Magdalena Jackiewicz
Editorial Expert
Magdalena Jackiewicz
Reviewed by a tech expert
Marcel Nowakowski
Scrum Master / Agile Project Coordinator

When is Product Owner’s input required in Agile Scrum project management?

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Product Owners (POs) play a critical role in Agile project management methodologies, including Scrum. They have a number of responsibilities that directly contribute to the overall success of the product development process. These responsibilities can be divided into three main categories:

  • prioritizing the product backlog, so that it reflects all the product requirements, as specified by stakeholders,
  • translating the product vision into concrete development tasks, in cooperation with Product Manager or Scrum Master,
  • staying up-to-date with market and user requirements, so that the product is on par with the needs and preferences of the chosen target group.

The Product Owner thus remains busy with constantly liaising with the stakeholders and the development team. The Scrum ceremonies are an important mechanism in this ongoing process. When and what kind of inputs are thus required from the PO with regards to those ceremonies? Let’s take a closer look at the scope of the PO’s role in Scrum as well as the key events to find out.

What is the scope of the Product Owner’s role in Scrum?

The scope of Product Owner’s role and responsibilities can vary greatly depending on:

  • the size of the organization: in case of large structures, Product Owner responsibilities can be divided between several individuals,
  • the size of the development team (or sub-teams) involved in a specific project,
  • the number of non-technical people involved in it.

Having said that, we can certainly say that Product Owner responsibilities in Agile include the following:

Vision and strategy alignment

While the overall vision of the product and its strategy would be set by the management board, it’s the Product Owner’s job to ensure that this vision becomes reality. They are responsible for communicating that vision to the development team and prioritizing workloads in a way that fulfills the goals and is fully aligned with project objectives.

This means that, on the one hand, they will be working closely with stakeholders to understand their expectations, needs and long term goals, and the development team on the other, by ensuring that feature owners fully understand that vision and their work meets those requirements and objectives.

Product backlog management

As the key decision maker in the product development process, the PO is responsible for managing the product backlog (as well as the technical debt backlog), which involves prioritizing all the features, enhancements, and fixes, in accordance with stakeholder requirements.

In a Scrum environment, this involves translating the requirements into user stories and constantly refining the backlog. They will be doing so by collaborating with all parties involved, taking into account their needs, as well as customer feedback, market trends and business priorities they may have evolved as the project unfolds.


Prioritization is indeed a big chunk of the Product Owner's role in Scrum. They will be making decisions as to what the development team should work next. These will be informed decisions that take into consideration factors like customer value, technical feasibility and other dependencies that will determine what are the next best steps.

This is what makes the POs role critical when it comes to delivering maximum value and most important features at every stage of the product development process.

Requirement clarification

The Product Owner is the primary point of contact for the development team when it comes to clarifying requirements: it’s their job to ensure they are crystal clear. While the development team decides on how to build a given feature, it’s the PO’s job to make sure they build what needs to be done and what requirements must be met throughout the process. Minimizing ambiguity is a critical part of this process.

To this end, the PO will discuss the requirement with stakeholders and gather actionable information on user stories. Here is where excellent communication skills must be put to use to deliver a successful product in a smooth way.

Stakeholder management

There will be different stakeholder groups involved in any product development journey. For instance, the marketing department will have their own requirements, which will be different from those of sales, HR and the management board. The Product Owner will have to manage all of these expectations by:

  • ensuring they are met when the time is right (some features or modifications will have to be implemented ahead of others),
  • ensuring stakeholders understand those timelines,
  • ensuring they understand any obstacles (include technical ones) or aspects that prevent certain features from being implemented, should that be the case.

The Scrum Product Owner responsibilities include regular communication with the development team and all stakeholders to gather feedback and manage expectations accordingly. They need to be able to build strong relationships and to align expectations with capabilities.

Acceptance of work

Since Product Owner responsibilities in Agile include clarifying the project requirements and communicating those to the team, they are also the best person to check whether these requirements have been met. Product Owners will verify whether the set deliverable meets the agreed-upon standards, before accepting it as part of the product increment.

