The Scrum Guide says the following:

The Product Owner is also accountable for effective Product Backlog management, which includes:
- Developing and explicitly communicating the Product Goal;
- Creating and clearly communicating Product Backlog items;
- Ordering Product Backlog items; and,
- Ensuring that the Product Backlog is transparent, visible and understood.

The Product Owner may do the above work or may delegate the responsibility to others. Regardless, the Product Owner remains accountable.

What does this "to others" mean? That the Product Owner can delegate the responsibility to the Scrum Master?

3 Answers 3


This isn't a new addition to the Scrum Guide. The 2017 Scrum Guide says this:

The Product Owner is the sole person responsible for managing the Product Backlog. Product Backlog management includes:

  • Clearly expressing Product Backlog items;
  • Ordering the items in the Product Backlog to best achieve goals and missions;
  • Optimizing the value of the work the Development Team performs;
  • Ensuring that the Product Backlog is visible, transparent, and clear to all, and shows what the Scrum Team will work on next; and,
  • Ensuring the Development Team understands items in the Product Backlog to the level needed.

The Product Owner may do the above work, or have the Development Team do it. However, the Product Owner remains accountable.

The only difference is that the 2017 says that the Product Owner may "have the Development Team do it", instead of the "may delegate the responsibility to others" of the 2020 revision. I do think that if the Product Owner were to ask someone else to do the work, it would be the Developers more than the Scrum Master.


"Can" and "should" are different things.

I'm curious why you immediately jumped to "others" meaning "the Scrum Master". More commonly, the Product Owner delegates to others who do not have other responsibilities within the Team.

As has already been covered in another Question here, the Scrum Master and the Product Owner should not be the same person as their roles have different goals. So while the Product Owner can delegate, I would be leery about that delegation being specifically to the Scrum Master.


Here is what I consider to be a good, but informal, definition of the two roles:

  • The Product Owner represents the business [stakeholders]. The people who are signing the checks, and the business people who will use and benefit from the product. The PO role faces outward.

  • The Scrum Master represents the team, its daily activities and internal organization. Therefore, the SM role faces inward.


In many ways, the two roles thus are proxies. And it is very important to the success of the whole arrangement that both of them are. Each one becomes "a single point of contact" representing a larger group of interested people.

The two roles work very closely together. "Between the two of them, they become Janus – the two-headed god," which faces both directions at once. Each one focuses specifically and separately on the very things that the other role is most likely to overlook.

• "Human Resources style management" is probably – but, not necessarily – external to all of them.

All of these views represent my colloquial but experienced functional opinions, not anyone's Guide.

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