Product Owner v/s Scrum Master


Product Owner v/s Scrum Master

The product owner and Scrum Master are two different roles that complement each other. If one is not played properly, the other suffers. As the product owner, you are responsible for the product success — for creating a product that does a great job for the users and customers and that meets its business goals. You therefore interact with users and customers as well as the internal stakeholders, the development team and Scrum Master, as the following diagram shows.

The grey circle in the picture above describes the Scrum Team consisting of the product owner, the Scrum Master and the cross-functional development team.

The Scrum Master is responsible for the process success — for helping the product owner and the team use the right process to create a successful product, and for facilitating organisational change and establishing an agile way of working. Consequently, the Scrum Master collaborates with the product owner and the development team as well as senior management, human resources (HR), and the business groups affected by Scrum, as following pictures illustrates:

Succeeding as a product owner requires the right skill set, time, effort, and focus. So does playing the Scrum Master role. Combining both roles – even partially – is not only very challenging but means that some duties are neglected. If you are the product owner, then stay clear of the Scrum Master duties!


What the Product Owner should Expect from the Scrum Master

As a product owner, you should benefit from the Scrum Master’s work in several ways. The Scrum Master should coach the team so that the team members can build a great product, facilitate organisational change so that the organisation leverages Scrum, and help you do a great job. The following table details the support you should expect from the Scrum Master:

Service Details
Team coaching
  • Help the team collaborate effectively and manage their work successfully so that they can make realistic commitments and create product increments reliably.
  • Encourage the team to work with the product owner on the product backlog.
  • Ensure that the team has a productive work environment.
Organisational change
  • Work with senior management, HR and other business groups to implement the necessary organisational changes required by Scrum.
  • Educate the stakeholders about what’s new and different in Scrum, explain their role in the agile process, and generate support and buy-in.
  • Resolve role conflicts such as product owner vs. product manager and product owner vs. project manager.
Product owner coaching
  • Help the product owner choose the right agile product management techniques and tools.
  • Support the product owner in making product decisions and tackle product owner empowerment issues.
  • Help establish agile product management practices in the enterprise.

The Scrum Master supports you as the product owner so that you can focus on your job – making sure that the right product with the right user experience (UX) and the right features is created. If your Scrum Master does not or cannot provide this support, then talk to the individual, and find out what’s wrong. Don’t jump in and take over the Scrum Master’s job. If you don’t have a Scrum Master, show the list above to  sponsor to explain why you need a qualified Scrum Master at your side.


What the Scrum Master should Expect from the Product Owner

It takes two to Tango, and it’s only fair that your Scrum Master has expectations about your work as the product owner. The table below describes the Scrum Master’s expectations in more detail:

 Service  Details
Vision and Strategy
  • Provide a vision to the team that describes where the product is heading.
  • Communicate the market, the value proposition and the business goals of the product.
  • Formulate a product or release goal for the near to mid term.
Product Details
  • Proactively work on the product backlog. Update it with new insights and and ensure that there are enough ready items.
  • Provide direction and make prioritization calls.
  • Invite the right people and choose the right techniques to collect feedback and data, for instance, invite selected users the review meeting and carry out a usability test.
Collaboration
  • Be available for questions and spend time with the team.
  • Buy into the process and attend the sprint meetings.
  • Manage the stakeholders and make tough decisions; say no to some ideas and requests.

 

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