4 Ways a Scrum Master Can Really Support a Product Owner
Product Owners have the heavy task of being the guarantor of the product being developed through the Scrum method. Depending on the complexity of the planned IT product, the project context and many other contingent factors, the Product Owner can face obstacles that are sometimes very difficult to overcome alone, and which can cause a project to fail. This is where the Scrum Master comes in
Throughout the lifespan of the web, mobile or software project, various points of vigilance must be considered by the Product Owner. Luckily, they can look to their Scrum Master for assistance in this important task.
1. Participate in defining a project’s need
The definition of the scope of the project is a phase that needs to be treated with great attention. Clearly and intelligibly understanding and defining the client’s needs tends to be the most delicate and important part of a project. It sets the foundations of all the developments that will follow.
If this phase is especially complicated, a Scrum Master will have every interest in helping the Product Owner in getting it done, so that the project will be established on strong foundations.
2. Facilitate the relationship and collaboration between the Product Owner and project stakeholders
The Scrum Master is the person who will help the Product Owner establish and maintain good relationships with other team members: integrators, developers, the ordering party, etc. The Scrum Master will stand act as an observer and guardian of the positive relationships that the Product Owner establishes. The Scrum Master can ensure that each team member and stakeholder is involved and participates in the process.
The Scrum Master is responsible for trying to educate, train and coach the client/principal to be invested and involved in the realization of their product. The principal must be present during the strategic phases of the project: sprint review, user acceptance tests (UAT), etc.
This kind of support from the Scrum Master will generate a more efficient production line and it will also improve the quality of the deliverables.
The Scrum Master can also assist the Product Owner in setting up a strategy to collect as much feedback as possible. Indeed, obtaining and understanding business or user feedback that can help develop the most effective digital solution that best meets end user needs can be complicated. The Scrum Master will pursue this goal, and will help the Product Owner to collect other feedback in addition to that which is conventionally collected during sprint reviews or user acceptance phases.
3. Ensure the Product Owner is well-positioned in the Scrum Team
The Scrum Master will help the Product Owner position themselves in the Scrum Team. The most important thing is that the positioning is accepted and validated by the whole team – this is a condition that will directly affect the success of the project, and is a mandatory condition for everything to run smoothly.
The Scrum team should take decisions together and manages itself: it will ideally be in a state of autonomous self-management. Developers can also write user stories like the Product Owner or the Scrum Master. The most important thing is to clearly define at the outset who does what. The roles should not be compartmentalized. The Scrum Master should instil this agile mindset within the team.
4. Help the Product Owner overcome obstacles
If the Product Owner encounters problems during the project, the Scrum Master will help them overcome these obstacles. It is in this context that the strength of the true duo is proven.
For example, imagine that the Product Owner takes a 2 week-vacation. How will the Product Owner manage their absence?
They may prepare everything upstream, before the vacation, so that everything goes well when they are gone. In theory this would be ideal, but this option has several drawbacks. It risks restricting and compartmentalizing the team during the period in question, depriving them of a certain agility in their movements. This option of preparing everything in advance also takes away the empirical component of the scrum method, meaning that the team can no longer really learn from its mistakes.
Therefore, the best option is normally for the Product Owner to delegate their tasks to the Scrum Master during the absence. The Scrum Master can take over the role temporarily.
Other obstacles that may be difficult to resolve on your own may need the additional insight of the Scrum Master. This can help to:
- Make the right decisions for the project: prioritize the development of a particular feature, etc.
- Know how to say no: for example, saying no when the ordering party requests the deployment of a feature in production, but doing so will have a negative impact on the application or production schedule.
- Modify the parameters of the current sprint (or not).
- Manage a difficult team: inappropriate humor, personal conflicts, introverted personalities, extroverted personalities, different work logics, lack of communication, jealousy, etc.
There’s a long list of complicated situations in which the Scrum Master will be a valuable and reliable support to help a Product Owner to keep their head above water.
To conclude, we should emphasize that the Scrum Master should be continuously ready to support the Product Owner in their needs. This should be exercised smoothly throughout the project.
When tasks are added, unforeseen events arise or when research work needs to be done, a Scrum Master should be ready to help a Product Owner – the latter does not always have time to manage everything themselves.
Do not hesitate to share with us your feedback on how you have set up this powerful duo within your project.
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