When should you have a Product Owner in your organization?

It's essential to think like if you are the owner of the company. If you were the company owner, there is one single critical metric: profitability. It gives you the focus on revenue and costs.

From that perspective, you can evaluate if adding an extra team member in your organization will help move the revenue, the cost, or both?

That also depends on the size of the organization and strategy. Having an agile and low-cost team will give extra months of cash to survive for startups without sizable funding. For unicorn startups, the extra money can allow the CEO to splurge on additional hiring. That also applies to bigger organizations, the bigger and richer the organization, the more people they can hire.

Back to the Product Owner question, if the company can afford an extra person, the next step is to evaluate if you can help the product team create products that help drive more revenue or reduce costs.

A product owner can help drive revenue under the following conditions:

  • Many product managers are spending more time managing sprints, Jira cards, and project management.
  • Product managers are spending less time with customers.
  • Product managers already have stable relationships and processes with tech leads.

In that case, the expectation is that the Product Owner will free up PM's time to focus on finding revenue-oriented features and products.

Can the Product Owner reduce costs?

It can happen from the perspective of decreasing the back and forth, number of meetings, and reducing the ambiguities of the scoping to the development team. The PO can work to optimize the development team's works and establish focus. In theory, that should avoid the engineers wasting their time, thus salary, into unfruitful features, projects, and endless meetings.

In summary, the Product Owner can help increase revenue and reduce costs if the organization has the money and problems for that role. However, the product manager will have to do the PO work for smaller organizations until it reaches a certain size.

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