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.
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:
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
A CPO needs to have a product-focused skillset that will help them ace the job. A chief product officer must upskill to meet the various requirements of the team. This includes scrum development, agile framework, IT design and more.
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.
To be a chief product officer, one needs to have certain skills. This includes-
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.
The CPO and CTO have the same goal to deliver the best outcomes for customers. The CPO deals with the ‘why’ of the product- this aligns the company vision with the product direction. You can build along with product features, understand requirements, create a roadmap, fix the phases and tasks. A CTO is related with the ‘how’ of the product. This means creating a product with the cost-benefit analysis and other values. A CTO needs to determine which technology will make the products and services better.
|Responsible for why the market needs the product||Responsible for how to create the product aligned with company vision|
|CPO looks at metrics from a product experience point||CTO looks at metrics from how a product performs|
|CPO honors the product vision strategy that looks to build a better experience.||CTO works with technology solutions to ensure better results|
|Needs to understand the customer better to make a product they will love.||Needs to apply the technical know-how to please customers.|
A chief product officer is the head of the organisational structure around products. All other product related officers report to him. From the director of product management to head of product analytics, all product strategy related positions report to the CPO.
As per Payscale, CPOs on an average earn $183,724 per year. With twenty years’ experience, you can earn as much as $291,000. According to Glassdoor, a CPO can earn $193,636 annually on an average. Additionally, they earn via bonuses anywhere between $1000 to $143,000 annually. In a report by Indeed, a chief product officer earns nearly $215,647 per year.
|Salary Source||Salary per annum|
|Glassdoor||$ 193,636 – $ 263,000|
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.
Originally Published March 4th, 2021, Updated June 1st, 2021
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