Agile · Communication · Definitions · Scrum

Notes on Scrum Alliance Product Owner Training

I spent two days this week getting certified as a scrum product owner through Scrum Alliance (find out more about all this here if you’re interested:

The company where I work in software development and sales has been using the Agile methodology with Scrum for almost nine years (they were just starting this at the same time that I began working here) but we have only recently been getting training and education from other parts of the industry.  Many people (including me) have received training from Pragmatic Marketing (check them out here: and we are now looking at other training organizations as well.  I love learning from new people and am always glad for the chance to discover new things that will help me improve personally and professionally, so spending two days with a small group of people equally interested in learning was a real treat.  There are a number of things I expect to write and think about in the coming weeks that came from this training time, but today I wanted to share my first impressions of how these two organizations seem to approach a topic at the heart of this blog: What is a Product Owner?

This is a bit simplified I expect (and I trust that one of you helpful readers will gladly point out the shortcomings of this analysis in the comments), but essentially what I took away from the training was this: what Pragmatic Marketing calls a “Product Manager” Scrum Alliance calls a “Product Owner” and what Pragmatic calls a “Product Owner” Scrum Alliance calls a “Scrum Master” (see the pictures below).

2015-01-09 13_32_48-CSPO Training                            2015-01-09 13_34_36-CSPO Training

The overlap is more complete on what a Product Manager does in Pragmatic Marketing’s model and what a Product Owner does in the Scrum Alliance approach.  Both are responsible for product vision, communicating with internal and external stakeholders, and ensuring that what is built will be profitable for the company and valuable for clients.  The overlap is less complete when comparing what Pragmatic expects from a Product Owner with what Scrum Alliance expects of a Scrum Master.  Part of this comes from the fact that Pragmatic is a bit more flexible on what a Product Owner might do and how she would divide up duties with the Product Manager.  Scrum Alliance has very specific expectations of a Scrum Master – including coaching the development team on what scrum practices require – while Pragmatic Marketing does not assume the development team will necessarily be engaged in a rigorous practice of Scrum as it designs and builds the product.

There was a lot to enjoy in the two days of training and plenty to think about afterward.  If you’re reading this and have been through Scrum Alliance Product Owner or Scrum Master training I would welcome the chance to talk about these issues.  As always, please post comments here or connect with me on Twitter @asbiv to talk about any of this stuff.  Check out my cool new certification below.  It would be great if I could say that now I really know how to do this whole scrum thing but of course in truth it’s not that simple.



4 thoughts on “Notes on Scrum Alliance Product Owner Training

  1. I think the term Product Manager is not the same as the term Product Owner in Scrum. A Product Manager in sales mostly deals with managing the product he is selling but the Product Owner is the one who is highly involved with the development team during development process.

    1. Good point, though a lot depends on how the roles are defined. The product owner in the Scrum Alliance model might not be part of the daily scrum team unless invited by the team.

      1. You are right. That is why the founder of Scrum used the term Product Owner instead of Product Manager because the term Product Manager already exists in sales before Scrum came into existence.

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