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The 4 Types of Product Owner | Part 2

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Product Owners help drive the success or failure of a product. “Preferably, a Product Owner has a lot of mandate and he or she is the final decision maker for the product,” stated When transitioning to a PO role, Product Owners should strive to understand which one of the four types of Product Owner they are. This will give them insights into their strengths and weaknesses so that they can be a better Product Owner. 

Learn more: Check out these two agile techniques POs can use to maximize their effectiveness in a Product Owner role.  

You can have a smoother transition to a product ownership role by understanding the 4 types of Product Owner.


Know the Four Types of Product Owner  

At the Building Business Capability 2020 conference, Judy Alter, CBAP® and Senior Business Systems Analyst aka The Optimistic BA™, broke down the four types of Product Owners. She described the four types of Product Owner as being: 
1) Internal to the company 
2) External to the company  
3) From the business domain 
4) Former Business Analysts  
In Part 1 of this 2-part blog series, we discussed the first two types of Product Owner: Internal POs and External POs. In this article, Part 2 of the blog series, we will explain the other two types of Product Owners. They include Product Owners from the business domain and former Business Analysts. 

Strengths and Weaknesses of Product Owners from the Business Domain  

Are you or will you soon be a Product Owner from the business domain? If you have past or current experience working in the business domain being supported, you are or will fall under this category of Product Owner.  
Like each of the types of POs, Product Owners from the business domain have pros and cons. According to Alter, some of their strengths include:  

  • Being familiar with company politics 
  • Awareness of key players 
  • Having expertise in the subject matter related to the business domain being supported  
  • Having a strong connection to business decision-makers 

 “This type of Product Owner has the most important set of ‘pros,’” Alter explained. “...they can get things handled in a much easier manner than any other type of Product Owner.”  
On the other hand, Product Owners from the business domain tend to have the following work against them:  

  • They resist change 
  • They favour certain players or projects  
  • Their familiarity with the business domain can cloud their judgement

By strengthening their weaknesses, POs from the business domain can be even more successful in a product ownership position.  

Related Reading: 7 Lessons Learned from an Accidental Product Owner

How Former Business Analysts Can Ensure Their Success as a Product Owner

Product ownership vs. business analysis - are they the same? The answer is “no.” They are two distinct practices. Still, some Product Owners come into a PO role from a business analysis background. There are some definite benefits to this. For example, Product Owners who were former Business Analysts: 

  • Are familiar with company politics 
  • Are aware of key players  
  • Are familiar with the business domain being supported 
  • Have an established internal network  

Some of their most common weaknesses include:  

  • Resistance to change 
  • Tendency to favour certain players  
  • Difficulty transitioning from a BA role to a PO role

Alter said POs with a business analysis background can become better Product Owners by learning to stand up to stakeholders. “These POs have to be able to say ‘no’ from time to time,” she said. “Some former BAs just aren’t good at that.” 
By intentionally becoming more assertive and being aware that they need to stand up to stakeholders, POs that were former Business Analysts will have a better chance of succeeding as Product Owners.

Be a Better Product Owner by Exploring Product Ownership Analysis  

Transitioning to a product ownership role? Learn as much as you can about Product Ownership Analysis by exploring IIBA’s Certificate in Product Ownership Analysis.  



About The Author:
Tiffani Iacolino

Tiffani Iacolino is a Product Marketing Manager at IIBA® and has 15+ years of marketing experience across the legal, technology, telecommunications, publishing, media, and professional services industries. She’s passionate about delivering meaningful products and solutions to the business analysis community, including IIBA’s latest offering the Cybersecurity Analysis Learning and Certification Program. Hailing from the Greater Toronto Area, she enjoys an amazing cup of coffee, running, and yoga -- between chasing her two adorable children!