Scrum Master vs Product Owner: Their Differences and Common Aspects
In the projects based on Scrum methodology there is a plenty of professional roles, each of them is valuable for many business processes. But two the most important persons are considered to be a Scrum Master and Product Manager. What’s the difference? Let’s make it clear!
Today our post is a comparative article of these positions – their business meanings, basic responsibilities and duties. Also, we will try to understand what should each of these managers have in order to do his best.
Who are Scrum Master and Product Owner?
To begin with, it is crucial to recall the essence of Scrum. This methodology is distinctive in its multi-stage approach to project development with lots of specific procedures, operational meetings (such as kickoff or daily meetings, release planning meetings, etc.) distribution of tasks and other practices. The project work in accordance with Scrum usually makes the entire workflow more ordered, disciplined and well-disposed – and all it is a real catch for present-day business!
Of course, the ultimate success is the merit of each member of the team worked on the project. The efforts of every person have the same level of significance, however, there are more liabilities and obligations for some workers – now we are talking about leadership positions.
The first Scrum manager has such a pretentious name as Scrum Master, who is supposed to be as a curator in the project management and development. This person is responsible for all the activities that related to the project execution. He usually monitors how all the necessary stages of work are performed, and timely solves problems that may become barriers to the project completing.
Then it is the place for Product Owner – it is one more key position in Scrum project management. He is usually accountable for providing a real business goal of the project and stimulating the development team to achieve it. Product Owner helps employees have a good understanding of the project’s main idea, and he cares about financially successful future of the project.
It is evident that both of these specialists play critical project development roles in the whole working process, and they are equally important for a proper project execution. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to assume that one of these positions could be replaced by another – they are totally different in their meanings.
Scrum Master & Product Owner powers
Now it is the time to know about the difference between the areas of responsibilities of Scrum Master and Product Owner – where does the authority of one manager end and the remit of the other begins?
Let’s start with Scrum Master’s following duties:
- Initiating a good connection between the development team and the customer by means of regular meetings and conversations in order to improve the understanding of all the nuances of the project
- Organizing the appropriate workflow and supporting it in a proper way: working stages planning, release timetable and creating a realistic work schedule
- Monitoring the quality of the performed work: QA improvement, program tests writing and executing
- Ensuring constant and close communication with the development team and between their members by dint of daily briefings, where there are new ideas and technological decisions arise and the most important issues are resolved
- Maintaining permanent work reports in writing form and verbally at general meetings with the customer or stakeholders.
And now we will consider what Product Owner does:
- Turning the project into a successful and effective business product that will satisfy not only the needs and wishes of the customer, but also meet the tastes of users and be in demand in the market
- Development of a high-quality and coherent working plan, that will be approved with the customer and Scrum Master and will be executed by the development team
- Prioritization of tasks from the requirement list, identifying the most relevant features and providing all the necessary resources for their timely implementation
- Working with project budgeting and the coordination of the work timing and costs with the customer and other senior management
- Inspection and acceptance (or the non-acceptance in case of some project development troubles) of working progress reports received from Scrum Master.
If we abstract a little about strict Scrum methodology and explain the responsibilities of these employees in the project management language, so we can see the following classification: Scrum Master is most closely to a project manager, and Product Owner has much in common with a product manager. Of course, Scrum tactic of work brings a lot of additional in their obligations, but in general such an equalization is right.
What to do to become Scrum Master or Product Owner
Well, we have discussed the difference between Scrum Master and Product Owner and also we have mentioned their some similar aspects. But what should a specialist do if he wants to work at one of these positions?
Firstly, it should be noted that both of these jobs are not considered to be initial – in order to become a Scrum Master or Product Manager, a person should go through many other project development positions, get a decent experience in the execution of various projects, learn and be imbued with Scrum methodology. Anyway, there are a couple of good tips on what will be useful to learn and to do for growing closer to Scrum Master or Product Owner.
TIp 1 – Fling yourself into Scrum!
It is better not only to read about this methodology and watch some tutorial videos from Scrum coaches, but also to get a real understanding of how the work flows with Scrum! We would like to recommend you to take part in the development of Scrum project as frequently as it is possible. You have to monitor everything that happens closely and note all specific moments in the work with Scrum. Also you should not forget about professional Scrum education and further Scrum certification – it is definitely worth making it!
Tip 2 – Work at least three years as a project manager or product manager
We have already written about these positions and their similarity with Scrum Master and Product Owner, but anyway. If you want to know all the technical and practical peculiarities of these jobs, you should have a considerable working experience at some top management positions. It is necessary to learn all the possible mechanics and manage with it brilliantly.
Now you really know what are the inner workings of Scrum Master and Product Manager. But it is just the top of the entire project development working structure. The most important and basic job is in the continuous practice and constant development of personal professional skills.
We appreciate your attention to our article and we will be glad to know your own opinion about these positions and perhaps your personal working experience – feel free to write to us about it in the comments below.