What does a Product Owner do?
A product owner is a member of the Scrum Team responsible for planning and prioritizing work. They do this behind the scenes with either the internal or external stakeholders to create a perfect product roadmap. The Product Owner, with the help of the rest of the Scrum Team and stakeholders, drives for the direction and growth of the product. They do this by interviewing customers, reviewing product feedback, analyzing market trends, and working with the management to approve the overall product vision.
What skills do you need to become a Product Owner?
A Product Owner does almost everything, which also demands a wide range of skills to perform your duties perfectly. To stand out as an Agile Product Owner, here are some skills that you will require:
- Communication Skills: You need to be an effective communicator. It is your responsibility as a Product Owner to understand the customers, work closely with stakeholders to identify business opportunities, and join with development teams to build delightful products.
- Be a problem solver: The process of building a product often faces many problems that require decent solutions. As a PO, you will need to frame problems precisely and team up with teams to build your envisioned products.
- A great storyteller: A good Product Owner must have the skill of building a product story- be good at telling the product’s history. You have to sacrifice time and attention to transform a product’s story into a product feature that delights the end-user.
- Be able to speak the technical language: A good PO must understand the basic functions and possibilities of the market, product, and company’s technical background, and the related limitations. Having technical knowledge is also important in dealing with clients and all the stakeholders.
- Visionary: A great PO is the voice of the customer and together with stakeholders brings visions of the product to life. It is your responsibility to align the product vision with the company’s vision and needs.
What are the responsibilities of a Product Owner?
- Communicating with stakeholders including customers, managers, and the development team to create a clear vision that is aligned with business objectives
- Creating a list of backlog items and prioritizing them based on the business strategy and objectives
- Overseeing the actual development of the product working with the Scrum Master and other stakeholders
- Prioritizing tasks and needs of stakeholders across departments
- Understanding and anticipating client’s needs to effectively manage the development process
- Acting as the primary liaison between the development team and stakeholders
- Inspecting and evaluating product progress through each iteration
A day in the life of a Product Owner
The day of a Product Owner starts with a morning standup meeting which is a daily alignment of the Scrum Team. After the meeting, updating of the product backlog happens- all the tasks required to make a product successful. Often the Product Owner will be invited to discuss problems and find solutions with the Scrum Team. You will then meet with the top management to discuss the next product release, where you provide technical information in an understandable way.
The major role of a Product Owner throughout the day is to check on the functions of the current and next sprint, which is done by keeping up with the product backlog. You will lastly participate in testing meetings and technical sessions during the development cycle of the product to help you gain insight and give strategic guidance.
What does a Scrum Master do?
A Scrum Master is the person on the team that is responsible for managing and facilitating the process. He/ she ensures that the Scrum framework is followed without getting involved in decision-making, but only as a guide. They, however, remain flexible and open to opportunities for the team to improve their workflow. A Scrum Master is also looked at as a servant leader who takes a more holistic approach to work, serving, and supporting others without being part of the hierarchy.
What skills do you need to become a Scrum Master?
- The ability to teach and coach: You will be considered the coach for the Product Owner and the development team, who encourages everyone to improve skills and work together. You will also require strong teaching skills to help everyone follow the agile systems properly, especially to those new to it.
- Be a servant leader: As a Scrum Master, you lead by example by putting the needs of your entire team before individual needs and helping others perform to their best abilities.
- Be collaborative: The Scrum Master needs to have collaboration skills to work together with various teams such as the development team, product owner, and stakeholders. You will need to have the goal of ensuring your team members make it through meetings and iteration planning sessions.
- Have technical knowledge: A Scrum Master works with the product owner to find a system enabling the team to accomplish tasks efficiently. To achieve this, you must have an understanding of the technical terms and processes in place. You are also encouraged to learn how to develop software in an Agile environment, to help push your team ahead with the proper tools to build better programs.
- Be flexible: An important skill for the Scrum Master is being flexible to adopt changes. The Scrum Team is susceptible to problems now and then, and it is your job as the Scrum Master to help them adapt to the changes.
What are the responsibilities of a Scrum Master?
- Planning and executing scrum implementation with the development team
- Coaching and motivating the development team to complete tasks on time
- Helping the development team to create high-value products
- Working with the Product Owner to ensure the product backlog is effective and up to date
- Understanding and practising agility
- Monitoring the sprint’s progress and removing product development roadblocks
A day in the life of a Scrum Master
A great Scrum Master starts their day thinking of the improvements they can bring to the Scrum Team by facilitating creativity and empowerment. You then go on to read and respond to priority emails. You then attend meetings as an observer of what is and isn’t being said before determining the next steps which might be teaching, coaching, facilitating, mentoring, problem-solving, or conflict resolving. You later meet with the Product Owner before facilitating backlog refinement. You must keep in mind that your biggest role is to notice and you should never be too busy not to.
Career prospects and job outlook for a Product Owner/ Scrum Master.
Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t collect data on Scrum Product Owners, it did report on a 10% job growth for the computer & information systems managers, which is much faster than average for all job occupations.
In LinkedIn’s Most Promising Jobs of 2019, the roles of Product Owner and Scrum Master took prominent positions top-15 ranking, taking 10th and 5th place respectively. The agile world is a fast-growing one.
The following is a career ladder for the Product Owner, which enables you to fully appreciate the importance of effective and efficient communication between the various stakeholders in Agile teams:
- Business Analyst
- Project Manager
- Product Manager
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
There is a wide range of opportunities for Scum Masters within their career path. They include the following:
- Agile Coach
- Product Owner
Top 5 Product Owner/ Scrum Master books you MUST read!
- The Professional Scrum Product Owner Book This book is written by two Professional Scrum Trainers Don McGreal and Ralph Jocham who have a combined 40+ years of agile experience. Here you’ll learn how to plan strategy, manage complexity, continuously deliver value, and implement concrete best practices for managing backlogs and releases.
- Your ScrumMaster: This book shares techniques, approaches, methods, tips, tricks, philosophies, and much more to help your company to be Agile.
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. This book teaches you how to forego the old way of gathering all requirements and building your business right from the beginning, and instead embracing the constant experimenting process to build a successful product.
- Impact Mapping: Making a big impact with software products and projects. This book teaches you how to increase ROI by understanding where to put your efforts to impact while trying to minimize efforts. It helps you transform into your inner entrepreneur.
- User Story Mapping: Discover the Whole Story, Build the Right Product. This book offers you essential and some advanced details for you and your team on how to build outstanding products.
5 Best online courses for Product Owner/ Scrum Master
- Professional Scrum Product Owner™ Training
Top-Rated Product Owner Certification: https://productmanagerhq.com/product-owner-certification/
- Scrum Product Owner & Scrum Product Owner Certification: https://www.udemy.com/share/101Zbg/
- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP): https://www.pmi.org/certifications/agile-acp
- Scrum Certification Prep +Scrum Master+ Agile Scrum Training: https://www.udemy.com/share/101Wf6/
- Agile Scrum Product Owner Masterclass: https://www.skillshare.com/classes/Agile-Scrum-Product-Owner-Masterclass/1543630674
- Scrum Basics for Absolute Beginners Skillshare: https://skl.sh/3rVDWHP
Both a Scrum Master and Product Owner work closely together even though their roles differ. In this article, we have covered their difference and why you should consider a career in either. As a Scrum Master, your role will be more about the implementation of the Scrum framework- it is a leadership role. As a Product Owner, your role will be to plan and prioritize the Scrum teamwork. Whichever role you decide suits you, remember that you have the opportunity to grow your skills and climb the corporate ladder.
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you.