job description

Andrew Fennell Andrew Fennell

Product owners plan and manage software development products from start to finish.

Ultimately, they guide products to success by managing a team, prioritising and delegating tasks and  working closely with users and customers to ensure products meet their needs.

This complete guide includes a full product owner job description and details everything else you need to know about product owners, such as average salaries, required skills, typical employers and more.

 

Guide contents

  • Product owner job description
  • How much do product owners earn?
  • What does a product owner do?
  • Requirements, skills and qualifications
  • Who employs product owners?
  • Which junior jobs progress to product owner roles?

 

Product owner job description

Product owner | Tech Solutions UK

 

About Tech Solutions UK

We deliver dedicated IT solutions to a range of clients across the construction, insurance, leisure and financial sectors; creating bespoke high-quality, secure software that streamlines businesses, saves time and makes money.

 

About the role

As the product owner, you will report to the scrum master to lead the creation and development of key products for clients in a truly agile IT environment. You’ll put yourself in our client’s shoes to provide vision and solutions that meet their needs and business requirements.

 

Responsibilities

  • Taking ownership and accountability for multiple product projects
  • Implementing key Agile/SCRUM frameworks and methodologies
  • Communicating with development teams to share product vision and priorities
  • Developing an agreed set of priorities and backlog in line with client priorities
  • Implementing and monitoring delivery timelines across departments
  • Assessing client’s competitor’s offerings and pinpointing opportunities for differentiation
  • Regularly communicating progress on projects and deliverables to clients

 

Location & commitments

  • Full-time, permanent role based in London
  • 40 hours per week – flexi-time between 7 am and 6 pm available
  • Overtime work occasionally required to support product timelines – time off given in lieu
  • Regular national travel is required to visit clients

 

Candidate requirements

Essential:

  • 3+ years of experience in a product owner role or similar within an agile setting
  • Advanced understanding of digital and IT product management and development
  • Proven experience overseeing all stages of the product development lifecycle
  • Capable of leading and motivating others whilst working cross-functionally
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, both written and verbal

Desirable:

  • Educated to degree level in a business or technology subject
  • Recognised agile or SCRUM certifications
  • Background in software engineering or web development

 

Contact us to apply

For immediate consideration, please send your CV and cover letter to our HR manager, Joe Jones, at j.jones@techsolutions.uk.

 

How much do product owners earn?

Product owners are typically very well paid, with an average UK salary of £62,500.

 

Product owner salaries in the UK

  • Low: £51,250
  • Average: £62,500
  • High: £77,500

Source: CWJobs

 

Product owner salaries will vary hugely depending on:

  • The industry of the employer – Certain industries are likely to offer higher salaries — for example, product owner roles in the finance, banking, insurance, pensions and telecoms sectors are known to be well-paid
  • The size and scale of the product – Generally speaking, bigger products/projects require more responsibility and, therefore, pay higher salaries
  • The location – As with most industries, location can play a big factor in salary — for example, the average product manager salary in London is £70,000 in comparison to £32,500 in the East Midlands

 

For example, a product owner working on a product for a global company in a well-funded industry such as finance and in London, is likely to earn significantly more than a product owner working on a product for a start-up outside of London.

Bear in mind that the figures above have been taken from job advert samples and therefore do not include extra benefits such as bonuses, holiday allowances and healthcare.

 

What does a product owner do?

Breaking down the job description, product owners are typically tasked with the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Owning the product – Taking complete accountability for the end-to-end launch and success of a product or products
  • Developing product vision – Developing and implementing the product vision (a blueprint that details the product’s concept, benefits and features)
  • Creating product backlogs – Creating and updating the product backlog (a list of tasks that needs to be completed during a specific time frame) to guide design and engineering teams
  • Setting timelines – Working with the product scrum team, product managers and product directors to establish timelines and deadlines
  • Surveying customers – Interviewing product users and customers to gain trends and insights
  • Analysing feedback – Pinpointing patterns in the data in order to discover common issues and problems that customers are experiencing
  • Monitoring product quality – Acting as quality assurance and ensuring the final product is in line with the product vision and is free from flaws, errors and pain points
  • Presenting to management – Presenting new ideas and developments to senior executives and upper management in order to get their approval
  • Acting as an ambassador – Championing the product both internally and externally and acting as the primary point of contact for product-related queries
  • Monitoring performance – Monitoring product performance after it launches in order to evaluate future development opportunities and investment

It’s also worth noting that product owners work in an agile environment to the scrum framework:

Agile is a term used to describe several modern approaches or frameworks used in software development and project management. The overriding goal of agile is to enable teams to deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer problems.

