Customer Success, Product Success | 6 MIN READ

Chief Product Officer (CPO): The Complete Guide to This Key Role

A Chief Product Officer (CPO) improves product experience by aligning with company objectives to effectively harness growth.

Niyathi Rao
Niyathi Rao
Mar 4, 2021


Chief Product Officer

The changing digital landscape has made us look at products very differently. There is a rise in products, improvement in features, and advancement in requirements from customers. Customer needs and expectations evolve with time, influence and other products. To handle this evolving requirement, it is important to build a competent profile to initiate progress in product development. This is where companies need another C-level executive to facilitate business growth via products. What makes a chief product officer (CPO) different from a CTO or a VP in the product department. The compelling need to empower customers more than ever has led to organisations build and respond with specialists. These are product professionals with advanced knowledge on improving product performance. They are customer-focused, tech-savvy, and most importantly make the right decisions about products.

What exactly does a Chief product officer do? Is it an important role in the organisation? In this post, you will understand:

  • Who is a chief product officer?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of a CPO in any organisation
  • How to become a tech-savvy successful Chief Product Officer
  • What are the skills required to be a Chief Product Officer

Who is a Chief Product Officer?

A chief product officer is the head of the product department who is responsible for the product discipline. A CPO is one who manages products and teams to engineer better outcomes for customers. For companies to scale, it is a must-have role. A chief product officer can also be known as the VP of Product, Head of Product, Product Head, and more for their product-related execution and strategy. A chief product officer looks to make sure that products are delivered in a smooth manner.

Keep in mind that Chief Product Officers (CPO) are different from Chief Technology Officers (CTO) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMO). A CPO is one who makes all the ‘product’ decisions. A CTO is one who investigates the product development aspect. A CMO is one who looks into how the product should be marketed.

What does a Chief Product Officer Do? Roles and Responsibilities of a CPO

Chief Product officers are those who look to align product features and activities with the overall objectives and goals of the company. There are a number of roles and responsibilities of a CPO. A CPO needs to also look to align the business goals with customer needs through products. To facilitate product-led growth, a CPO looks into some core tasks.

Product Vision Development

Product vision is the core idea of the product. What is the value and mission of the product? How will the product change impact customers? Some of the primary vision aspects include making sure the product is adaptive to customers. Some product vision statements include-

“to provide access to the world’s information in one click.” By Google

“to deliver winning customer outcomes at scale with intelligent customer success software.” SmartKarrot

Product Strategy

The next responsibility is to create a product strategy and a detailed roadmap to fulfil and meet various KPIs. These will measure product performance and create sustainable solutions. Factors such as features, business climate, customer needs, and competition need to be considered while creating a strategy. The goal is to connect technology with go-to-market channels and speed product performance.

Product team management

A company has multiple teams who need to coordinate to give a great output. A CPO needs to make sure cross-functional team collaboration is on point. It includes communicating company goals clearly, improving vision, outcome, and ensuring timely delivery of deliverables. A CPO is one who coordinates various departments to improve product creation.

Product Marketing

A CPO also needs to make sure that product promotion and sales are on point. The product needs to meet the right customers, appeal to them, have them convert, and even remain loyal. The Chief Product Officer needs to use product analytics data, communicate rightly, understand and work on customer feedback.

Product Analysis

The CPO is also required to understand insights on products and customer needs. This needs to be driven by customer research data. CPO needs to plan strategies that are in line with KPIs and customer metrics. Continuous customer research will help product teams plan in a better manner.

How to become a tech-savvy successful Chief Product Officer

To become a CPO, the journey is long and requires grit. With the right knowledge, it is possible to become a product professional. A Chief Product Officer needs a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Some employers expect more educational qualifications- master’s, doctoral, information technology, marketing, or more.

Recruiters also expect a minimum of ten years’ experience in the product domain. It can be product analytics, product management, product marketing, user experience, product communications, etc. A chief of product is someone who ensures that product team members reach their peak performance with strategy, marketing, development, and management.

What Skills are required for a Chief Product Officer?

To be a chief product officer, one needs to have certain skills. This includes-

  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Product analytical skills
  • Ability to persuade
  • Customer engagement skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Data-driven reporting skills
  • Keen eye for detail

In all, the role requires someone who will perfect the digital experience for customers by creating cutting-edge products. The CPO needs to be able to differentiate a USP and be obsessed with service deliver. The person also needs to translate technology and have the commercial acumen to understand pricing, investment, and complex environments.

Bottom Line

A Chief Product Officer is one who improves the product experience in this changing world. The Chief Product Officer makes sure products are aligned to various stakeholders. The candidate needs to be technically literate to ensure the product fits in. to become a Chief Product Officer, a candidate needs to focus on gaining relevant experience and diversify skillset. The C-level person is required to ensure business objectives are met in harmony with the product division in alignment. The role is ever-growing and essential for scaling and growth.

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Originally Published March 4th, 2021, Updated March 4th, 2021

Niyathi Rao

Niyathi Rao

Niyathi is an experienced content marketer with a love for SaaS tech products. She reads a lot (mostly fiction) and is a huge news junkie. Niyathi loves exploring different forms of inbound marketing and taking on challenges.

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