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Key Differences Between a SAFe Product Owner and a SAFe Product Manager

SAFe Product Owner

July 14 2021 - The agile method has come a long way since its snowy inception in 2001. And if you're considering a career as an agile practitioner you might be wondering what the difference is between a product owner and a product manager.

Well, don't worry because you're in the right place. We're going to cover exactly what a SAFe Product Owner and Product Manager does. And we'll show you how you can launch your career today, so let's dive right in.

What Is a SAFe Product Owner?

If you ask ten different agile or scrum practitioners what a product owner is you will likely get ten different answers. Many will even use the terms product owner and product manager interchangeably, however, there are many differences. In general, the product owner is responsible for the back end of the agile release train and focuses mostly on the development team.

The product owner is responsible for ensuring the stories, iterations, and solutions are in line with your overall vision. The product owner manages the backlog and drives each iteration to ensure successful delivery.

As the product owner, you're responsible for the entire spectrum of the project. This begins with the first stories created to solve your client's problems. And ends when your team reaches the pre-determined definition of done criteria.

You play a critical role and work with all the stakeholders system-wide, the product owner is vital to the overall success of the agile framework within your organization. Each day might look different for the product owner. As the product owner, you will sit in on several meetings and check in with your team members regularly.

In addition to planning and implementing your product backlog, the product owner is also responsible for:

  • Contribute to the vision and roadmap
  • Iteration planning and coordination
  • Story creation and elaboration
  • Accept stories from your team when they meet the right criteria
  • Collaborate with each stakeholder

As a certified SAFeŽ 5 Product Owner you will work closely with your team and keep each iteration on track for prompt delivery. You will ensure that each stakeholder, from finance to operations has what they need to keep every storyline on schedule.

What Is a SAFe Product Manager?

In the scaled agile framework, the product manager is the mirror role of the product owner. However, their focus is on the front end of your organization and works with the customers or end-user. While the product owner might be keeping all the internal stakeholders on task and on target, the product manager's role is to ensure that the end-user gets the final product delivery they need.

Depending on the project, this could be an external product sold to customers or it could be an internal software development for an in-house team. For example, if you're creating a new software program for your internal human resources department, the product manager will work closely with everyone on your HR team. They will interview everyone in HR to find out what problems need to be solved, what requirements are needed to do their jobs, and understand their personal workflow so the final solution checks all these boxes.

However, if your team is developing a new product to sell to customers, the product manager will spend their time analyzing the markets, watching the trends, as well as surveying past and current customers. You will also work closely with marketing to ensure that the product delivers the solutions they can market to your customers.

Finally, the product manager's job isn't done after launch. You'll work closely with the customer service department to ensure that the long-term vision and customer care are implemented.

As you can see each role plays a vital part in the process. And they both must manage many different components to ensure successful delivery. Now that you know what each role does, let's jump into how you can launch your career in the right direction.

How to Become a SAFe Product Owner

As you can see there are many roles the SAFe product owner must play. You must be able to juggle many responsibilities and work well with many different personalities. As a product owner, you must have several soft skills that you might not learn in traditional educational programs.

Some examples of these SAFe product owner skills sets include:

  • Effective communication skills
  • Effective conflict resolution skills
  • Basic development skills and understanding
  • Delegation skills
  • Powerful storyteller

As the product owner, you will be the true north star for your team to follow. Understanding the fundamental SAFe principles and practices is also key to being a successful product owner. When you take a SAFeŽ Product Owner training course you will learn these skills and attain the proper certification to begin your career.

The right SAFeŽ Product Owner training can catapult your career and help you learn the skills sets you need to become a SAFe product owner.

Choose the Right Job Description for You

The SAFe product owner is an exciting and important role within an agile team. As you search for the right career for you, this could be a good fit for you if you have the skills listed above. There is great demand for these skills sets and you might be the right person for the job at your organization.

Now you know the differences between an agile product owner and a product manager. And you know the path to take to jumpstart your career. Now is the time to get started so you can enjoy the rest of your career.

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