What Tech Skills Should a Product Owner Have?

Understanding the progress of the website or web application development from a technical standpoint can make quite a difference. This is especially true if you are the Product Owner.

Throughout our careers, we have all worked with clients who have felt left in the dark by previous dev companies. In most cases, this was due to no established way of reviewing the work being done. As a result, these clients could not truly understand the progress made or value of the development.

In our opinion, transparency offers a far stronger development process and successful delivery. We welcome consistent and organized feedback, which is a large part of why we use the Agile methodology. That said, the development company you’re working with also has a responsibility to ensure you’re getting the training you need to successfully run and manage your website. While you’re preparing for launch, it’s imperative to have extensive training on the product before the handoff.

If you’re not sure of what to ask your dev company for when it comes to training and preparation throughout the development process and beyond delivery – this blog is for you!

Backend Website Training For Product Owners

There are nuances specific to any platform, depending on if you’re developing in Drupal, WordPress, or Shopify, for example. However, there are ways to ensure you’re getting the general and specific training you need to successfully own your website or web application.

Start be making sure you’re aware of all of the integrations, plug-ins, or modules being used on your website. You and your team should feel confident with managing them and check if/when they need to be updated.

As a Product Owner, ask “what is special about this CMS and what should I know about using it?” You should be provided thorough training on all aspects of the CMS you will be utilizing. This should entail intricate details of what aspects you should not touch and are only to be used by developers. In some cases a development team can hide certain accessibility to, in essence, protect the client from making any serious and costly mistakes with their website. In other cases, this isn’t possible due to the nature of the client’s needs. So, it’s best to be as aware of what not to touch in these cases.

Technical Product Owner Training

Below, we’ll dig into more specifics about what kind of training Daggerhart Lab believes every Product Owner will benefit from. While the list is numbered, we believe they’re all equally important.

1.) SEO Management

Whether you will be handling your own SEO or hiring an SEO specialist, ensuring you know how to access and understand some basic aspects of your SEO is imperative. SEO has a very broad spectrum of utility, so it’s important to understand that these are general SEO basics. During the discovery and requirements gathering phase of development, any deeper SEO requirements will be discussed and a specific plan will be put in place for the platform being used.

We believe having access and functioning knowledge of the following is a great place to start.

  • Access to: Google Analytics
  • Understanding of: How to check your bounce rate once the site has launched, how fast the site is loading and how to check the performance and health of the site.
  • Access to: Meta Data, Alt Text, & Accessibility
  • Understanding of: How to add Tile Tags, and Meta Descriptions when creating a new page, how to access and create effective alt image tags and alt link text, as well as, how to use header tags correctly.

User Management

Ensuring you know how to add, remove and manage users is very valuable. Whether onboarding a staff member or an external team, they will need access to the website to complete their work. Equally, it is inevitable that some staff will leave, so it’s important you know how to remove their website access. Coequally, you may need to move on to a new development, SEO, or marketing company. This requires removing access affiliated with vendors who are no longer relevant.

For a quick checklist of user management tasks that would be beneficial to have, we’ve created a bullet list below.

  • Adding and removing admins
  • Assigning roles and permissions for internal users
  • Creating user roles for external agencies (SEO/Marketing)

Content Management

There are many distinctions between platforms on how to create and manage the content on your website. That said, no aspect of this should be a mystery.

We believe a Product Owner should be able to do the following.

  • Creating, editing, deleting, and publishing content as necessary
  • For WordPress, understanding how to add and properly use taxonomy and terms
  • For Drupal, working knowledge of the content set up and establishing a content workflow from creation to publishing.

Product Evolution

It goes without saying that as a Product Owner, you’re thinking of ways your site or app can evolve. This means thinking mindfully about what direction your website is growing. So, as a Product Owner, are you looking into new features and integrations that will improve productivity and/or conversions? Before implementing anything new, ask yourself – does it fit the future vision? Understanding your technology and your business will help answer this question.

Another essential task of a Product Owner is ensuring they understand the technology of their developed technology. A major part of this is creating workflows and processes for updating and maintaining the website or web application. Get your hands dirty with your team to ensure the flow and processes work for the technology and technologists. Creating these with well-defined documentation will be crucial to a product’s evolution.

Tech-Savvy Product Owner or Partner to Product Owner

If you don’t consider yourself a “tech-savvy”, or Technical Product Owner, do you have someone on your team who is? It is very common to have a Product Owner who has not been involved with technical projects previously. If there is anyone from your team that has more technical experience, having them partner with you is tremendously helpful.

If you’re unclear about what to ask to find someone internally with a bit more tech know-how than yourself, below are a few things to consider.

Do they have experience with some or any of the following?

  • Logging into testing environments and following technical testing instructions.
  • For WordPress: Experience with managing and updating plug-ins as necessary.
  • For Shopify: Understanding of how their payment gateway is plugged in and being able to be able to download and process orders.
  • With Drupal: User and Content management.

Having someone with any working knowledge of the items listed above will help you accomplish the more intricate technical work of a Product Owner with much greater ease.

Complex Training For Intricate Integrations

If it was made clear at the onset of a project that there would be certain accessibility you needed to specific features – be sure to have that access and thorough training. In short, don’t get invoiced for work you planned to do with your own internal resources.

This is true for any level of website or web application development, though it is particularly true of large, custom, and intricate projects. So, if there is a feature of the site that doesn’t fall under the above categories, such as something that was made custom like a content approval flow, you should have a complete utility of this feature. This means documentation on how to use those systems and features will be crucial to your success. In other words, be sure you’re not left in the dark at any point.

Enjoy Successful and Technically Sound Product Ownership

With the right training and documentation, seemingly any Product Owner can become a more technical one. The onus of this lies on both the shoulders of the development company working on the website or web application, as well as on the Product Owner.

Utilizing the above guidance will, at the very least, prepare less technical Product Owners with some basic knowledge and tools for getting the best development outcome.

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