What is a Chief Product Officer and what are their skills
01 April 2020
A Chief Product Officer (CPO ) in the US makes between $206,080 and $282,180 per year. That’s a reasonable sum of money. Chief Product Officers have an important role in a company to deserve this kind of payment. Their skills have to be quite impressive.
What does CPO mean in business? It’s short for Chief Product Officer. But what are the typical duties of a CPO?
Let’s change Chief Product Officer into Chief Production Officer. This already suggests what the Chief Product Officer job description will look like. They are in charge of the product production chain.
Businesses need a smooth production workflow. Each link in the chain must be well-oiled.
CPOs certainly do their part in achieving a well-structured workflow. As we know, an organization is only as good as its management. To be successful, a company needs skilled leaders, who know how to make decisions that are in the best interest of the business.
Those decisions should be communicated clearly. And a capable CPO knows how to delegate his decisions effectively.
Naturally, any leader, which includes a CPO, needs tactical and strategic skills. But even more importantly a leader is a people’s manager.
So to clarify, what is a Chief Product Officer and what exact skills are we talking about? Learn below more about this topic in this article created by our team at TMS.
What makes a skilled Chief Product Officer?
What does a Chief Product Officer do? Well, some say “the clothes make the man”. Relying on education and experience, a CPO dresses up every morning, ready to take charge of the entire product organization.
This CPO is at the top of the product management organization chart – working for a medium-sized or large company where a probably a product manager alone won’t do. The product manager in turn, is now working for the Chief Product Officer.
Outlining the strategies is what keeps the CPO busy. The daily routine, the operational side of the production process. A CPO delegates to the product manager and his team.
Leadership is the most important quality of a Chief Product Officer. Let’s start from there.
5 key qualities that define a chief product manager
All organization officer positions have something in common: They require someone good at leading the way. That goes for Chief Technology Officers, Chief Sales Officers, and Chief Product Officers. They are in command of large tiered teams.
A CPO title doesn’t come for free. A chief production manager must have the following qualities to deserve that CPO job title:
In the chief production officer job description, you will read that a CPO is the head of the Product Management department. That’s a huge group of people, working in teams under management officers:
- the Director of Product Management
- the product manager
- the Director of UX
- the Head of Product Analytics
- the Director of Product Marketing
The CPO is the manager of all these officers and their teams. The skills a CPO needs for these are:
- They think analytically and strategically.
- They Inspire every team and encourage them to work together.
- They are creative and show problem-solving skills. They support the product management to create the best products.
- They communicate what they know, want, and expect.
Becoming an inspiring leader doesn’t come overnight. CPOs have studied hard for it. CPOs have a Ph.D. in related study-fields, such as economics, marketing, engineering or business administration. They know all about product development, marketing, and management. As well as excellent communicators. Combined with at least 10 years of experience in the field of product management, has made them suitable for the CPO job description, and are able to fill the CPO position.
Coming up with a product vision, and being able to effectively convey that vision
It speaks for itself that a leader has a vision for the company’s product or products. Without a vision, it is impossible to have product development or to know what product customers desire and need.
This product vision must be adopted and shared by all employees in the department.
The CPO makes decisions that support this vision.
They are armed with verbal and written communication skills. This helps to share their vision and knowledge with everyone involved in the production.
Analyzing the market
A business is not only about producing something that customers need and desire. It’s also about making a profit. So, having an insight into the market is vital. It’s all about finding opportunities and getting the best out of them. Through market research, a CPO can build a roadmap based on his vision of the company’s products as well as client needs and profitability.
Before a CPO can make sensible and objective decisions they would need to know how to answer the following questions: Is there a need for the product? How well will a product do? What is needed to make it work? How to make good use of the analyzed data? And how and when to launch and promote the product?
Once answered, the CPO can make sensible and objective decisions and lay-out marketing strategies that will lead to sales. The market and product metrics will be used continuously during the product life cycle. As a result, costs, time frame, usefulness, customer satisfaction, and profits would be balanced to perfection.
Cooperate with the marketing and sales team
A CPO’s task doesn’t stop at supervising the development/production stage. The product still needs to get to the customers. This is when the Product Marketing and Communications departments step in. As the coordinator, a CPO will interact with (potential) consumers, and take note of their feedback through:
- The Press and press releases
- Presentations at events
- Conferences and meetings
This is already a long list of skills, but it doesn’t stop there.
Gluing it all together
All qualities, or call them skills, have one goal: getting a desired product to the end consumer, at the right time. Only a clear and well-communicated product vision can accomplish this goal. The product management organization structure is built for the realization of this goal, it must work just as accurately as a Swiss clock. A CPO has the huge task of inspiring and motivating:
- software engineers
- product managers
- UX/UI designers
All departments must work individually and collectively to reach the company’s goal. This business culture should drive everyone from managers to production workers. The CPO ensures this philosophy never dwindles.
The CPO upholds this philosophy when recruiting new managers and when acting as their mentor.
Summary of what exactly is a Chief Product Officer’s duties and skills
What a collection of responsibilities, qualities, and personality treats a CPO must display!
A CPO needs a large skillset to work effectively for a mid-sized or somewhat larger company.
A lot more work is involved if the CPO was working for a larger company. Several responsibilities would be shared with a Vice President (VP) of product management. A VP of product job description covers some of the tasks, a CPO or even a Product Manager would normally handle those functions.
Also, a Chief Product Officer who reports directly to the CEO has more control over the products than one who reports to let’s say a VP of Marketing.
But in general, a Chief Product Officer is responsible for
- Organizing the different teams involved in delivering a successful product
- the product vision and promoting it
- motivating and inspiring everyone involved in designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling the product
- the production processes
- promoting the product and the product vision for the outside world
- adapting the product using the feedback of (potential) consumers
Tactical, inspired leadership and motivational communication of the product vision. These are CPO’s most prolific skills.
If you enjoyed reading this article on chief product officer, you should check out this one about product manager salary.
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