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Scrum

ScrumMaster vs. Product Owner

Agile Organizations are exponentially increasing in the market, and with that, the job opportunities in Agile have also increased in the past decade. Since Agile has solved most of the issues faced by many organizations compared to traditional software methodologies, many companies from various industries prefer Agile over different methodologies. Initiatives such as aerospace, construction, architecture, software manufacturing, and production have been interested in Agile, and many domains have implemented it in their company. With the growth in Agile Methodology frameworks such as Scrum, the career options such as ScrumMaster and Product Owner have become very popular in recent years. Companies only hire certified professionals and who have an enhanced knowledge of the framework and understand the principles and values of Agile Methodology.

The roles of ScrumMaster and Product Owner have been interchanged and been confused for many years. Many professionals do not understand how the professions vary and what their roles and responsibilities are. However, both of these roles are distinct and have various tasks that they need to fulfill such that the project and the organization reach success. The company can derive most of the benefits of Agile Methodology. A ScrumMaster can be considered as a servant leader that helps the Scrum Development Team achieve their Sprint Goals and solves any impediments that come in the Development Team’s way. A Product Owner is a professional who has a vision for the product and is the primary person who communicates between the Development Team and the customers. This article discusses the differences between the ScrumMaster and the Product Owner in a more concise yet detailed manner. Any individual can differentiate between career options.

Differences Between ScrumMaster and Product Owner

CriteriaScrumMasterProduct Owner
ResponsibilityHelps the team to use the Scrum Framework by following the values and practices of Scrum. They also help the Development Team to build quality products and solve any impediments which causes problems to the product development. The Product Owner forms a key link between the Development Team and the customers. They understand the requirements of the customer and ensure that the Development Team builds the products that satisfies the customer.
Nature
of work
The ScrumMaster acts as a Servant Leader and guides the Development Team to the success of the product. They act as a liaison between the management and the Development Team. Hence, a ScumMaster can be considered as a coach for the team that helps them whenever required. The Product Owner has to be visionary and has to collaborate with the Development Team to develop the product. The nature of the Product Owner’s work may be tougher as compared to the work of the ScrumMaster. However a professional with all the skills required to handle the position could manage the job responsibilities.
AccountabilityThe ScrumMaster is accountable to help do Scrum right, and that Scrum benefits the team.The Product Owner is solely responsible for maintaining the Product Backlog. They are also responsible for completing the project in time and also have to inform the client about the projects from time to time.
QualitiesThe ScrumMaster should be a servant leader. They should be able to lead the team but should not have a sense of authority with the team. They should also have excellent problem solving abilities and should be an effective communicator along with a good listener.The Product Owner is supposed to be an excellent communicator as they have to convey their ideas to both the Stakeholders and the Development Team. Creativity, Critical Thinking, sharp mind, and ability to manage people and the Product Backlog should be few of the qualities required for a Product Owner.
ReportingThough there is no formal responsibility of creating reports, usually, the ScrumMaster creates/submits the reports and discusses the on-going process that is taking place with regard to the product development efforts. The Product Owner reports to the top management and the client about the on-going product construction. The responsibility of updating the report status is taken primarily by the product owners.
SalaryThe average annual salary of a ScrumMaster is around $90kThe average annual salary of a Product Owner is around $85k
Certification JourneyAn individual can become a certified ScrumMaster by completing the certified Scrum Master certification, followed by the advanced ScrumMaster certification and  the Certified Scrum Professional- ScrumMaster. Following which the person can either complete Certified Team Coach certification (CTC), Certified Enterprise Course Coach Certification (CEC), and the Certified Scrum Trainer certification (CST). An individual becomes a certified Product Owner by completing the certified Product Owner certification, followed by Advanced Scrum Product Owner certification and Certified Scrum Professional- Product Owner.Following which the professional can complete Certified Team Coach certification (CTC), Certified Enterprise Course Coach Certification (CEC), and the Certified Scrum Trainer certification (CST). 

ScrumMaster

ScrumMaster acts as a servant leader to serve the Development Team and help them whenever they require any assistance. A ScrumMaster does not ask the Development Team, “What are you going to do for me today?” Instead, they ask what they can do for them today such that they are closer to achieving the task for the day. Hence, they have a diverse role in being a team leader and simultaneously helping the team achieve the goals to complete the product development mostly through sprints. 

A ScrumMaster is a person who is approached by the members of the Development Team whenever they face any impediments. They should have excellent communication and problem-solving ability to resolve any issues and make sure that the product’s development and delivery are quick. A ScrumMaster is also responsible for arranging various Scrum Events such as Sprint Planning, Sprint Reviewing, daily stand-ups, etc. They coordinate with the team to ensure all the Scrum Events are completed smoothly, and the goal of the meeting is achieved.

Benefits of Becoming a Certified ScrumMaster
  • Getting a solid base and practical knowledge about Scrum Framework.
  • Staying relevant to the market and having skills that are mostly demanded by many organizations.
  • Increasing chances of getting recruited by top Agile organizations in the industry.
  • Better salary and increments after becoming a ScrumMaster.
  • Joining a Community of ScrumMaster and enhancing the knowledge, among others.
  • Getting a globally accredited certificate and becoming recognized worldwide
  • Being reputed and recognized in their organization as a Scrum expert.
  • Working better with peers who are well-versed with Scrum knowledge.
Skills required for becoming a ScrumMaster
  • Having excellent communication and listening skill
  • Being a professional coach
  • Having the ability to think critically and solve problems systematically.
  • Inducing creativity in the Development Team
  • Should be focused and perform with the flow
  • Should embrace the changes in the group or the organization
  • Should be motivated and also shoul
  • d encourage the Development Team
  • Asking questions and suggesting ideas
  • Being empathetic and light-hearted
Salary

The average annual salary of a certified ScrumMaster is around $90k. However, the compensation may vary based on the location, past experiences, and various other factors. The wages of the ScrumMaster increases as the person gains more knowledge and also completes the various advanced level courses such as the Advanced ScrumMaster certification course and Certified Scrum Professional- ScrumMaster.

