Although they both have the same objective, a Scrum Master's main focus are its team and operations of the team. Lined up are the key differences between them.

The Differences Between a Product Owner and a Scrum Master

Although they both have the same objective, a Scrum Master's main focus are its team and operations of the team. Lined up are the key differences between them.

Keyword(s): scrum master, product owner

Are you curious about whether your team needs a Product Owner or Scrum Master? Or are you considering which role is a better fit for your personality?

If so, then you’re in the right place. We’ll break down the key differences between your Scrum Master role and that of the Product Owner.

Don’t worry if the titles confuse you, keep reading to learn all about what each role does and how they can help your team.

What is SAFe?

The agile methodology has been turning heads since its inception at the turn of the 21st century by like-minded software developers. Today agile is being adopted by more than just software developers. Teams everywhere are embracing the roles of the agile process.

Within the agile process are four key roles, the stakeholders, the scrum master, the product owner, and the scrum team.

The difference between a scrum master vs product owner can be subtle, but strong agile teams understand they need both. These two leaders will work together in tandem to guide their teams towards production. All while maintaining an agile environment (1) and lean production.

The SAFe environment is a framework that allows large organizations to utilize the same agile process as smaller companies. Your company can quickly get your next product to market.

Organizations across various industries are all adopting the agile methodology. This is helping them to streamline and improve their development process.

Keeping your business agile becomes increasingly difficult the bigger your corporation becomes. However, the SAFe model allows larger companies to incorporate the agile methodology into their product development framework.

What is a Product Owner?

The Product Owner works behind the scenes in your organization. They work to incorporate several departments into the production process. They spin many plates and balance many team members to ensure that the best product is delivered to the customer.

While the product manager is forward-facing and interacts with the clients, the Product Owner is active in the back end interacting with the various departments working together to develop the product.

The product owner is responsible for ensuring that the customer’s priorities and requirements are met throughout the development and production of the new product.

The product owner is the liaison between the stakeholders and the teams working every day on the project. The product owner defines the user story and its iterations. They are responsible for contributing the vision and roadmap along with the product manager.

Smaller organizations might be able to get away with combining the product owner and product manager. However, as your company grows you will need separate people to fill each role.

The product owner is not necessarily at every meeting, as the scrum master is, but they are kept up to date on all decisions and meetings by the product manager.

Scrum

What is the Scrum Master?

The scrum master is more involved in the day-to-day processes of the product development process. The scrum master is in charge of the implementation of the scrum process.

Their responsibilities include coordinating the team, managing the daily scrum meetings, and ensuring the process goes smoothly. Additionally, they are good communicators and listeners, they work with the team to ensure collaboration across all departments.

They coach the team when obstacles arise, they ensure that the definition of done is never changed, and they ensure that the scrum process is followed. They are also accountable for ensuring the product is delivered on time and budget.

The scrum master is responsible for ensuring that the team and operations are on track and will be completed on time. They are problem solvers and process developers, they are creative in the planning process and ensure that the backlog is prioritized and on time. Learning to be an effective scrum master isn't easy, but it can be very gratifying.

The scrum master and product owner must work together to deliver the best results possible for the customers. The scrum master plays a vital role in ensuring that the process is maintained and eventually is a success.

Key Differences Between Them

There are several key differences between the scrum master and product owner. Here we lay them out for you to see:

The Product Owner must:

  • Determine the deadlines
  • Determine the release date
  • Manage the backlog
  • Define the user stories


The Scrum Master must:

  • Keep the team from distraction
  • Assist the team in tackling obstacles
  • Manage the process and methodology
  • Arrange the daily stand up meetings and facilitate the process


As you can see these two roles are complementary and must work together to ensure the agile process is followed. They must cooperate to ensure the product is built efficiently and delivered on time.

Without each role, the process can become muddled and teams run the risk of working in silos away from each other. With the skilled training of quality scrum masters and product owners, the agile process is seamless and efficient.

The Same Objective With Different Roles

In a nutshell, the product owner is the big picture visionary who listens to the customer. They create product features that will ensure you create the perfect product for your clients.

The Scrum Master is the day-to-day tactician who can think on their feet and put out fires as they crop up.

Both roles are imperative to the scrum process and must work together to ensure the timely development of the best product possible.

With the proper training, your scrum master and product owner can work together to deliver the best product possible to your customer. We work hard every day to facilitate the learning and development of agile technicians and we want to work with your team to build the right environment at your organization today.

If you have any questions about how you can better train your team to facilitate the SAFe process, contact us today.

External resources:
1. The Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/12/agile-manifesto-a-history/547715/


Advised Skills Research Team - Blog Author 
The Advised Skills Research Team is a professional group dedicated to investigating and publishing information on the latest trends in technology and training.
This team delves into emerging advancements to provide valuable insights, empowering individuals and organizations to stay ahead.
Their work significantly contributes to the ever-evolving landscape of technological education and workforce development.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Differences between a Product Owner and a Scrum Master

  1. What is the main focus of a Product Owner?
    The Product Owner is focused on ensuring that the customer’s priorities and requirements are met throughout the development and production of the product.
  2. How does a Scrum Master support the development process?
    The Scrum Master supports the development process by coordinating the team, managing daily scrum meetings, and ensuring the scrum process goes smoothly.
  3. Who is responsible for defining user stories?
    The Product Owner is responsible for defining user stories.
  4. What role does the Scrum Master play in daily stand-up meetings?
    The Scrum Master arranges the daily stand-up meetings and facilitates the process.
  5. How do the Product Owner and Scrum Master collaborate?
    They work together to ensure the agile process is followed, cooperating to ensure the product is built efficiently and delivered on time.
  6. Who is responsible for managing the backlog?
    The Product Owner is responsible for managing the backlog​.
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