What Does a Salesforce Product Owner Do?

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We see many organizations pivoting from project-centric models to a product-centric view. This is why there has been lots of focus recently on product ownership, and the vital role it plays in organizations, to successfully deliver products. Product Ownership provides a convergence of product development with agile practices.

Successful products are the cornerstone of successful businesses. Creating a product that is unmarketable, or that nobody wants is too big of a risk to take.  A product that solves a customer’s problem or that attends to a customer’s need will make a product successful. Implementing agile practices by using effective product ownership, can provide steady and stable customer value. 

Lots of Salesforce Administrators or Salesforce Business Analysts either support Salesforce Product Owners or inherit product ownership responsibilities. Product Ownership works best as a team effort to help maximize value delivery.

Product Ownership provides a framework, tools, and techniques, combined with key competencies to create successful products and valuable outcomes.

The Salesforce Product Owner is a representative of interested and influential stakeholders, who helps to define product features and to prioritize the product backlog. It incorporates both a tactical and strategic component of product development.

Discovery and Delivery Roadmap

The Salesforce Product Owner is there to create a roadmap that easily and effectively articulates the flow of timelines. The Product Owner defines the expectations of when to deliver the product. The Product Owner is one person and not a committee of people. The decision of the Product Owner must be respected and upheld by the organization and the team. The Salesforce Product Owner and the team decide what, when, why and how to release product features.

Product Strategy

A Salesforce Product Owner is very much a strategic role. The person in this role needs to understand the details, features, functions, and stories within an Agile environment, and align these items to the strategy of an organization. Having access to high-level strategy all the way down to granular details is vital for a Salesforce Product Owner to know.

Not all Salesforce Product Owners will have the skill set or time to gather all this information across a wide spectrum, especially within a large organization. Neither will the Salesforce Product Owner won’t have all the answers. But, they must have the skills to be able to gather this information from SMEs and the customer. Having access to this spectrum of detail, and understanding the responsibilities within that spectrum is important for a Salesforce Product Owner to know. And, a Product Owner needs to trust those individuals who can provide that detail.

Product Vision

Not having access to the vision can be a challenge. Have a vision that is all-encompassing. Take a good idea and make it big. Think about how you can positively influence to make the product better. Constantly look to what’s the next improvement. Deliver value consistently. 

As an enabler to digital transformation, think of how things can constantly be iterated and upgraded. You should be driven by passion. Software is not the problem, it’s about sage communication and building strong relationships. Motivate the right people with the right qualities behind a vision, and fantastic services will grow out of that.

Be bold to try new ideas, and encourage this creativity among your team. This will create a team that embraces learning. Know your users, and care deeply about the user experience. This will carry over into the design and content of the product, and the way you elicit and employ feedback, and how you respond to your users. Be empathetic to your team and customers, and know how customers can better use your service.

Business and Customer Oriented

A Salesforce PO works directly with the business to gather project-related knowledge. The PO needs to provide a justification to the business to develop certain product features. It’s the vision of the product that the Salesforce PO provides the business. There is no need for the Product Owner to understand how the product will be technically implemented. The Product Owner is simply a voice for the business side, that central point of contact to clarify questions, to reach consensus, and provide ample fuel to drive business decisions for the product. The Salesforce Product Owner is essentially business and customer-oriented. He/she ensures that continual product value is aligned with customer and business needs. 

By maintaining a detailed view of the product, with domain knowledge of the customer and data, the Product Owner can better manage the product backlog. This includes epics and user stories. The purpose is to maximize the value of the product. 

The main focus for the Product Owner is to develop and communicate the product goal; create and effectively communicate the product backlog items; prioritize the product backlog; and represent the stakeholders that are involved with or impacted by product delivery, which includes customers and end-users. This means that the PO needs to work closely with the implementation team and technical experts.

Challenges

Being a Salesforce Product Owner is not without its challenges. These can include dependencies between product features, budget constraints, time constraints, justifying KPI metrics, managing several competing priorities between stakeholders, end-users and developers, and constant changes to the priorities of the product.

The Salesforce Product Owner can heavily influence many of these challenges. This is why the Product Owner should have forethought and foresight for future sprints, and engage all necessary parties in order to plan for upcoming sprints. Optimizing the value of every sprint is key. Know your demographics, know how to stretch your budget beyond the go-live, know who will use the service, and understand what the product features are, and what they mean to the customer.

Focal Point during Meetings

The Salesforce Product Owner is the focal point during any product related meetings. He/she is there to indicate what is and what is not needed, knowing that doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right. The Salesforce Product Owner provides value to a business, by deciding what value is more important. Because the Product Owner engages with all stakeholders and is closely connected to the customer, needing to know value is extremely vital. This allows the Salesforce Product Owner to better prioritize features with stakeholders.

Skills and Competencies

A Salesforce Product Owner with business expertise and strong technical experience will be better equipped to ensure product delivery is aligned with the required vision. Having a good grasp and knowledge of implementation methodologies and different product development approaches are also key. Other skills include understanding market analysis/strategy, product roadmap, release planning and tracking, collaboration with the development team, escalating issues when needed, improving processes, and providing clarifications and driving decisions.

Conclusion

A successful Salesforce Product Owner requires a combination of skills, tools and techniques, while following essential processes and procedures. Amalgamating this with having the courage to know when and how to act when confronting challenges within an organization, is the key to productive product outcomes.

3 thoughts on “What Does a Salesforce Product Owner Do?

  1. Great write up, Marcus! I believe the product owner is a critical role within an organization, but also a delicate one. If the product owner doesn’t have the support of leadership, then it becomes increasingly difficult to create a vision. Thank you for this contribution to SalesforceBen!

  2. Great article! Can’t emphasize more “ Optimizing the value of every sprint is key.” Crucial for a PO to challenge requests to stay focused on delivering maximum business value with the given limited development resources.

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