How to manage a large product as Product Owner or Product Manager

How to manage a large product as Product Owner or Product Manager

The Author:
Alyona Lubchak
Alyona Lubchak,
SAFe program consultant

How to manage a large product as Product Owner or Product Manager

Nowadays, there is a growing debate in the IT world about the difference between a Product Owner and a Product Manager, as well as their responsibilities. If you work with a small product, this problem is not relevant for you, because you fulfill both roles.

Agreeing with yourself should not be a problem. But things are completely different, if you are working on a product where there is an entire product team. There is already a need to allocate functional duties to different roles. Let’s consider who does what, and where is whose area of responsibility.

Product Manager is responsible for the “helicopter view” or overall picture of the product, as depicted in the Vision, Roadmap and new features in the product backlog. They work closely with customers to understand customers’ needs and validate product’s hypotheses. Product Manager also works with Product Owners to communicate business ideas to development teams.

Typical responsibilities of a Product Manager consist of:

  • Understanding of user needs and validation of the product solution;
  • Development and support of vision and roadmap;
  • Workflow management and prioritization;
  • Active participation in team planning;
  • Estimates of the releases;
  • Close cooperation with architects to understand the technical part of the work;
  • Participation in demos and improvement workshops;
  • Building an effective team of Product Managers and Product Owners.

Product Owner is a member of the Agile team responsible for working on the product at the team level; defines User Stories, prioritizes the team’s backlog, closely cooperates with a Product Manager.

Typical responsibilities of a Product Owner consist of:

  • Validation. Stories and technical tasks should match the admission criteria with the Vision, with Features and goals of the sprint;
  • Content management within the team backlog;
  • Representation of clients and stakeholders and their needs;
  • Participation in iteration ceremonies as a team member;
  • Help in the decomposition of Features in Stories and prioritization of the team’s backlog;
  • Working closely with architects and the team to understand the priorities of technical tasks;
  • Accepting already made Stories.

In terms of content, the distribution goes as follows:

  • Product Manager rather works with marketing and customers, determines the needs of the market. Is usually found working with marketing or business. Has a vision, roadmap, high-level backlog, pricing policy, licensing policy; is responsible for ROI. Prioritizes features and sizable technical tasks, determines acceptance criteria for them.
  • Product Owner rather works with technologies and the team; is usually found working with them. Helps create the Vision, but is rather more responsible for the team’s backlog and its implementation. Defines and prioritizes the goals of the iterations and User Stories that comprise it. Accepts the results of iterations. Defines the criteria for acceptance of User Stories and, finally, at the end of the iteration, checks them.

In other words, Product Manager’s view is more outward: marketing, market, users. And Product Owner’s view is rather directed inside: team, development, implementation.

More details about these roles, as well as specific templates for different levels of requirements, prioritization techniques and much more await you in our training Certified Product Owner / Product Manager with SAFe.

If your company needs to transform or build effective processes, but you don’t know where to start just contact us – [email protected] or choose a time for a free consultation: