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How Can The Scrum Master Support The Product Owner?

The Scrum framework makes use of certain roles that need to be filled for everything to run smoothly.

Two of the most prominent roles are the Scrum master and the product owner. Although these have different responsibilities, one of the Scrum master’s responsibilities is to support the product owner.

But how, exactly, can the Scrum master support the product owner?

In this article, we’ve addressed that exact question. Below, you’ll find a list of all the different services the Scrum master should provide the product owner.

What Is The Role Of The Scrum Master?

Scrum masters are, ultimately, the facilitators of Scrum. According to the Scrum Guide, they are servant leaders. This means that they do whatever is needed to help the team implement Scrum and agile processes.

They should be committed to the foundations of Scrum, yet flexible enough to help the team improve and refine their processes.

The Scrum master and the product owner often work very closely with one another. However, each performs distinct roles, and you should always have both a scrum master and a product owner.

While the product owner focuses on the what, the Scrum master focuses on the how. The product owner should deal with the product backlog and figure out how to maximize the product’s value. The Scrum master, on the other hand, should lead the development team and support the product owner.

Responsibilities

1. Facilitate Events

The Scrum master should facilitate Scrum events and ensure that these events are in line with Scrum’s best practices and procedures.

For example, the Scrum master must prevent the development team from overcommitting in the planning meetings. They must also ensure that the daily scrum takes place and is efficient.

The Scrum master is there to capture feedback and note areas for improvement during the sprint reviews and retrospectives.

Ultimately, the Scrum master must help the team make the most of the Scrum events.

2. Coach Team Members

Scrum masters experts at Scrum and agile processes. They are there to coach the team members in these processes.

Team members should understand the principles and values of agile software development. They should know what the Scrum events and artifacts are, and how to make the most of them.

The Scrum master is there to get the team members to this point. They should empower the team members to implement the Scrum and agile principles and processes themselves.

Learning is a continuous process. The Scrum master should always be there to answer questions. They should constantly be building on team members’ existing Scrum knowledge.

3. Remove Impediments

While the development team is working on a sprint, they will identify any roadblocks. These are impediments that are making it difficult for them to work productively and reach their goals on time.

Team members will usually first try and resolve the roadblocks themselves.

However, if they need help, they will turn to the Scrum master. The Scrum master is there to do anything they can to ensure that the roadblocks are resolved as quickly as possible.

4. Board Administration

The Scrum master is the Scrum board’s administrator. They must ensure that all the cards are updated. Moreover, they must ensure that the team’s Scrum tool of choice is running successfully.

5. Internal Consulting And One-On-One Time

Scrum masters act as internal consultants. They should always be on hand to answer any questions that members of the team may have about Scrum and agile.

Scum masters should also be available to consult with team members and stakeholders about how to best go about the project.

Disagreements can arise in the workplace. When they do, it is the Scrum masters that need to come in and smooth things over. They should hold one-on-ones with involved parties to iron out any disagreements or address tensions.

6. Other Busy Work

The Scrum master is also there to complete any miscellaneous tasks that need to get done. They’re the ones to call if computers need to get fixed, or tables need to be moved.

They are there to do whatever they can to make the lives of the team easier, and should not be above a late-night coffee run.

7. Support The Product Owner

The Scrum master is there to help the product owner maximize product value. This one responsibility includes many different services.

Each one is essential to the success of the sprint, and we will cover them extensively below.

How Can The Scrum Master Support The Product Owner?

1. Help Define The Needs Of The Product

The Scrum master can support the product owner by helping them define the needs of the product. The needs of the product refer to the product’s goal and scope.

This is often called the scope definition. It is one of the most important (if not the most important) phases of the Scrum process.

At the end of the day, everything the Scrum team is doing is to meet the client’s needs. If they misunderstand these needs, it will affect every single phase of the process.

If defining the product needs gets complicated and the product owner needs assistance, they should look to the Scrum master for help.

The Scrum master should then do everything they can to ensure that the product statement is correct. Two minds are better than one, and some product owners prefer to work with the Scrum master in this phase.

2. Convey The Goal And Scope Of The Product To The Team

It is not enough for the Scrum master to help the product owner define the needs of the product. The Scrum master must also ensure that these needs are accurately conveyed to the development team.

The Scrum master should also help the product owner describe the value of the product. The team must understand just how important it is for the product to be delivered on time.

