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Do you need to be a developer to be a product owner for a software company?

No, you don’t.

The Good

It can be super helpful if you are a developer transitioning into a product owner role and have a great deal of experience building software products.

You’re able to connect with your development team and earn their respect quickly and easily because you speak their language and understand their challenges.

You have greater insight into the challenges of software development, and you understand the difficulty in creating new products or solving problems that have never been solved before.

If you are a developer and have a strong technical background, that capability will always serve you in good stead, but it isn’t necessary to be a product owner.

The Bad

The double-edged sword comes into play when you are no longer focused on the kinds of conversations that are productive from a product ownership perspective.

If you have deep technical expertise and are leading technical conversations, you are no longer in a product ownership role, you’re in a developer role.

Product Ownership isn’t project management and as such, you aren’t there to tell people how to do their jobs.

A drawback for product owners with developer experience is that they can become too immersed in the how and forget about the why and the what of product development.

They can become too immersed in solving the challenges or trying to create the solutions at the expense of helping the team to create the most valuable product and/or solve the most compelling problems.

If you find yourself drifting back into elements of what used to be your job, you’re moving out of what is currently your job, Product Ownership, and back into development.

The Opportunity

The Product Owner role is a full-time role.

A great product owner is like a CEO of the product.

It requires a great deal of work. It involves a great deal of conversations with everyone from customers through to product stakeholders. And it requires a firm finger on the product pulse.

You are there to create a product vision and purpose and to align all efforts to achieve the best possible product.

You don’t need development experience to do that.

You simply need to be passionate about the product experience and deeply engaged with all elements of the product environment.

A great product owner career builds momentum over time and whilst you work closely with the development team, you aren’t a member of the developer team.

So you don’t need developer knowledge or experience to become a great product owner.

If you would like to become a Product Owner, visit our Certified Scrum Product Owner and Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner course pages.

Product Owner Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Product Owner Training Question