Undoubtedly, the Product Owner (PO) and Scrum Master (SM) are the two important assets and elements behind successful Agile software development. But there are still a lot of puzzling questions when it comes to comparing a Product Owner vs Scrum Master based on the similarities and differences of their roles.
So, this article aims to help clear your mind on queries like what is Scrum Master and Product Owner. What factors make them alike? And most importantly, the 5 key differences between these two roles. 

Product owner vs scrum master – meaning, role, requirements, and benefits

This section will help you unearth the Product Owner Vs Scrum Master.

Product Owner Vs Scrum Master

What is a scrum master?

A Scrum Master is known to be a great coordinator in an Agile team. They are brilliant at managing information exchange among the members to ensure everyone follows the Scrum framework. Moreover, the Scrum Master facilitates the team to improve methods so they can achieve their planned objectives. 

Also Read: 6 Agile Secrets to Solve Multiple Scrum Teams Working on the Same Product

Scrum master role and responsibilities

Wondering what does a Scrum Master does? Here are the essential Scrum Master roles.

Team coaching

Scrum Masters make sure that all the team members understand scrum events and Agile principles. Plus, they ensure each member knows their responsibilities in the team. 

Helping product owners to gain work efficiency by applying agile methods

A Scrum Master is a person who supports the Product Owner in accomplishing their duties. So whether it’s about backlog creation, maintenance, sharing, prioritizing, or any other Product Owner’s responsibility, the Scrum Master makes ways to ease the process by fulfilling their own duties. 

Hurdle crusher

One of the main duties of a Scrum Master is to determine all the impediments blocking the sprint planning and then eliminate them. They work across the departments to remove blockers causing difficulty in project completion.

Teaching scrum to the entire organization

Scrum is the front person who leads the whole company toward implementing the scrum framework. To do that, they advise, teach and train the members about scrum methodologies to ensure that none of the development efforts become lesser in intensity.

Criteria to become a scrum master

Following are the guidelines on how to become a Scrum Master.      

  • Agile mindset
  • Leadership skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Scrum Master certifications
  • 5 to 7 years of experience in project management
  • Knowledge and understanding of Agile practices and principles

Advantages of working as a scrum master

With possessing the role of a Scrum Master, your job comes with several benefits, such as:

Professional advancement

When you work after completing your Scrum Master Agile certification, it elevates your understanding of Agile concepts and Scrum framework practically. The certificate you hold gives you more growth opportunities as you begin to implement scrum methodology on a live project.
Moreover, working as a Scrum Master helps you achieve a leadership position as you help scrum teams win shared goals. And ensure that the planned process is being executed correctly. 

Increased scrum knowledge

As a Scrum Master, you must have a strong grip on all kinds of scrum activities. This includes all major scrum activities like a scrum of scrum, sprint backlog, and burn-down charts.
When you work as an SM, you become an expert in scrum frameworks over time, which ultimately help you enhance your team’s productivity, mitigate misconceptions, and support scrum teams in achieving their tasks. 

Higher compensation

Great responsibilities also come with higher perks. As per Scrum Alliance, the average annual salary of a Scrum Master is around $95,000. At the same time, a scrum team member earns up to $88,000 yearly. 

What is a product owner?

Product Owners foresee and bring products to life by ensuring the development teams work according to the planned tasks. Furthermore, they organize and monitor the product backlog to make sure all the tasks are prioritized in the right way. 

Product owner roles and responsibilities

A Product Owner is often confused with Product Manager vs Project Manager. However, these two positions are different from Product Owner responsibilities. It is important to remember that a Product Owner is accountable for product vision and backlog. But there are more duties to fulfill, including:

  • Maintain product backlog
  • Ensuring timely project completion
  • Confirming that multiple scrum teams are working on all the planned iterations
  • Sharing product vision and making sure that the development team is building it correctly
  • To help the development team build and design digital products according to the market trends
  • Communicating with different teams, such as development and scrum teams, to ensure they are achieving product goals

Criteria to become a product owner

Although there are no formal academic degree requirements to become a PO, you must have excellent knowledge of the Agile framework. If you are a certified scrum Product Owner, it can be additional support to conquer this role because that will draw a fine line between being a Product Owner vs Product Manager.
So, here are a few more requirements to become a Product Owner (PO).

  • Communication skills and Agile skills
  • Knowledge of scrum events and objects
  • Understanding the process of product development

Advantages of working as a product owner

There are three main reasons why you should work as a Product Owner in a reputable firm.

Advanced leadership abilities

A Product Owner is supposed to have excellent leadership qualities, which come with experience. Being a PO, you become in charge of a product and learn how to complete it successfully. In this entire process, you also master collaboration skills as you are in frequent communication with the development team. 

Gain more knowledge for career boost

After securing the role as a Product Owner, you can enroll in other certifications to grow your career, such as:

  • Certified Product Manager (CPM) 
  • Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSM)
  • SAFe Product Owner/Product Manager (POPM)

Increased income opportunities

According to Scrum Alliance, a Product Owner with a single certification and less than 5 years of experience is expected to earn around $93,000 annually. Contrarily, a PO with multiple certifications and 5-7 years of experience can enjoy a yearly income of up to $103,000.

Similarities between a product owner vs scrum master

Let’s explore the likeness between Product Owner vs Scrum Master responsibilities.

  • None of them is above the other in the hierarchy
  • Both of them work with the software development team
  • Both roles are required to make a successful Agile team
  • They both ensure that the team is following the scrum framework
  • PO and SM are important players in Agile development and vital for an Agile delivery
  • Despite having different duties, both of them need one another for successful project completion

5 key differences between product owner vs scrum master

PO and SM are like backlog vs sprint or team vs product. Therefore, here are the 5 factors that make Product Owner vs Scrum Master two different roles. 

Product Owner Vs Scrum Master

 

A product owner ensures

  • Correct software is being built through Agile ways
  • Long-term development goals are achieved

A scrum master ensures

  • Successful day-to-day achievement of tasks
  • The sprint is going as planned, and the team is performing as per the expectations
  • Maintaining and promoting Agile methodology among the development team members, as well as the PO

Also Read: Who Owns Quality in a Scrum Team – Exposing the Truths with Facts

Conclusion

Similar to Project Manager vs Product Manager, the Product Owner vs Scrum Master are two different roles. An Agile Scrum Master focuses on attaining everyday goals, while a Product Owner focuses more on completing and delivering projects on time. Nevertheless, their joint Agile leadership creates successful and unbeaten digital products.
At Slash, we have a team of skilled software engineers with, a cherry on top, experienced Scrum Masters and Product Owners. Our professionals follow the latest Agile development practices to ensure your product is built efficiently and on time. Contact us to obtain a top-notch development team under the supervision of PO and SM.

FAQs – product owner vs scrum master

Is a PO higher than a SM? Both PO and SM are leaders in their own domain. None of them is higher since this is against the Agile principles. 

Should product owners be scrum masters? The Product Owner and Scrum Master require different skills and, therefore, are different roles to be managed by distinct people. 

What is the difference between a scrum master, product owner, and project manager? A Scrum Master supports the Scrum process, and the Product Owner is liable for backlog and product vision. Whereas a Project Manager is responsible for the entire project, including planning, managing, and execution within the budget.

Is a scrum master higher than a project manager? Although the roles of a Scrum Master and Project Manager are different, they are equal in the Agile hierarchy. 

 

Aditya Prakarsa
Aditya Prakarsa
Software Developer
Aditya has worked as a software developer for more than 10 years. He has also worked as a sales and marketing manager for more than 5 years. He joined Slash in 2021 as an Iteration Manager and has since been introduced to Agile. He has discovered the benefits and advantages of Agile in software delivery when compared to traditional software delivery or Waterfall. Working as an Iteration Manager has forced him to deep dive more into Agile and its frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, and XP.
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