Scrum is the most widely used agile framework. It works by breaking the development of a product into numerous small projects that can be completed in shorter timeframes, known as sprints. Scrum teams review each small phase of the project for quality and functionality immediately after it is completed, allowing them to adapt and fix problems accordingly. In turn, this increases product quality, minimises future risks and increases productivity.

 

What do product owners need?

candidate requirements

The role of a product owner is fast-paced and multi-faceted, meaning it requires a significant skillset, knowledge of numerous techniques and methodologies, as well as industry experience and — sometimes — qualifications, in order to succeed.

The specific requirements will inevitably depend on the type of product, the industry being worked in and the seniority of the role. However, speaking generally, here is what’s needed to get started:

 

Experience

Product owner jobs will typically require at least 3-5+ years of related experience, either as a product owner or in a similar role, such as a software engineer, project manager or business analyst. Additionally, candidates will typically need experience of working in an agile environment and to be knowledgeable in their chosen field.

Senior product owner roles will normally require significant experience in a product manager role with demonstrable experience of championing and owning profitable product(s) to success. Additionally, most senior product owners will typically have gained experience within the specific niche or industry.

 

Product owner skills

In order to drive a product to success, product owners will need a breadth of industry knowledge and a varied skill set. Some of the most widely sought-after product owner skills include:

  • Industry knowledge: Knowing the product, the industry and its competitors inside out
  • Agile & Scrum framework: Delivering products using Agile and Scrum principles and processes
  • Software development process: Using a variety of software and understanding the jargon, tools and processes involved in software development
  • Communication: Communicating with team members, managers and stakeholders throughout the company across a variety of mediums
  • Time management: Working to strict deadlines and product roadmaps
  • Leadership: Managing and motivating large, cross-functional teams, directing staff and giving constructive feedback
  • Problem-solving: Reacting quickly to problems and pinpointing appropriate solutions whilst still meeting product deadlines
  • Data analysis: Analysing customer insights and data and identifying trends and patterns to inform product decisions

 

Product owner qualifications

Product owner roles typically don’t have any strict qualification requirements. Most employers value proven experience of working on a successful product above academic qualifications.

With that said, due to the level of complexity and responsibility involved in the job, the majority of product owners do have a good standard of education. Some employers list a degree or master’s degree as an essential requirement, but it is possible to work up the ranks into the profession without one.

Additionally, as roles can be competitive, gaining relevant qualifications can bolster a candidate’s chances of landing a job and increasing their chances of success in the job itself. Here are some of the most common:

 

Degree

Although it’s possible to become a product owner without a degree, having one can act as a significant advantage during the hiring process. Employers are increasingly listing a relevant degree (and, for the most competitive roles, a master’s degree) as an essential requirement for product manager roles.

A degree or master’s degree within a subject matter related to the product or industry itself will always be highly valued. However, other relevant subjects include:

  • Computer science
  • Software engineering
  • Information systems
  • Business management
  • Marketing management
  • Data science/analytics
  • Communications
  • Product design or development

 

Agile & Scrum qualifications

As product owners work as part of an agile team and typically work to the scrum framework, holding in-depth knowledge of the relevant processes, tools and methodologies is essential to gaining a role.

Gaining a hard qualification or certification is a great way to showcase these skills and prove a candidate’s commitment to the frameworks. Some popular study options include:

 

The Scrum Alliance offers ScrumMaster courses tailored to product owners specifically, which run at three levels:

 

Subject matter qualifications

It can be beneficial for product owners to hold qualifications in the subject of industry and type of product they’ll be working on. For example, a product manager working on digital healthcare product might benefit from having a degree or vocational qualification in the sciences or life sciences, providing they have business acumen and tech knowledge to complement it.

