Understanding the Differences Between SpinDance Product Owners and Client Product Owners

July 1, 2024

By Colleen Laskowski | Director of Delivery |

In the dynamic world of software development, the role of the Product Owner (PO) is crucial for guiding a product from concept to market. However, the responsibilities and focus areas of Product Owners can vary significantly depending on whether they are consulting for clients within their software projects like we do at SpinDance or fulfilling the role of the Product Owner at the organization itself. In this blog post, we will delve into the key distinctions between a SpinDance Product Owner and a Client Product Owner (Head of Product), outlining their unique responsibilities and how they both are critical to the success of a project.

SpinDance Product Owner Responsibilities

A SpinDance Product Owner is primarily responsible for translating the stakeholders’ vision into actionable software development plans. Their role involves close collaboration with various teams and departments at the client’s company to ensure the product aligns with the company’s overall strategy and objectives. Ultimately, the PO is accountable for building the right thing based upon the Stakeholder vision and prioritization. 

Key Responsibilities:

  1. Stakeholder Engagement:  The SpinDance PO is focused on engaging with stakeholders, ensuring that their vision and priorities are clearly understood and incorporated into the product development process. They are responsible for bringing technical options to stakeholders for decision-making.
  1. Collaboration with Client Product Owner: They work closely with the head of product to ensure that the product vision and priorities are aligned. In order to do this, they also work hard to understand the company’s business objectives and business value. This collaboration helps in maintaining a cohesive strategy and execution plan.
  1. Actionable Development Plans: The SpinDance PO translates the product strategy into actionable software development plans, including creating roadmaps, prioritizing features, and scheduling software releases for testing. They implement effective product management processes like user story development and agile methodologies.
  1. Day-to-Day Product Management: They execute daily product management responsibilities with the software scrum team, managing the product vision, roadmap, and value alignment.
  1. Tool Setup and Management: They set up tools for user story and technical task management, ensuring that the development process is streamlined and efficient.
  1. Change Management and Communication: The SpinDance PO is responsible for managing changes and communicating them to stakeholders, tracking open issues, and working towards their resolution.
  1. Backlog and User Story Management: They create and estimate the initial backlog of Epics and user stories, clarify user stories with stakeholders, ensure their readiness, and manage the product backlog.
  1. Sprint Involvement: The PO actively plans and facilitates the Sprint Planning and Sprint Review (demo) meetings to confirm priorities and give and receive feedback.
  1. Product Evaluation and Course Correction:  They inspect and evaluate product progress in each iteration, making course corrections where necessary to ensure alignment with the product vision and stakeholder expectations.

Client Product Owner Responsibilities

The Client Product Owner or Head of Product represents the voice of the customer and is responsible for ensuring that the product meets the needs and expectations of the end-users. Their role is more externally focused and involves extensive interaction with customers, market analysis, and strategic planning.

Key Responsibilities:

  1. Voice of the Customer: The Client PO acts as the voice of the customer, ensuring that the product roadmap and strategy align with customer needs and preferences.
  1. Product Vision and Strategy:  They own the overall product vision and strategy, and is responsible for guiding the SpinDance Product Owner towards a shared understanding of the product’s value, purpose, goals, and direction.
  1.  Actionable Plans and Roadmaps:  Similar to the SpinDance PO, the Client PO translates the product strategy into actionable plans, including creating roadmaps, prioritizing features, and scheduling releases across all partners.
  1. Cross-Functional Leadership: The Client PO leads and inspires cross-functional teams to ensure timely and successful product delivery, collaborating with stakeholders like executives, customers, and partners to gather feedback.
  1. Market and Competitor Analysis: They monitor and analyze market trends, competitor offerings, and customer needs to identify growth opportunities and improve existing products.
  1. User Research and KPIs: Conducting user research and defining key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical responsibilities for the Client PO, helping to measure the product’s success and impact.
  1. Continuous Improvement and Innovation: The Client PO stays up-to-date with industry advancements and best practices, driving continuous improvement and innovation in the product.
  1. Revenue and ROI Maximization: They focus on maximizing revenue and return on investment, ensuring that the product contributes to the financial success of the company.
  1. Product Launch: The Client PO is also responsible for overseeing product launches, ensuring that the product is effectively introduced to the market and meets customer expectations.

Key Differences Between SpinDance and Client Product Owners

Specific vs. Broad Focus: 

The SpinDance PO has a specific focus on the software team and works closely with software teams and stakeholders to align the product with the company’s vision and strategy. In contrast, the Client PO has a broad focus, representing the customer’s voice and ensuring the product meets market demand across all partners and teams.

  • Stakeholder Engagement: SpinDance POs engage primarily with the Client Product and key stakeholders, while Client POs interact extensively with all stakeholders, customers, partners, and market players.
  • Strategic vs. Operational Role: While both roles involve strategic planning, the SpinDance PO’s responsibilities are more operational, involving daily product management tasks. The Client PO’s role is more strategic, focusing on market analysis and customer research to guide product development.
  • Product Vision Ownership:  The Client PO owns the product vision and strategy, driving the product’s direction based on market needs. The SpinDance PO translates the stakeholder’s vision into actionable plans and ensures alignment with internal objectives.

In summary, while both SpinDance and Client Product Owners play vital roles in product development, their responsibilities and focus areas differ significantly. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for ensuring effective collaboration and successful product outcomes in a software development project. At SpinDance Product Owners are non-negotiable roles on our projects. We have seen the pain and confusion it caused without this critical role and now we won’t go without it.