Agile Software Development

Defining 3 Product Roles: Product Manager, Product Owner, and Business Analyst

Product manager, product owner, and business analyst—people often mix up these product roles. It is a common dilemma when individuals manage multiple roles and responsibilities in a company. In her blog, Johanna Rothman helps to understand how these product roles differ by defining them.

Segregating Product Roles

It is important to understand the difference between product roles of product manager, product owner (PO), and business analyst (BA). It would clarify ownerships during the strategy planning phase and reduce conflicts. A startup can have a product manager that also works as a product owner or BA. The job responsibilities are as below for multi-hyphen product roles:

  • Define strategy for the organization
  • Break down strategy into product features
  • Identify problems with customers
  • Translate problems to the team to create features and user stories
  • Validate with the team if user stories are solutions for customer problems
  • Validate with the customer regarding solution credibility

A PO working on a single product with one or two teams is easy. It becomes hectic when there are multiple products and multiple teams to manage. To help the development team improve product development consistency, organizations must support and empower product roles. Following are the three product roles with their distinctive responsibilities:

Product Manager: This role coordinates between customers and organizational strategic decisionmakers (operations committee, PPM team, or PMO) and stakeholders regarding the product. Product managers understand the problems customers faced using the product and define that for the product team. They then pitch the solutions that the organization is ready to offer to the customers. Product managers devote maximum time to customers, sales team, strategic decisionmakers, and product owners to create product roadmaps.

Product Owner: This is one of the product roles that work closely with the product manager and defines problems for the team. Product owners combine the long-term and short-term goals into a project vision and release criteria. The short-term goals include MVPs, innovation, minimum marketable features, and short-term deliveries. This type of product roles must create a product roadmap, impact map, and good user stories. The product owners must also involve in describing and modifying user stories for the team. They do not often meet the customers as they are more involved with the product development team. The product manager or BA can help them out in this regard.

Business Analyst: A BA clarifies any doubts regarding the problem statement. They have in-person discussions with customers to understand the actual problems. These product roles then help in defining the user stories and acceptance criteria for the development team.

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