Whether you’re just starting out or an experienced engineer, this series will shed light on various terms used in the hi-tech business.
Software Development Life Cycle
Product Owner (PO)
A core role in Scrum software development methodology, every team has one. Is the voice of the customer, assessing business value of product requirements. Likely the visionary leader and people manager of the team. This role may have other names depending on the organization, such as Single Threaded Leader at Amazon, or Product Engineering Lead at Square.
Maintains, usually with a Product Manager, the Product Backlog and the Product Roadmap.
Product Manager (PM)
Generally the business person on a development team, functionally close to the Product Owner. Represents customer and market needs, ensuring those requirements are met as software is developed. This is a role in the team, not a “people manager” of the team.
Works with other functions such as marketing, sales, customer success to ensure product success from creation to launch to maintenance.
[Principal] Engineer, Designer, Architect: prefixed to the job title of a person of senior skills and experience, who’s primary function is not people management. They may have direct reports but will generally be free of management functions such as maintaining budgets and income statements.
Program Manager (TPM)
Sometimes known as the Technical Program Manager.
Someone in this role is involved with many projects in an organization, fostering co-ordination and co-operation between teams to get those projects done. A good program manager knows of product owners across several projects, and will help reduce duplication of efforts in solving common problems.
Imagine the product is a car, traveling down a long stretch of highway, with milestones along the way. A roadmap is the breakdown of a long-running project into phases along a timeline, with dependencies and deliverables.
Product roadmap is maintained by the Product Owner, although sections of it are given to team leads for their share of the project.
Minimum viable product. The smallest product you can put in the marketplace to validate need, demonstrate core value and begin getting feedback from customers. Examples vary from a simple email sign-up form to a minimally-functional website.
Prioritized list of customer-centric requirements in the form of user stories or jobs to be done. It’s the formal name for a comprehensive TODO list.
An experienced engineer who designs the high-level system to satisfy product requirements. Could be a separate role, or a Team Lead.
A creative artist who’s prose is code.