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Transitioning to a Product Ownership Role

Understanding the 4 Types of Product Owner 

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Move to a POA role by understanding the 4 types of Product Owner


Migrating to a Product Owner role can be fulfilling and lucrative. To foster a seamless transition to a Product Owner role, it’s vital to understand the different types of Product Owner, as well as their pros and cons. 

The Project Management Institute describes Product Ownership as requiring “clarity of vision…(and) alignment with organizational strategy.”

IIBA explains Product Ownership Analysis as empowering Business Analysis professionals with the standards, practices, techniques, and competencies to keep pace with the Agile approach while creating value. 

The Four Types of Product Owner 

According to Judy Alter, CBAP and Senior Business Systems Analyst, there are four types of Product Owner. In her virtual conference presentation at Building Business Capability 2020, Alter described these classifications of Product Owner, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. They are:

1) Internal to the company

2) External to the company 

3) From the business domain

4) Former Business Analysts 

A Product Owner who is internal to the company may have been with their employer for some time, but they are new to the business domain being supported. A Product Owner who is external to the company is a new employee and was hired externally. Product Owners who are from the business domain have experience in the business domain being supported. And last, in addition to having been a Business Analyst in the past, a Product Owner who is a former BA has experience with the business domain being supported. 

The 411 on Internal Product Owners

Alter explained that Product Owners who are internal to the company are valuable because they are familiar with politics and are aware of key players and business needs. Also, they have an established internal network. On the other hand, they have a tendency to resist change, favor certain key players, and are not from the business domain.

What You Should Know About External Product Owners

External Product Owners have a unique set of “pros.” They are usually open to change and have no biases or prejudices, they won’t play favorites since they often don’t know anyone at the company, and they provide a much-needed fresh perspective and sense of excitement. At the same time, they are unaware of company politics, key players, and business needs, and have no network or allies. 

The Pros and Cons of Product Owners from the Business Domain

Like internal Product Owners, Product Owners from the business domain are familiar with politics and key players. But they differ from that type of Product Owner in that they are Subject Matter Experts and have close connections with business decision makers. On the flipside, they resist change, favor certain key players or projects, and have clouded judgement due to familiarity with the business domain.

What Former-BA Product Owners Bring to the Table  

Product Owners who once held a role as Business Analyst are typically familiar with company politics, key players, and the business domain, and they have an established internal network. But on the downside, they resist change, favor specific key players, and sometimes have a tough transition from BA to Product Owner.  

Related Reading: 7 Must-Know Essentials of Product Ownership Analysis


Strengthen Your Weak Points for a Smoother Transition to a Product Ownership Analysis role

One key to having a successful migration to a Product Ownership Analysis role is to know your strengths and especially your weaknesses. Becoming familiar with what you bring to the table, good and bad, will boost your confidence and give you the information you need to strengthen your weak points and become a stronger candidate.

Get a deeper understanding of Product Ownership Analysis at IIBA’s free webinar, The Fundamentals of Product Ownership Analysis on May 19th at noon ET.





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!