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"Product Owner & Scrum Master" executing digital software development project.

Last post 02:26 pm July 30, 2023 by Nicholas Gabrichidze
6 replies
05:59 pm July 21, 2023

I am writing to all of the members of this Forum, so I may learn from you if you can provide me with your point of view/insight on this situation. 


# Brift detail about me:

I am an IT Professional, with 10+ years of experience in project management. I moved from Waterfall to Agile and after performing 8 years in Agile, I like it much more than Waterfall, in many aspects.


# Situation:

I finished a work contract two months ago and am actively searching for a Scrum Master job proposal to work remotely from Argentina to the USA market. I have received three job proposals where I must take the Scrum Master and Product Owner role in one.

That is:

  • to write the epics and User Stories (all PBI).
  • Product Backlog accountable and responsible.
  • Manage the Development Team.
  • Strong and direct relationship with the Stakeholders, 
  • Develop the Product Roadmap,
  • Carry out the Scrum ceremonies with more than 3 development teams (implementing SAFe). 
  • Facilitate the cross-functional team works out of roadblocks. 
  • Certification of Product Owner and SAFe. 

In addition to my previous point, a comment made to me by an HHRR person from a US talent search company emailed me --> "It could be that in the current market, and applying Agile methodologies (Scrum), there is a slight trend in which Product Owners also not only carry out their activity of managing and creating products but also managing work teams. , also performing the role of Scrum Master."

# Questions I bring to this Forum (I would like your opinions/experiences): 

1) Is the international market, mainly the USA, changing the roles within Scrum?

A limited portion of companies seems to go against what the Scrum framework defines (conflict of interest).

Could it be that the market is changing and Scrum Masters will have to develop both roles?

2) Will this trend cause the Scrum Framework paradigm to be updated? 

I have experienced many times that Management on the one hand says that they want to implement Agile, but they still do not release Waterfall, but this new scheme breaks the paradigm.

Thank you very much for your comments and for the time you've taken to read it all. 


01:09 pm July 24, 2023

It is hard to talk about the trends and do generalizations without a comprehensive study of the market. From my limited perspective, it looks like the Scrum Master role hasn't been well understood which caused the tendency to mix it with different roles  

12:38 pm July 27, 2023

Jacek, I appreciate your feedback and the time to read my forum comment.

 would agree if the Scrum Master takes the role of Developer, providing priorities to the Scrum Master role activities. I would say that might happen the same parallelism (never saw it) with the Product Owner. 

However, a Product Owner taking the role of Scrum Master under the same hat does not follow Scrum Framework accountabilities definitions. There is a clear conflict of interest issue.

Kind regards. 

11:56 am July 28, 2023

I can imagine PO taking also the role of SM. It's not ideal but I would not say there is a conflict of interest. The whole Scrum Team is shooting for the same target. There are different accountabilities but the Golas are the same.

Let's say someone is an experienced SM and decides to build his own product :) As far as he has time for it he would not bother hiring SM or PO for the sake of separating the roles.

It is important to be clear about the accountabilities though. I saw many examples of SM accountable for things out of SM's scope and not having time to do the proper SM job. 

01:12 pm July 28, 2023

Where I am pointing, as I commented in my initial message, is that there is a "conflict of interest" because for example:

  • A PO from SM at the same time, could approve an increase, to be able to deliver it on a date, without correctly complying with the DoD. At this point, the SM is the one who would have to guarantee that this does not happen.
  • In the Daily, the PO would surely be at the ceremonies. (I'm assuming how the situation comes) But the Daily is for Developers and here would be another break in the Framework.
  • If the PO doesn't do his job correctly, I don't think developers will confront him and tell him that he's doing his job better. The developers are going to lower their heads and continue working because the PO is the one who hired them.
  • In the Retrospective ceremonies, Who is going to speak out against what the PO might be doing wrong?
  • I don't know if an environment of "transparency" would be achieved.
  • I don't know if the quality controls of the testing team would be achieved correctly.

NEXUS comment: I don't want to get involved in using NEXUS or from 3 to 9 simultaneous work teams. This would be more complex.

As I said in my initial comment in this forum, I showed you what people from HHRR from a company in the USA told me: --> "It could be that in the current market, and applying Agile methodologies (Scrum), there is a slight trend in which Product Owners also not only carry out their activity of managing and creating products but also managing work teams, also performing the role of Scrum Master."

I agree with your example, but let's keep in mind that if an SM wants to develop a product that he/she has in his/her head, this SM could easily play the role of PO because he wants to develop the product. However, at the same time, this role might not understand:

  • Marketing or selling channels of the product. Understand the market's needs. IS the product gonna be consumed by the market? 
  • Does this SM have User Experience knowledge? Might need a UI/UX but User feedback are always useful.
  • Split the product vision in User Stories by Components or Flows of functionalities, etc.

In other words, Is it the market tends to break this structure by implementing two accountabilities in one role? 

I have worked in some companies that say they implement Agile methodologies with Scrum framework, but once you are working with them you realize what they do is something completely different than Scrum. 

To conclude, I have seen some changes in the way Scrum Framework is been implementing and was wondering whether this is an intentional change or something companies do not know about the positive/negative impact of these decisions. Just as the PMBoK (PMI) was developed, the Scrum Framework was developed, where for many years, groups of people improve the rules, roles, and work artifacts of a discipline such as IT, to generate a framework to follow. In general terms, these methodologies are developed according to the experiences of the companies, so there could be a possibility that the adaptation of Scrum in the companies is not as expected and it is here where the changes of improvements by the companies arise, to adapt the existing

02:33 pm July 28, 2023

... and was wondering whether this is an intentional change or something companies do not know about the positive/negative impact of these decisions.

Yes to both.  It is intentional on the part of the organization that is making that change or it wouldn't have been made.  It is also something that companies who do not fully understand Scrum do in order for themselves to say that they are using Scrum.  Remember that the Scrum Guide does not provide job titles or job descriptions.  It provides 3 sets of accountabilities.  So the job title of the individual being accountable is irrelevant per the Scrum Guide. 

Many organizations use the title of Scrum Master to describe a project manager.  They use terminology from the Scrum Guide but they do not use the values and principles.  When you are looking for a job, look at the duties, responsibilities and skills listed to decide if you want the job.  Don't blindly assume that a person with a job title at Organization A will do the same things as someone with that same job title at Organization B. Also, don't assume that when you see Scrum terminology in the job description that the organization actually understands what it is meant to relate. 

02:26 pm July 30, 2023

It is regular situation when company wants to transfer to Scrum, does not yet know how to do it, and, unsurprisingly makes steps in both in wrong and right  directions...

Judging by the terminology you use, the information about Scrum came from some source which is other then a Scrum guide. 

Most likely from PMBOK and SBOK which, unfortunately became biggest source of disinformation about Scrum. 

Anyway I am sure you will succesfully learn and adapt within time.

One important advise is to avoid mixing Scrum master and Product owner roles.

If company has no budget to hire Scrum master, it might be good idea to ask developers to elect one- there is no objection for Scrum master to be a developer as well. 

As for other aspects if you will add non functional requirements of learning Scrum in a backlog, and make sure both stakeholders and developers commit to learning and coaching, soon your team might fly.


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