Different certifications of a ScrumMaster

There are various certifications in a ScrumMaster role. These are:

  • Certified ScrumMaster certification: The CSM course is for individuals interested in becoming the Development Team leader and managing the Scrum Developers. They do not require any prerequisites to enroll in the course; however, having basic knowledge about Scrum would help them understand better. The course is a 2-days training program where the participants have to enroll and give an exam to get certified.
  • Advanced Certified ScrumMaster certification: This certification is done once the individual completes the CSM course and acquires one year of experience working as a Certified ScrumMaster. This course enhances the knowledge about the person’s understanding of Scrum and teaches the essential skills required to become a great ScrumMaster.
  • Certified Scrum Professional- Scrum Master: This certification is completed once the professional acquires the A-CSM course certificate and works at least 24 months as a ScrumMaster. It is one of the highest accreditation levels for a ScrumMaster and can give an excellent benefit to one’s career. Participants gain a deeper-knowledge about Scrum processes and become an expert in Scrum. After completing the CSP- SM course, the candidates establish a milestone. They can further proceed with taking up CTC, CEC, or CST certification courses and become trainers that provide valuable scrum knowledge to the budding professionals. 

Product Owner

A Product Owner is a professional who gives the vision for the product. They provide a clear picture of the product before it is developed and help the Development Team create it. They are the primary person responsible for delivering the product to the customers. The Product Owners have to be bold and confident as they represent the company to the customers. They should also actively communicate with the Development Team and convey the processes or the customers’ features. Product Owners also are solely responsible for maintaining the Product Backlog and also take part in many Scrum Events such as Sprint Planning, Product Backlog Refinement, and Sprint Reviews.

Product Owners are professionals who are concerned more about the business side of the products. They have to know how the current market trends and accordingly have to design the product such that the work developed by the team earns the maximum revenue. They have to ensure that the business value is maximized and ensure that the customer is a central part of product manufacturing. Product Owners have to keep the customer satisfied as it is one of the main goals of Agile Methodology. 

Benefits of Becoming A Certified Scrum Product Owner
  • Better salary and higher increments
  • Job opportunities in top reputed companies that use the Scrum Framework.
  • Understand in-depth about the business side of the products.
  • Network with professionals globally and interact with Scrum experts worldwide to increase the knowledge horizon.
  • Get globally acclaimed certification and be a recognized expert in the field of Scrum Framework.
  • A Product Owner is a reputed member of the organization and is respected by most of their peers.
Skills required for becoming a Product Owner
  • Should be an efficient and compelling Storyteller.
  • Can delegate and distribute the work properly to get most of the things done in a lesser amount of time.
  • Should consider themselves as a part of the Development Team and help the section understand the product goals.
  • Have to be a knowledge broker where the Product Owners ensure that they meet the right expert to clear any impediments they face during the product development.
  • Should be an excellent conflict resolver
  • Can be able to effectively escalate any matter quickly before it becomes a crisis.
Salary

The average annual salary of a Product Owner is around $85k. However, the salary depends on various factors such as location, years of experience, etc. A senior Product Owner can earn up to an average of $94k, which also depends on the years of the experience, the number of certification courses completed by the individual, and the type of company they are working for.

Different certifications of a Scrum Product Owner

Becoming a Product Owner should be considered as a journey that has various steps. The different certifications that involved in a Product Owner journey are:

  • Certified Scrum Product Owner certification: Any individual interested in the roles and responsibilities and the job description of the Product Owner can become an accredited Product Owner by taking the CSPO certification course. The course gives a basic knowledge about the Scrum principles and educates the participants about the numerous roles of a Product Owner. This certification can be considered as a first step towards becoming a great Product Owner.
  • Advanced Certified Scrum Product Owner: The candidate can take up the A-CSPO course after completing the CSPO certification and attaining 12 months of experience working as a Product Owner after its completion. The A-CSPO course gives a more in-depth knowledge about the Scrum practices and educates individuals about the skills required to become a reputed Product Owner.
  • Certified Scrum Professional-Product Owner: The CSP-PO certification is a higher accreditation level for Product Owners, which gives a great understanding of the Product Owner’s roles. The individual should complete the A-CSPO course and have work experience of at least 24 months after completing the A-CSPO course. After completing the CSP- PO course, the candidates establish a milestone. They can further proceed with taking up CTC, CEC, or CST certification courses and become trainers that provide valuable scrum knowledge to the budding professionals. 
Conclusion

Scrum Masters and Product Owners are an integral part of any Scrum team who manages the smooth functioning of the development and the delivery processes. Both the professionals work efficiently such that the product development process of the Development Team is hassle-free, and work is done in a structured and efficient way. If an individual is interested in leading a team and managing people by motivating them and have excellent communication skills, the ScrumMaster is an excellent option to enhance their careers. Whereas, if the person is more interested in the business side of the products and follows the market’s ups and downs, and can communicate excellently by expressing their ideas to everyone, a career as a Product Owner may suit them well. Starting as a Product Owner or a ScrumMaster can be a tedious task; however, a person has to always explore their options and not limit their vision to a specific domain. Getting a work experience of both the careers and researching the job roles and responsibilities and choosing from it can be a great option to understand one’s interest.

References

https://blog.firebrand.training/2015/02/scrum-master-certification-10-great-benefits.html
https://blog.hubspot.com/service/scrum-master-product-owner
https://www.scrumalliance.org/agile-resources/7-skills-you-need-to-be-a-great-product-owner

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