What is a product owner?

Posted on February 4, 2021

product owner

A product owner ensures that a government service or program is effective and meets people’s needs. This role is different from a project manager, who’s job is to make sure a project gets done on time and on budget. The product owner is accountable for whether the service is any good. This mindset helps to create government service experiences that are easy and not things people dread having to do.

Examples of products

  • Accessing services or information on a website
  • Paying a parking ticket
  • Getting a building permit
  • Viewing a public document
  • Borrowing a book
  • Getting your street swept

How it works

The product owner leads six phases of the lifecycle of a product or service:

  1. Product framing: identify the problem, create a vision, and define success.
  2. Research: learn from people about their needs and values.
  3. Design: synthesize the vision, ideas, and research into a prototype.
  4. Pilot: test solutions in real-time, with real people.
  5. Launch: offer your product to the public.
  6. Measure: use metrics and data to measure success and plan improvements.

product lifecycle diagram

Product owner vs. project manager

  • A project manager makes sure something gets done on time and on budget. This responsibility often has a beginning and an end.
  • A product owner’s role continues after a service or program is launched and is focused on continuous improvement and ongoing success.
  • During implementation, a project manager is focused on tasks and timeline. The product owner is focused on whether user needs are getting met.


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