Part #9 The role of the Product Manager in Scrum

Scrum has three key roles:
#1 The team – who owns the sprint backlog and are responsible for estimating. functionality and fulfilling the commitment made at sprint planning meetings.

#2 The Product owner – who owns the product backlog and decides on product functionality.
#3 The scrum-master who owns the impediment log and is responsible for removing any blockages that hinder the team from performing and fulfilling their commitments.

So what's the role of the Product Manager in scrum?

Alyssa S. Dver writes in her book: Software product management essentials that: “The job title of Product Manager is vague…. Sometimes the Product Manager is the business owner. Some companies view Product Managers as the liaison between Sales and Engineering, helping to define and refine product requirements and specifications.” Other companies use Product Managers as the scrum-master in addition to being a liaison between the business stakeholders and technical stakeholders.
The software and publishing companies have different stakeholders who are responsible for profit and loss (P/L), user experience etc… If this is the case then the product owner (who sits on the business side of the fence and is responsible for the P/L and/or the user experience) should be the person in charge of defining the product and the Product Manager can facilitate the discussions and decision between the team (technical stakeholders) and the product owners (business stakeholders).

I tend to view the different roles in scrum as an allegory to help me consolidate the lines of demarcation:
#1 The team is the Rock band – people pay to attend concerts to see and listen to the rock band.
#2 The product owner(s) are the fans – who pay to attend concerts, pay for the music and therefore ultimately determine what music is popular and what music the band plays.
#3 The scrum-master is the bouncer cum manager – they protect the band from over enthusiastic fans, make sure that no harm comes to them – book the gigs and makes sure that the band turns up on time.

So if your a Product Manager in a company who is about to implement scrum you need to ask yourself if what you do ultimately determines what music gets played or do you make sure the musicians play the right music. The answer to this question will determine if your the product owner or scrum-master or even perhaps proxy product owner.
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