A full-stack digital partner like Lizard Global consists of a team that is specialised in all aspects of software development, from idea conceptualization and market research to design and development, Growth Hacking and more. An essential role within a full-stack software company is the role of the Product Owner, who guides a product through the entire process of product development, from conceptualisation to delivery, and after.
The role of a Product Owner
The Product Owner within a full-stack digital agency can be best described as the intermediary between the client and the company itself. At Lizard Global, the main function of the PO is to turn ideas into concrete concepts and support the entire team to navigate to the realization of that concept into a functional application. Because ideas and concepts are continuously changing based on the feedback of customers, the Product Owner needs to adopt the mindset of a Lean Startup. They need to constantly be prepared for possible adjustments, and the communication of these adjustments to the team and key stakeholders. In order to make this process of conceptualization, production, delivery, testing, and feedback implementation go as smoothly as possible, all our PO’s are familiar with Agile methodologies like Scrum Sprints.
In our blog about Scrum Sprints, we’ve given you an insight into this typical Agile methodology of product development. A Product Owner fulfills a core role in the process of a Sprint by managing the Product Backlog and safeguarding the quality of the deliverables. At Lizard Global, the functionalities of a PO during a typical 2-week sprint consist of the following:
Gathering market insights & identifying business models
A Product Owner must always be up-to-date with the current state of the market. This can be a challenging task, as the software market is constantly changing. What might have been high-end and relevant a few months ago, can already be outdated by now. It’s up to the Product Owner to be aware of this rapidly changing market, and continuously adapt to it. Besides the market itself, the PO also needs to be able to identify business and revenue models. After all, if there’s no revenue, there’s no product.
Defining the problem of the end-user
The PO is responsible for gathering input and feedback from the client and end-users in order to define the problem. At Lizard Global, we do this following the principles of Design Thinking. By being in constant and close contact, a PO empathizes with the client with the ultimate goal to create a deep and complete understanding of the problem, in order to define a fitting solution.
Documenting the gathered information
Once all necessary information is gathered, the PO is responsible for documenting this information and clearly defining the problem of the end-user. The features that lead to a solution to the problem get put on the Product Backlog, and ordered based on their priority. The Product Backlog plays a central role in the process of a Scrum Sprint, guiding and steering the activities of the development team towards the creation of a shippable product.
Prioritizing items on the Product Backlog
Prioritizing the items on a Product Backlog is done by a so-called Risk/Value Matrix. This matrix provides a method of organizing actions based on the value of the end product and the risk that is involved within the process of achieving that value. By carefully defining which risks are worth taking, a lot of time and effort is saved that may have been lost by making wrong decisions.
To sum it all up, these are the main functions of a PO in a software development company:
- Gathering market insights and staying up-to-date with market changes
- Identifying business models, revenues and opportunities
- Gathering user-input with the methodology of Design Thinking
- Creating product roadmaps based on the user-input
- Defining and prioritizing the Product Backlog (with a risk/value matrix)
- Delivering the final product to the client
- Gathering feedback on the delivered product for future improvements
- Stimulating the constant alignment between key stakeholders and the development team
Another core function of a PO is so-called “Expectation Management”, which revolves around aligning the needs and expectations of key stakeholders with the abilities of the development team. As an intermediary, you are responsible for smooth communication between all involved parties. A PO gathers input and feedback from its client and makes sure it's clearly documented and delivered to the production team to avoid miscommunication.
Product Owners at Lizard Global
Lizard Global has a team of 4 Product Owners, located in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and 1 PO in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A significant benefit of working together with other Product Owners within the same company is the continuous exchange of knowledge and experience. Recurring meetings with all team members make sure that all PO’s are up-to-date with the projects of their colleagues, and offer suggestions and support when needed. Because of that constant transfer of knowledge, the team can work as Agile as possible. Every bottleneck faced by a PO is carefully being defined and discussed by the team, so there will always be a fitting solution ready to tackle the problem without interfering with the Agile process of product development.
Meet the Lizards: Jordi - Product Owner
To give you a little sneak peek into our company and the function of Product Owner at Lizard Global, we interviewed one of our Rotterdam-based PO’s, Jordi. He’s been our Product Owner on various successful projects, and isn’t about to slow down anytime soon.
How would you describe the main function(s) of a product owner?
“The PO reads and understands the (business)markets, gathers and evaluates feedback from the target audience, analyses (user) data, seeks opportunity, and sets out the strategy for the stakeholders and their product. As a Product Owner, I am also involved in business development, constantly looking for new opportunities and building relationships for the product and the client.”
How did you end up as a Product Owner for Lizard Global?
“At the time of my minor Consultancy & Entrepreneurship, I was looking for a graduation internship when I met Jeremy during a project meeting (for an assignment of the minor). We discussed the opportunity to graduate at (back then) Lizard Apps, and 2 weeks later I signed the contract. During the graduation assignment, I slowly transformed my role from a intern and developer to a Product Owner.”
Why did you choose Lizard Global?
“Lizard Global is small, but has huge potential. Growing together with Lizard by maximizing the power of the entire team is a once-in-a-lifetime-experience. Lizard Global offers me the freedom to explore, to challenge myself, but also to make a difference for the clients. Together with the team, we can help companies grow and leave tremendous impact - we are truly making a difference. Besides, I’ve had the opportunity to work together in an entrepreneurial environment here in The Netherlands, but also to work with an internationally-oriented team in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”
What do you like most about your role as PO?
“Working together with the client, building a product into a success, and transforming companies using the product that was built. Furthermore, working with such a great team of people with a mixed set of cultures and expertise never makes one day the same.”
What are, for you, the most difficult parts of being a PO?
“The market is changing rapidly, and it is important as a PO to keep up with it. That is what makes it challenging; something that was innovative last year, is often slowly ending life this year. You have to find the right wave to ride, but reading which wave is right is a hard and challenging task.”
Curious about how Lizard Global can help you with the digital conceptualisation, market and technical business research, design, development, and go-to-market strategy of your app? Get in contact via one of our social media channels or on our website.