The product owner and the ScrumMaster are two separate agile roles that complement each other. To do a great job, product owners need a strong ScrumMaster at their side. Unfortunately, I find that there is often a lack of ScrumMasters who can support the product owner. Sometimes there is confusion between the roles, or there is no ScrumMaster at all. This post explains the differences between the two roles, what product owners should expect from their ScrumMaster, and what the ScrumMasters are likely to expect from them.
Product Owner vs. ScrumMaster
The product owner and ScrumMaster 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 ScrumMaster, as the following diagram shows.
The grey circle in the picture above describes the Scrum Team consisting of the product owner, the ScrumMaster and the cross-functional development team.
The ScrumMaster 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 ScrumMaster 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 ScrumMaster 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 ScrumMaster duties!
What the Product Owner should Expect from the ScrumMaster
As a product owner, you should benefit from the ScrumMaster’s work in several ways. The ScrumMaster 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 ScrumMaster:
|Product owner coaching||
The ScrumMaster 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 ScrumMaster 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 ScrumMaster’s job. If you don’t have a ScrumMaster, show the list above to your senior management sponsor or to your boss to explain why you need a qualified ScrumMaster at your side.
What the ScrumMaster should Expect from the Product Owner
It takes two to Tango, and it’s only fair that your ScrumMaster has expectations about your work as the product owner. The table below describes the ScrumMaster’s expectations in more detail:
|Vision and Strategy||