May 31, 2022

What it means to be a product owner at Moonward

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A role that we have recently introduced to Moonward in the last year which always attracts a lot of curiosity is the Product Owner.

Product Owners are primarily a role that you may find in agile development and scrum teams. They are unique to the industry so it is understandable that the mention of them causes some confusion. 

I wanted to put together a short article to discuss why having a Product Owner on your app is so essential and why introducing this role to Moonward has been incredible for our products. 

Knows the product (like really well)

The Product Owner is a ‘products person’, different from a project coordinator who is primarily responsible for the delivery of outcomes on a company level.

The Product Owner lives and breathes the product, as if it was their own. They know who uses it, how to use it, and why they use it. They understand the product's future goals and importantly its current limitations. 

They may need to defer technical questions to members of the development team, but they will have a very good understanding of the tech stack and technology landscape. At Moonward, our Product Owners all have solid technical understanding as we always place individuals in this role who have had formal development training or are former developers.

Acts on behalf of the client

The product owner knows who their clients are to a granular level, understanding their needs and motivations for the product. This means they can act on behalf of the client when making quick-fire day to day decisions. 

When developing an app, there are thousands of micro-decisions that need to be made throughout the week involving backend architecture, design iterations and APIs. The Product Owner will act in stead of the client knowing their goals for the project and vision for the future. 

They will facilitate internal meetings, coordinate work and test the app through design and development to make sure the product is delivering not only on the clients expectations but the Moonward experience. 

Sets the vision for the team

One of our biggest mantras around software is writing code for the next developer, whether that is our coworkers at Moonward, a new developer coming on to the project or even ourselves in several months. To achieve this the Product Owner needs to define the purpose of the product for the development team and create a vision - so the development team know where the product is going, not just where it is right now. 

The Product Owner needs to answer the most fundamental question of software development, “Why are we building this thing?” They need to understand the problem that is being solved by the product going forward in great depth so they can inspire the team. 

Executes the prioritises and product roadmap

Maximising the value of the product is the main responsibility of the Product Owner, especially those that work in Agile Development. At Moonward we drive two pillars to a successful software product: momentum and collaboration. 

If there is no momentum in the project, then the software becomes stale and the team lose interest from constantly stopping and starting.

If there is no collaboration it just becomes a dictatorship. When we can collaborate together we can create an even greater product by challenging each other's ideas and using each party's expertise. 

All apps begin as an idea that could work. When a concept is given to a Product Owner, it is their job to see how it will work by including the right people, creating a backlog of features and reprioritising epics based on business goals and learnings that are taken throughout the project. It is the nature of technology that certain functionality may be more difficult than initially thought and may now require a heavy amount of technical work that on the surface provides no client value. At Moonward we value foundational work over feature work as this is better for the long term value of the product. 

The Product Owner will be able to speak with authority on any of the features of the product as they know:

  • Whether the feature is fundamental to the businesses success
  • If this feature was not here, would other fundamental features of the product be impacted

Product Owners are…

So basically the product owner is part business analyst, part project manager, part market analyst and part delivery specialist.

The important thing is that at Moonward, this individual is on your team and acts on your behalf during the day to day building of your product. They only have a handful of clients and their primary role is to keep the momentum going and deliver on expectations. They are also there to challenge the product and prioritise what the product needs.

It is a super exciting role too where the people we put into this job are very passionate.

If you have any questions about Product Owners, feel free to reach out! 

Check out the video below on the role of a Product Owner!

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