The PO and SM: A Match Made in Agile

Every year as the middle of February approaches, our world is taken over by little red hearts, cherubic cupids hoisting arrows and foil wrapped drugstore chocolates. The heavily scented fragrance of Valentine’s Day is in the air. With the holiday right around the corner, for us at 3Back, our thoughts turn to partnerships that stand the test of time; a Scrummy yin and yang where complementary forces interact to create something great. We think we found it.

The Perfect Pair

agile relationship PO and SMIn Scrum, there’s no better example of companion roles than that of the Product Owner[1] and ScrumMaster[2]. While these two roles are technically independent of one another, if one is not fully pulling their weight in the relationship, the other suffers. And so does the Team.

Great PO’s and SM’s each exhibit a specialized skill set that reflects their responsibilities. The PO focuses on the success of the Product. The SM focuses on the success of the Process. Great “SM/PO couples” speak the same language, understanding what to expect from each other and put in the effort to do their part.

It’s a Two-Way Street

Agile Relationship Two-Way Street PO and SMWhat should the PO expect from the SM to cultivate their healthy relationship? The SM provides that critical facilitative piece of the Agile pie. As the Team’s advocate, the SM does whatever is needed to build a collaborative environment, remove impediments and encourage the Team to manage their work successfully. The SM provides support to the PO so that he or she can focus on what demands their attention, namely ensuring that the right product is made for the right customer at the right time.

On the other side of the coin, what should the SM expect from the PO? As the bridge to the outside world of Stakeholders[3] and Business Owners[4], the PO clearly communicates the big picture Product Vision[5] and business goals to the Team. With an eye on the Product Backlog[6], the PO provides prioritization and direction so that all that good Team collaboration nurtured by the SM can be put into action developing the product.

Magnify Glass Agile RelationshipFinding Your Scrum Mate

Like any relationship, maintaining a healthy and strong partnership between the PO and SM is hard work. But we can help with those five little words, we’ve got training for that.

As Always, Stay Agile.

Notes and Sources

1-5 “Product Owner,” “ScrumMaster.” “Stakeholder,” “Business Owner,” “Product Vision.” Accessed February 1, 2018.