Acceptance of work depends on the alignment with customer expectations. For the PO, this is a step that is necessary to ensure not only that the work has been completed, but also that it has been delivered up to the required quality standard.

By ensuring the quality and completeness of work, the PO maintains integrity of the product and its alignment with customer expectations.

Participation in scrum ceremonies

The Product Owner actively participates in various Scrum ceremonies such as sprint planning, daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives. They collaborate with the development team to plan and prioritize work for each sprint, provide updates on progress, gather feedback, and continuously improve the product development process. The PO's presence in these ceremonies fosters transparency, alignment, and effective teamwork.

Collaboration with the development team

The Product Owner works closely with the development team throughout the entire Agile development cycle. They collaborate on a daily basis to answer questions, provide clarifications, and ensure that the team has the necessary information and resources to deliver high-quality work. The PO enables the development team to perform at their best by fostering this collaborative and supportive environment.

If the team has questions and the PO cannot answer those themselves, they would know where to seek answers (and it’s their job to get them).

When and what inputs are required from a Product Owner?

We’ve mentioned that the POs participation in Scrum ceremonies is an important part of their role in Agile methodologies. This is when they will clarify requirements and coordinate their work to turn the product vision into reality.

Since different Scrum ceremonies play instrumental yet different roles in the overall development process, we think it’s critical to clarify these responsibilities and expected inputs so that these roles don’t blend into one and so do that the ceremonies bring most value to both the development team and the Product Owner.

Let's explore the specific instances where PO's inputs are required and what these requirements entail.

Sprint planning meeting

This is where the team collectively decides what tasks they will work on during the upcoming sprint.

The Product Owner’s inputs required at this meeting entail:

  • clarifying the requirements on backlog items,
  • prioritizing items for implementation.

Their role in this Scrum ceremony is thus critical: these inputs are necessary for aligning the product vision and making informed decisions regarding the sprint's goals. It’s a good approach to have the PO participate in every sprint planning meeting.

If the PO cannot partake in sprint planning, they should at least examine the plan prepared by the development team and accept it or reject it, taking into account stakeholder requirements and any other relevant factors. Sometimes, it may be worth crossing two smaller tasks off the list before tackling one major task – this is where the PO will be exercising their decision-making power.

For that reason, if the PO isn’t available to join the sprint planning meeting, the team should establish a way to contact them quickly so that they could answer any questions that arise during this meeting, should the development team have any.

Backlog refinement meetings

Also known as backlog grooming, this Scrum ceremony is an opportunity to delve into the details of every backlog item and determine the tasks required to implement each item, and prioritizing them accordingly.

The Product Owner takes the lead here, by:

  • deciding on current priorities,
  • ensuring the backlog is well-prepared for future sprints.

This must be done to the extent that, in the case of PO’s absence, the team has a clear understanding of the upcoming work and knows what to delve into next. This is where the Definitions of Done (DoDs) would be put together (list of functional and nonfunctional acceptance criteria) that would guide the development team as they work on subsequent implementations.

Sprint review meeting

The sprint review meeting concentrates on evaluating the progress made during the Sprint. The team will present and discuss what it has implemented with regards to the Sprint goal.

Scrum Product Owner responsibilities in this event include:

  • inspecting the work of the sprint, and accepting it if the criteria are met,
  • adapting the product backlog, if necessary,
  • passing on stakeholder feedback on the work that has been done so far (in case the stakeholders don’t partake in the meeting themselves).

Collaboration here is key: the team inspect the completed work and assess its alignment with the product's envisioned outcome, consulting them with the Product Owner. The Product Owner actively participates in this meeting and adapts the product backlog as necessary. Additionally, they receive valuable feedback from stakeholders, enabling them to incorporate suggestions and refine the product backlog for future iterations.

In the event that the work isn’t accepted because the criteria weren’t met, the PO should also help the team understand how to improve the feature or meet any outstanding criteria during the upcoming sprint.

Daily Scrum (stand-up) meeting

Although it’s not mandatory, the Product Owner's presence at the daily Scrum meeting can be highly beneficial to the overall outcomes. We have the PO participate in our daily standup meetings in several projects and the teams involved in them greatly appreciate the POs presence. It helps them to reduce miscommunication and ambiguities.

