Scrum Masters and Product Owners: The vital roles they play in software delivery


Preparation & Planning:

These are the same in essence for agile and Scrum, but the difference is that Scrum works in smaller time frames called sprints. 

For sprint planning, you work with Scrum artifacts (vital information and steps for stakeholders and team members). The product backlog comes from the Product Owner based on market requirements. It’s the to-do list for everything you know is necessary for the project, which is used by the Scrum Master to develop your sprint backlog. That’s where technical requirements are turned into tasks to be divided up for your Scrum teams.

Design, Development & Testing:

For agile, this is the full project development timeline. In Scrum, these are broken up into sprints with the goal of creating a potentially releasable product increment (another Scrum artifact).

The product increment encompasses everything from the product backlog that was finished in that sprint. At the end of each sprint, your team will assess the increment in the sprint review. After that, a sprint retrospective takes place, so the interdepartmental teams can evaluate the process itself and make sure it’s working smoothly. Only when both of these are done do they plan the next sprint.

Release & Upkeep:

When your product goes to launch. Agile will include upgrades and user troubleshooting that occurs after the product release, while Scrum is typically focused on development and testing more than user support.

What is a Scrum Master?

scrum master photo in a sprint with the team

The Scrum Master is involved in the leadership of Scrum hierarchy. They’re responsible for making sure agile teams are effective by creating an office atmosphere for the Scrum framework to help the organization. They’ll coach Scrum teams and other colleagues in the values and theories behind this framework, so they can be productive in every sprint. Other leadership roles will work closely with the Scrum Master to measure progress, remove project bottlenecks or obstacles, and facilitate collaboration.

Scrum Masters aren’t directors as much as they are mentors. If a team member asks why a task needs to be done, they will explain the reasoning and how this task affects the product vision and market requirements. This open communication keeps personnel motivated and fosters a workplace where employees share their thoughts.

If you haven’t implemented agile methodology or a Scrum process framework, remember that these are both focused on user-friendliness. They make complex tasks simpler, so they are relatively easy to adopt in your organization.

Read: Scrum Master's Insights

What is a Product Owner/Manager?

Product owner illustration

They are essentially the visionary behind the project. Product Managers act as a connecting point between teams that keeps the product aligned with market requirements for maximum potential. As the person who ensures the team is pacing well and stakeholders are kept in the loop, they tend to have a wide range of skills that helps them coordinate with various professionals. Marketing, development, and more—a Product Owner is going to have some knowledge about all of it. They might delegate tasks or take some on themselves, but they are primarily accountable for tasks getting done either way.

They’re also top-notch coordinators, often balancing conflicting priorities to make sure everyone is satisfied with the team’s progress. These communication skills will also be useful as they meet with clients and form business relationships that move the company forward.

When to Use, a Scrum Master and Product Owner

If you are in a position where you need to pick either a Scrum Master or a Product Owner, here are example ideal circumstances for each role to help you make the decision. Better yet, a solution that helps you keep them both working in tandem—to the benefit of your business.

  • Team collaboration and regular updates are crucial:

A Scrum Master will be your best option here, as the Scrum framework includes routine meetings. A Product Manager would have to develop a meeting schedule separately. Scrum teams already meet daily in standups, and they’ll also meet periodically outside of that to discuss their progress and any changes they need to make. The Scrum Master can relay these updates to stakeholders and other departments as needed. Where collaboration is required, they can easily bring teams together to work on the project’s development in Scrum.

  • External and stakeholder communication is a priority:

For this, a Product Manager is the ideal fit. A Scrum Master can do these things, of course, but a Product Owner specializes in communication across teams. Their purpose is to balance various interests during development and ensure the team is making progress on all fronts. If that’s your focus and would define success or failure for the project, it makes sense to choose a Product Manager to lead development.

  • Evaluate staff augmentation or project outsourcing:

Contact us today to discuss the scope of your project and see how Devsu can help you.


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