 

What is expected of product owners?

Product owners will typically be expected to commit to the following:

  • Full-time hours – Product owner roles are generally quite demanding, meaning the role requires full-time hours (typically between 35 – 40 hours per week) — part-time opportunities are rare
  • 9–5 hours, often with flexitime – Most jobs will follow a typical 9–5 working pattern, though employers are increasingly offering flexible working hours
  • Possibility of overtime – Extra hours may be required to meet the demands of a project or launch – this may be unpaid or rewarded as time off in lieu
  • Location – Normally based at the employer’s head office
  • Some travel – Some travel may be required in order to liaise with external supplies and agencies who are contributing to a product

 

Product owner benefits

A job as a product owner normally offers a generous benefits package, which may include perks such as:

  • Bonuses – based on product sales
  • Generous holiday allowance
  • Generous pension contributions
  • Private healthcare
  • Car allowances – if regular travel is required
  • Flexible working opportunities

 

 

Who employs product owners?

Employers

Any company or organisation that creates and develops their own products may require the services of a product owner to ensure their products are developed on time, are of a high-quality and meet the needs of their clients and customers.

Product owner opportunities in the UK tend to be fairly London and city-centric. Roles in smaller towns and rural areas do appear, but are not common. However, general demand for product owners does seem to be on the rise, with data from ITJobsWatch displaying a year-on-year increase in advertised roles.

The majority of roles can be found in the private sector, though opportunities within the public and not-for-profit sector are likely to increase. Typical product owner employers include companies within:

  • Technology & digital
  • IT, networking & software
  • Banking and finance
  • Insurance
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Entertainment
  • Electronics
  • Transportation
  • E-commerce

 

Which junior jobs progress to product owner roles?

Stepping stone jobs

There’s no set career path to becoming a product owner.

Generally speaking, the role requires a blend of business skills/acumen, technical ability, as well as strong knowledge of the product area and industry being worked in. For this reason, a common route into product ownership is to work up the ladder internally, as this brings a deep understanding of the product’s target market and the business needs that the product fulfils.

While routes are highly varied and fairly undefined, some product owners start off in the roles of:

 

Software developer

Software developers and engineers create computer software and diagnose/fix system faults. Although product owners might not be involved with the physical building of the product they own, they work closely with the people who do — and will, therefore, need to understand the tools, systems, processes and jargon involved. For this reason, product managers are often ex software developers who sought a change of direction.

IT project manager

IT project managers manage the planning, development and implementation of computer hardware and software. The role requires strong communication skills, working with cross-functional teams, the delegation of work and managing project scope, which is all highly transferable into the role of a product owner.

 

Which senior jobs do product owners progress to?

Even though being a product owner can bring lucrative salaries in itself, the role can act as a springboard into numerous higher-paying, senior jobs. As the skills gained are so transferable, career moves are varied — but common moves include:

 

Scrum Master

Scrum Masters lead a scrum team, ensure that the scrum framework is followed and help to coach new team members on scrum methodologies. They also lead daily scrum meeting and planning sessions. The average salary of a scrum master in the UK is currently around £50k, with some earning considerably more, making it a highly attractive prospect for product owners with a passion for agile working.

Senior product roles

Experienced product owners in large companies often move into senior and board-level product positions, such as:

  • Senior product owner/manager
  • Group product manager
  • Head of product
  • VP of product

These positions typically involve taking leadership over a product or a group of products and working on high-level strategy and vision, rather than smaller tasks. In larger companies, they may also involve overseeing the work of several product owners and managers. Roles at this level often offer salaries well into the six-figures.

 

Product owner job description – conclusion

A role as a product owner is multi-skilled and offers salaries far above the national UK average.

The job can be challenging and requires wearing many hats and juggling numerous tasks, but typically offers a highly varied and rewarding work life.

Opportunities within product ownership are increasing, and the role offers plenty of attractive career progression opportunities.