However, it works best if the PO is involved mainly in the listening capacity: in that way, they remain informed about the project progress and potential obstacles, so that they can subsequently keep the stakeholders informed. Their presence at the daily Scrum may be required to address any concerns or issues, however, no inputs are required from them during this meeting by default.

For more information about our approach to the POs participation in the daily Scrum, head to our earlier article, where we outline the pros and cons.

Product Owner responsibilities when working with RST

It goes without saying that the pool of Product Owner responsibilities is vast and their inputs during Scrum ceremonies are critical to product development success. We deem it necessary to describe those responsibilities to keep the progress of work on track.

If a PO, or any other member of the product team starts going beyond their responsibilities and roles during Scrum ceremonies, these meetings may eventually lose their value, causing chaos that may negatively impact the quality of the project.

As a software development company present on the market for over 20 years, we offer fully-managed software development services and can cater to your specific needs. We deliver in accordance with the Scrum methodology, so we take the weight of the product development process off your shoulders. If you’d like to know more about how we can help you turn your idea into reality, drop us a message via this contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

People also ask

Product Owner vs Scrum Master: how do these roles differ?

In the Scrum framework, both the Product Owner and the Scrum Master play critical roles in ensuring the successful development and delivery of a product. However, their responsibilities and focus areas differ significantly. Let's explore the roles and responsibilities of both the Product Owner and the Scrum Master:

The Product Owner represents the voice of the customer and stakeholders. They have a deep understanding of user needs, market trends, and business goals.

Product Owner responsibilities:

  • Product backlog management: The PO creates, maintains, and prioritizes the product backlog, a dynamic list of features, enhancements, and bug fixes.
  • Requirement clarification: The PO works closely with stakeholders to gather requirements, elaborate user stories, and define acceptance criteria.
  • Prioritization: Based on customer value, business goals, and feedback, the PO ranks items in the product backlog to guide development.
  • Release planning: The PO collaborates with the development team to plan and define what will be included in each sprint or release.
  • Decision making: The PO makes critical decisions about what features to include, when to release them, and what trade-offs to make.
  • Acceptance testing: The PO validates completed work against acceptance criteria and ensures it meets the required quality standards.
  • Continuous feedback: The PO gathers feedback from stakeholders and adjusts priorities and requirements accordingly.

The Scrum Master is a servant leader and facilitator who ensures that the Scrum process is understood and followed by the team, and removes impediments.

Scrum Master responsibilities:

  • Process facilitation: The Scrum Master ensures that the Scrum ceremonies (sprint planning, daily stand-ups, sprint review, and sprint retrospective) are effectively conducted.
  • Impediment removal: The Scrum Master identifies and helps resolve any obstacles or issues that prevent the team from making progress.
  • Coaching and mentoring: The Scrum Master guides the team in adopting and improving Scrum practices, fostering self-organization, and continuous improvement.
  • Servant leadership: The Scrum Master supports the team by removing barriers and creating an environment where the team can excel.
  • Collaboration: The Scrum Master facilitates communication and collaboration between the development team and the Product Owner, as well as with stakeholders.
  • Metrics and insights: The Scrum Master tracks team metrics, such as velocity, and provides insights to the team and stakeholders.
  • Conflict resolution: The Scrum Master helps address conflicts within the team and promotes a harmonious working environment.
  • Continuous learning: The Scrum Master stays updated on agile practices, Scrum trends, and industry best practices.

Collaboration between roles:

  • The Product Owner and Scrum Master work closely together, with each bringing their unique perspectives and responsibilities to the team.
  • While the PO focuses on product vision, prioritization, and requirements, the Scrum Master ensures the team follows Scrum practices, is empowered, and can work effectively.
  • Both roles collaborate to ensure that the development team understands the product vision, is well-aligned with business goals, and can deliver value iteratively.

In summary, the Product Owner vs Scrum Master roles differ greatly: the PO is responsible for defining and prioritizing what the team should work on, while the Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating the Scrum process and enabling the team to work efficiently. Together, they contribute to the successful implementation of the Scrum framework and the delivery of valuable products.

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