Product Owner and Scrum Master

Agile Scrum is being in practice with many software development teams as well as teams in non-software development. How the Agile Scrum is implemented is dependent on each organization and how they adapt the Scrum principles. However, getting certification from a Certified Scrum Trainer will guide the teams in the Scrum principles and roles.

Often, we come across Scrum teams where the Scrum Master is writing user stories or the Product Owner is conducting the Scrum events. In some teams, Product Owner is also part of the development team. This may be customized according to the organization. But, certified professionals can clearly see the improper implementation of Scrum. Scrum teams are cross-functional and self-organizing. The three important roles in the Scrum teams are the Development team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master. Each has their own responsibilities.

Product Owner

In Agile Scrum teams, Product Owner becomes the business representative for the Scrum teams. Here are the responsibilities of a Product Owner:

  • Always available for the team, knowledgeable in technical and business domain, and is agile
  • Communicates the product vision and product roadmap
  • Manages the product backlog
  • Writes user stories and acceptance criteria/tests
  • Prioritize the product backlog and sprint backlog
  • Responsible for backlog grooming
  • Determines the sprint duration and estimating the user stories
  • Communicates with the business team and the development team
  • Works closely with the business to know actually what they want from the product
  • Quickly adapts to the change requests from the business
  • Partners with the Scrum Master for the overall performance of the Scrum team
  • Works only for one Scrum team
  • Attends daily scrum (optional)
  • Does not speak until spoken to 🙂
  • Lets the development team figure out how they are going to develop the product
  • Responsible for the business outcomes
  • Prepare the release plan
  • Maintains continuous feedback from the business
  • Seeks questions and answers from internal and external stakeholders
  • Uses tools to maintain the backlog, calculate sprint velocity, and maintain burndown charts

Scrum Master

Scrum Master is responsible for removing any impediments to the development team and oversees end-to-end implementation of the Scrum principles and events.

  • Monitor the Sprint events and gatherings including Sprint planning, Sprint review, Sprint retrospective, and daily scrum meetings
  • Facilitates the Scrum by being a mentor and coach
  • May monitor one or more Scrum teams
  • Approaches business to remove impediments
  • Partners with the Product Owner for Scrum implementation

Development team

  • Decides how to develop the product increment
  • Picks the user stories for the Sprint
  • Participate in all the Scrum events
  • Perform code reviews
  • Performs many functions and self-organizes to meet the Sprint goals
  • Complete the user stories vertically so the customer can start using the increment
  • Ensure the committed user stories for the Sprint are complete in all aspects
  • Works for only one Scrum team even if reporting to Project Manager from another team
  • Cannot take up any work from outside the team
  • Being agile to implement changes in future sprints
  • Looks out for each other for the success of the Scrum team
  • Complete all stages of development including testing
  • Communicate with Scrum Master and Product Owner

Self-organizing and cross-functional Scrum teams are the latest way of getting things done efficiently. Collaboration and communication are key to the success. Managing complex projects can be simplified using the Scrum principles and events. Lots of discussion and consensus is required before actually starting the work so the teams can deliver what the customer actually wants.

The Scrum has changed in 2018 and here is the 2017 Scrum guide for your reference. Getting the Scrum certification from a Certified Trainer will help the Scrum teams to know what they are doing right and what is the ideal way Scrum teams are supposed to work.



Taxes are Approaching Faster Than You Think

As the magic of holidays fades away, the new year also brings tax time for all of us. The new GOP tax bill drastically adds/removes incentives that could affect your paycheck and taxes. Homeowners are rushing to pre-pay the property taxes, Businesses are announcing bonuses for their employees, Tax agents are figuring out how the tax rules can be implemented, and others are waiting to file the taxes on the postcard!

The yearend also brings the burden of filing taxes. Procuring the 1099s, W2s, and documents consume individuals and make you wonder where did all the money go. 🙂 TurboTax has user-friendly self-guiding software which can show your taxes based on the information you provide. If you approach a local tax agent such as H&R Block, they can guide you through the filing. The agents enter your details into their tax software and complete the filing.

If you are itemizing you will be required to carry all proofs during filing. If there is an audit from the IRS, you have to re-submit your proofs. Wait until the end of January or February until you receive all the 1099s and W2s from the agencies. Tax agents and taxpayers are eagerly waiting for how the new GOP tax bill will change the taxes. Here are some general points to consider:

  1. Increased standard deduction:
    1. For married couples: Increase from $13, 000 to $24, 000.
    2. For individuals: Increase from $6500 to $12, 000.
    3. For single parents: Increase is from $9550 to $18, 000.
  2. Property tax exemption limited to $10, 000: This is a huge blow to high property tax states such as Illinois and New Jersey.
    • I wonder why Scott County residents rushed to pre-pay the property taxes. They only pay $3600! Rock Island County does not accept pre-payment until the tax bill arrives in May. Illinois is already leading in people moving out and it may increase further in future. 🙂
  3. Taxes can be filed on a postcard: This will simplify the documentation required. However, the cost of the postcard is not revealed yet. 🙂
  4. Change in Payment: Payroll software providers are adjusting the tax withholding to accommodate the tax changes
  5. Child tax credit increased from $1000 to $2000 for the people with incomes up to 200, 000 (single parents) and $400, 000 (Married filing jointly). However, the child is required to have a valid SSN.
  6. Change in tax slabs: Corporate tax rate is flat 21 percent. Pass-through business owners or small business owners can deduct 20 percent of the income. Large businesses announced bonuses and higher contributions to charity due to the tax savings they get from the GOP tax reform. The different slabs for low-income, middle-income, and high-income have been set up.

IRS will not accept taxes until the end of January and if you are expecting a refund, you will not be seeing them until the end of February. The last day to file taxes is April 17 without penalty. The new GOP tax reform is from 2018 to 2025 and some are skeptical that after 2025, all the tax savings will be lost. For low-income earners, the taxes might reduce first but increase after 2025. Everyone is trying to understand how it will change and any hint of fewer taxes gives a huge relief for taxpayers. 🙂

Happy New Year 2018!


Low-income tax rates










Middle-income tax rates











High-income tax rates