Scrum Master & Product Owner: the winning duo

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The Scrum Master and the Product Owner are key members of a team working with the Scrum method. In what ways can these two profiles work together? How can you streamline their exchanges and improve their efficiency? This article aims to clearly demonstrate how a Scrum Master and Product Owner can best work together.

Before laying down the details of this collaboration, let’s start by providing a little reminder of what a Scrum Master (SM) and a Product Owner (PO) are.

We tend to underestimate the importance of the quality of the relationship between the Product Owner and the Scrum Master. These two profiles will need to work together closely and will be required to have daily exchanges.

What is a Scrum Master?

The Scrum Master evolves within the Agile method – or to be more precise, the Scrum method. The Scrum method is commonly described as a method based on iterations and on collaboration between team members. Scrum is specifically used in the realization of IT projects for web, mobile or software applications.

The Scrum Master is responsible for the respect and proper application of the rules and framework established by the Scrum method for the project team. They must ensure that the rules are properly implemented on a daily basis. Another responsibility is that they’ll be the person facilitating communication within the team, and between the multiple stakeholders of the project, including:

  • The Originator,
  • The Product Owner,
  • Developers,
  • Designers, etc.

Always attentive to the environment and to the team’s progress and development, the Scrum Master will need to pay close attention to the important events of the day, with the objective of always providing the best guidance to their team.

What is a Product Owner?

Now that we’ve gone over the various attributes of the Scrum Master, let’s move on to the Product Owner. The Product Owner is also part of an agile team developing through the Scrum method.

The Product Owner has a duty to supervise the relationship and work between the principal (which usually includes the client) and the rest of the production team – or more specifically, the team of developers. The Product Owner acts as the interface between whoever is behind the web project and those who transform the idea into lines of code…

The Product Owner therefore presents and disseminates the vision of the product to that needs to be built to the developers. It is up to them to prioritize the tasks and communicate the direction that needs to be pursued. They manage the product backlog, that is, the list of functionalities that constitute the product. They will be the main reference point for the product that will be developed, and will present and lead all of the functional and technical meetings required for the proper development of the IT product.

The importance of quality in the Scrum Master-Product Owner duo

Scrum Master & Product Owner: a solid duo that should not be overlooked
Scrum Master & Product Owner: a solid duo that should not be overlooked

The success of an IT project will depend on the quality of the relationship between the Product Owner and the Scrum Master. We often mistakenly forget that the Scrum Master has a lot to bring to the Product Owner. Indeed, to improve the overall quality of the product the team is working on, the Product Owner will have every interest in relying on the Scrum Master.

The Scrum Master supports the Product Owner in managing the product backlog and defining the product objective. Building a complete and clear vision of the goal you want to go towards is not always easy, and even more so in the case of complex projects. This is why the PO must be able to count fully on the Scrum Master.

Likewise, prioritizing the product backlog can be tedious for the PO, who will therefore be happy to be able to count on the support and help of the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is also fully entitled to write user stories with the Product Owner. However, the PO will obviously remain responsible for the product backlog.

The Scrum Master & Product Owner duo is recommended as a way for establishing standardization within the entire team. This standardization will define:

  • What is a user story?
  • What are the attributes of a user story?
  • What vocabulary and common language will be used within the team?
  • What is the definition of “complete”, “in progress”, “started”, etc.

Quick recap: What is a User Story?

A user story is a sentence which aims to be simple and which, in precise everyday language, describes the functionality to be developed.

All of the user stories will go on to form the final IT product.

The user story models the needs of the end user, and the use case they will make of the application. A key condition of a digital solution is that it will precisely meet the needs of end users.

Through the input of an effective Scrum Master, user stories will be clearer and more intelligible to the development team.

The SM will also allow the PO to deliver quality user stories that will subsequently facilitate quality developments.

Ensure developers have a good understanding of user stories

The Scrum Master needs to also ensure that the team of developers understand the user stories. There shouldn’t be many questions hanging over the user stories written by the PO. Everything must be clear. The SM will help improve production work by reporting team misunderstandings as well as production discrepancies to the PO.

Maintain positive positioning of the Product Owner in the team

The Scrum Master can also intervene to improve the PO’s relationship with the project stakeholders. The PO can and should rely on the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master can help the PO to position themselves well in the Scrum Team and to have all the necessary legitimacy vis-à-vis other members, in order to do their job well. This will be an additional support that can help overcome obstacles.

Last but not least, when the PO is overwhelmed and running out of time, they can turn and delegate tasks to the Scrum Master.

At this point, you’ll hopefully understand how a Product Owner and a Scrum Master who work well together can guarantee that development and a final IT product will work better too.

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