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Scrum Master vs Product Owner: Who Does What?

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

In the Scrum framework, understanding roles and responsibilities is crucial for a project's success. Two pivotal roles you may have heard of are the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. Both contribute to the project but in different ways. So, we’ve written this article to summarise the differences between a Scrum Master and a Product Owner. Let's dive into the details to clarify the roles, their responsibilities, and how they complement each other.


What is a Scrum Master?

A Scrum Master serves as a facilitator and coach for a Scrum team, helping the team use Scrum practices and principles to deliver high-quality products. They work to remove any impediments that the team faces, facilitating Scrum events, and ensuring that the Scrum framework is followed.

Key Responsibilities of a Scrum Master

  • Facilitate Scrum ceremonies like Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-ups, and Sprint Reviews

  • Remove obstacles that the team might face during the Sprint

  • Coach the team in Scrum principles

  • Ensure a productive relationship between the team and Product Owner

  • Protect the team from external interruptions and distractions.

What is a Product Owner?

The Product Owner is the individual responsible for the product backlog, a prioritised list of features, enhancements, and bug fixes for the product. They represent the stakeholders and customers, focusing on delivering maximum business value.

Key Responsibilities of a Product Owner

  • Prioritise the product backlog

  • Specify backlog items clearly and concisely

  • Make scope and timeline decisions

  • Act as the liaison between the Scrum team and stakeholders

  • Accept or reject work results during Sprint Reviews

The Differences Explained

Here we’ve tried to explain the differences.

Focus

  • Scrum Master: Focuses on the Scrum team and process

  • Product Owner: Focuses on the product and business value

Stakeholder Interaction

  • Scrum Master: Minimal interaction with stakeholders, more internal team focus

  • Product Owner: Constant interaction with stakeholders to gather requirements and feedback

Ceremonial Roles

  • Scrum Master: Facilitates Scrum ceremonies

  • Product Owner: Participates in Scrum ceremonies but does not facilitate

Decision-making

  • Scrum Master: Does not make decisions about the product backlog

  • Product Owner: Makes decisions about what goes into the product backlog

Complementary Roles

While the Scrum Master and Product Owner have distinct roles, they must work closely to achieve a successful outcome. The Scrum Master ensures the team can work as effectively as possible, while the Product Owner ensures the team is working on the most valuable tasks. Together, they serve as the cornerstone of any successful Scrum project.

In summary

Understanding the difference between a Scrum Master and a Product Owner is crucial for anyone involved in Scrum projects. By clarifying their responsibilities and how they interact, you're setting the stage for a more effective and efficient Scrum process - and healthier projects.

So, whether you're a Scrum veteran or just starting out, knowing the roles and their nuances can only empower you to make better decisions and contribute more effectively to your team.

Twenty Collective provides public and in-house Scrum Master and Product Owner training.



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