Welcome to this week’s episode of the Cognixia podcast. We just realized that we are almost halfway through 2022, time sure does fly. We hope you have been having a good year so far. And, of course, if you are looking to get closer to your career goals, might we suggest one of our live online instructor-led training & certification courses? Talk to us today to know which certification would be the best fit for your current role and career goals.
Now that we have told you how we can help you, let’s talk about what we are here to talk about today. In today’s episode, we talk about Scrum Masters and Product Owners. Both individuals play critical roles in agile teams but what we often forget is that both the roles need each other to perform their roles effectively. Today, we will discuss how Product Owners need qualified, efficient, and skilled Scrum Masters to do due justice to their role.
But before we begin, let us do a quick refresher on who Product Owners and Scrum Masters are, and what they do, shall we?
In an agile organization, a Product Owner is an individual accountable for maximizing the value of the product built by the Scrum team. They would be accountable for the effective management of the product backlog as well. Their role would involve developing and communicating the product goals to everyone, creating and communicating product backlog items, ordering the product backlog items, and ensuring that the product backlog is visible, accessible, comprehensible, and transparent. For a product owner to do their job effectively and achieve their goals, everybody would need to respect the decisions of the product owner and follow them, including the Scrum Master.
Now, who is a Scrum Master? A Scrum Master is a professional who serves as the leader of the team using Agile Project Management through the duration and course of a project. Scrum Masters facilitate all communication and collaboration between the various team players and the leadership team, working to ensure successful outcomes. A Scrum Master ensures that everybody understands their roles, responsibilities, and goals, that the right people are available and placed in the right roles to accomplish project goals, practice and inspire others to practice agile values, principles, & practices, work towards building a conducive environment to facilitate creative teamwork, encourage team members to proceed with the project at a sustainable pace to meet the goals in sync with the defined timelines, keep everyone motivated and charged to accomplish their tasks and perform their roles, work with the senior management, HR, etc. to manage and implement change in the organization to ensure the product teams have the powers they need and everybody is equipped with whatever they need to leverage the Agile practices. Besides this, Scrum Masters also prepare and facilitate meetings such as sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review, sprint retrospective, product strategy, product roadmap workshops, etc.
Simply put, Scrum Masters are servant leaders and coaches for the Agile team. An important task they perform is to educate different team members about Scrum, Extreme Programming, Kanban, SAFe, etc. while ensuring the Agile processes are followed by everyone.
Now that we have a clear idea about what Scrum Masters and Product Owners do, let us dig a little deeper, shall we?
How does a Scrum Master help a Product Owner? What services does a Scrum Master provide to the Product Owner?
- A Scrum Master ensures that the goals, scope, and product domains are explained to everyone and everybody understands all of these in as much depth as possible. This would help the product owner perform their role effectively
- They find and implement techniques to facilitate effective product backlog management, which in turn, is one of the primary roles played by the product owner
- Ensure that the scrum team understands the need for having clear and concise product backlog items
- Comprehend the product planning process in an empirical environment and act accordingly
- Help the Product Owner learn and understand how to arrange product backlogs to derive the maximum possible value from it
- Understand, practice, and inspire everyone to practice agility
- Facilitate Scrum events, as and when required and/or requested
So, this gives us a fair idea about how a Scrum Master can assist a Product Owner in performing their role effectively. But are there things that a Scrum Master should not do? If there are dos then there should be don’ts too, right? Well, yes, there are. Some of the things that a Scrum Master must not do include:
- Project Management – A Scrum Master is not a project manager, even though it often appears so and is misunderstood to be so. So, a Scrum Master is not responsible for assigning the tasks or creating reports like the release burndown chart. Instead, they should help the product owner and the development team learn about managing sprints and releases effectively
- Product Backlog tasks – It is the product owner’s and the development team’s responsibility to keep the product backlog updated, not the Scrum Master’s. A Scrum Master should not, ideally, refine the product backlog. They should also not be setting product goals. They can remind the product owner to set the goals, but they ideally shouldn’t be doing it for the product owner.
- Team Management – A Scrum Master is not responsible for managing the development team, and they should not be expected to do so either. The team should be able to self-manage and set realistic goals & commitments.
These are the three key roles a scrum master should not be involved in since there are other people, mostly the product owner who is responsible for them. The responsibilities and boundaries must be clearly defined for both roles so both individuals can perform their roles effectively.
Thus, you can see, that having an effective and efficient Scrum Master would help a product owner immensely in being able to focus on their role while being able to maximize the value their products create. It also helps prevent the product owner from having to get overly involved in people, processes, organizational issues, etc. Effectively, a Scrum Master and Product Owner have to be partners – someone with whom they can discuss concerns and offer helpful feedback.
If the partnership between the Scrum Master and the Product Owner is right, they will have it worked out that the product owner is responsible for product success and Scrum Master is responsible for the process success. Together, both can work in sync to maximize value creation on a continued basis.
With that, we come to the end of this week’s podcast episode. We hope you liked listening to us. And, if you are already in a Scrum Master role or aspire to get into that line of work, we strongly recommend getting your certification to be a Certified Scrum Master. Cognixia – the world’s leading digital talent transformation company offers thorough, hands-on, live, online, instructor-led Certified Scrum Master training for individuals and the corporate workforce. To know more about the training programs, get in touch with us today. And keep sending us your feedback and suggestions about the podcast, we truly enjoy reading your emails and DMs.
Until next week, folks! Till then, happy learning!