Just like defining the needs of the product, conveying these needs to the team is crucial. Any miscommunications could cause major problems down the line, and waste time and resources.

Once the team understands the product’s needs, they can start familiarising themselves with the tools and techniques they will use to meet these needs.

3. Backlog Management

Backlog management is one of the most crucial ways the Scrum master can support the product owner.

The product owner is tasked with creating and managing the product backlog. However, the Scrum master must do as much as they can to help the product owner with this.

By doing so, the Scum master helps ensure that the product backlog is always up-to-date and accurate. This is essential, given the important role the product backlog plays in the overall project.

The product backlog is a list of items that the development team needs to follow. The items are features that need to be developed and delivered to the client. They are listed in order of priority, ensuring that the most important ones are covered first.

The Scrum master should help the product owner identify which features are the most important. They should also check in with the development team, and ensure that they are following this backlog and focusing on the right items.

4. Make Sure That The Team Understands The Product Backlog

The Scrum master should help the product owner ensure that the development team has a clear understanding of the items on the backlog.

This involves helping the product owner answer any questions the development team may have about these items.

It also involves helping the product owner explain each item on the backlog and its importance to the team.

It is a good idea for the Scrum master to explain to the development team that they should not hesitate if they have a question about one of the items.

Lastly, the Scrum master should help the development team update the backlog. Any estimates and dependencies should be added to the backlog as soon as possible for everything to run smoothly.

5. Help The Product Owner Maximise Value

Although it is the product owner’s responsibility to maximize value, the Scrum master can, and should, help them.

The best way to help the product owner maximize value is to guide them through the process of prioritizing backlog items.

The Scrum master will usually have learned a lot about this from past experiences. They should have a good idea of which items should be at the top of the list to maximize value.

For example, they can help the product owner apply techniques that are commonly used to help prioritize backlog items.

One of the most popular techniques is called MoSCoW. This involves labeling an item as must have, should have, could have, or not have. These indicate the priority they should be given to each task (with must have being the most important and not have being the least).

6. Facilitate The Relationship Between The Product Owner And Other Parties

Another way the Scrum master can support the product owner is by facilitating important relationships. They should help establish and maintain relationships between the product owner and other important parties. These parties include developers, integrators, ordering parties, and more.

Ultimately, the Scrum master should do all they can to ensure that everyone is on good terms and is working together effectively.

This means being a guardian of the product owner’s positive relationships. It also means ensuring that every team member and stakeholder is engaged in the process and is contributing to the shared goal.

Moreover, the Scrum master must play an active role in ensuring that the client is knowledgeable about the product realization.

When the client understands what is going on, they can be more present during critical phases. These include the planning phase, sprint review, acceptance tests, and more.

The client can play an active role in the product realization, collaborating with the product owner to reach the best possible outcome.

7. Help With Product Planning In An Empirical Atmosphere

Product planning works best when it happens in an empirical atmosphere. An empirical atmosphere is an environment in which work is guided by experimentation and past experience.

The Scrum master will typically have a decent amount of experience with developing products. They should know what has and has not worked in the past.

This allows the Scrum master to draw knowledge from previous projects to help foster an empirical work environment.

This makes them the perfect person to ensure that the product owner and development team are planning in an empirical atmosphere.

8. Facilitate Scrum Events

Scrum events (sometimes called Scrum ceremonies) are meetings that are held throughout the Scrum sprint process. They are essential to the success of your sprint, ensuring that all team members are motivated and on the same page.

There are different types of events, and each plays an important role in the success of the sprint. For example, the daily scrums keep everyone on track and up to date, while the sprint retrospective helps refine the process.

The Scrum master should help the product owner by facilitating these Scrum events. They should be present to ensure that all events take place and fulfill their purpose.

9. Help The Team Practice Agile

Scrum projects should be developed in line with agile. This means the team needs to implement the tools, processes, and techniques of agile software development.

The product owner should understand the world of agile. However, the Scrum master works more closely with these agile processes.

They should assist the product owner by helping the team practice agile software development and make the most of these practices.

Final Thoughts

One of the Scrum master’s main responsibilities is to support the product owner.

However, this support can take many different forms, with each one being essential to the success of the sprint.

From helping with backlog management to facilitating Scrum events, the Scrum master is the secret to the product owner’s success in maximizing product value.

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