scrum master vs project manager

Scrum Master Vs. Project Manager: Differences & Similarities

No matter what kind of project you are going to get done, a project manager or the PM is the power player you want in your team. Another name that will come up while deciding on your project’s methodology and management roles is the Scrum Master or the SM.

This post will discuss the differences between a Scrum Master and a project manager and help you decide which one you would need on your road to a successful software or app development journey.

Who is a Scrum Master?

Previously in our Agile in Details: Scrum and Kanban, we dove through details about Scrum and Kanban methodologies. Let us summarize the principles of Scrum:

  1. Scrum is an incremental and iterative production process
  2. The Scrum team is relatively small
  3. The team members need to have enough creativity to come up with unknown solutions
  4. This methodology is primarily focused on the active part of the project
  5. There are three leading roles: The Scrum Master, the Scrum team, and the project owner
  6. The Scrum Master is NOT the project manager
  7. The Scrum team is a self-led team of individuals
  8. A product owner is the representative of the customer and business side
  9. Production cycles get divided into two week long Sprints

For Scrum training courses visit Scrum.org.

With all of these principles, let’s answer the first question that comes to mind: 

Who is a Scrum Master?

Primarily speaking, the SM is responsible for the management and implementation of the Scrum framework. The Scrum Master is accountable for helping the team members interact and collaborate and maximize the delivered value.

What Is the Role of a Scrum Master?

The SM is responsible toward both the product owner and development team:

Responsibilities Towards Development TeamResponsibilities Towards Product Owner
Coaching and monitorization of the team and making sure they follow Scrum rulesCommunicating the product owner’s needs to the development team
Maintaining the team’s dynamicMaking sure that the product owner understands how to handle product backlog
Helping the team in high-value productionProduct backlog efficiency and technique division
Aiding the new member to adapt to the Agile environment and Scrum frameworkMaximization of product values
Removing roadblocks and obstacles and facilitating the team improvementHelping with Scrum events

With the help of the Scrum Master, the Scrum team works more effortless and more efficiently. Also, the SM provides coaching where it is needed to follow Scrum principles and framework.

What a Scrum Master Does not Do:

In general, in a Scrum team, the Scrum Master is not responsible for managing the development team. The Scrum development team is self-organized. And the SM is responsible for building up the development team’s ability to resolve the obstacles independently. The development team in the Scrum methodology should learn from their mistakes and make their own decisions.

According to what we mentioned above, the Scrum Master is mainly responsible for maximizing product value and implantation of Scrum principles.

The Similarities Between the Scrum Master and the Project Manager:

  1. The project manager and the Scrum Master are both responsible for coaching the organization and the team. They both aid the efficiency and effectiveness of the group.
  2. Both the SM and the PM are not accountable for the success of the project. If the Scrum methodology is used, the project owner is responsible, and the responsibility lies on the project board or the project executive in a project setting.
  3. Suppose a project faces any impediment or blockage and both the SM and the PM help with problem resolution. However, the project managers try to resolve the barriers themselves, and the SM preferably coaches the organization and the team to fix the problems.

The Differences Between the Scrum Master and the Project Manager:

  1. In a project setting, all the documentation, such as project brief, project budget, the risk log, project plan, etc., lies with the project manager. The Scrum Master is not responsible for creating, managing, or updating any documentation.
  2. The person responsible for dividing the project scope both toward the stakeholders and the team members is the project manager. In other words, the PM has requirements and content-related responsibility. However, the Scrum Master does not have any content, qualifications, or product involvement. The SM is not responsible for managing project scopes, resources, and requirements.
  3. The role of the Scrum Master is focused. They are responsible for making the organization more agile and helping with the Scrum framework understanding. On the contrary, a project manager has a broad position with different responsibilities. For that reason, there might not be clear borders between the duties. They need to be able to write business cases, coach, and motivate the team simultaneously.

Characteristics and Skills of a Project Manager vs. a Scrum Master

Both the Scrum Master and the project manager need to have unique characteristics and skills. In the following table, we list some of the top skills:

Scrum MasterProject Manager
. Expert in agile: A SM should be an expert in an agile framework, methods, and practices. Time management skill: PMs are responsible for on-time project delivery.
. Team coaching: SMs should change the mindset and behavior of the team and the stakeholders with their coaching.. Negotiation skill: To keep the project on track and to solve the roadblocks, a PM should have good skills as a negotiator.
. Adviser and consultant: A SM gives advice and consultation to the team and supports agile governance and agile contracting.. Risk management: The ability to identify, manage, and address risks is a necessity for PMs.
. To be a servant-leader: The SM leads by example. To make changes happen, the SM leads the way by showing the necessary samples.. Leadership: The ability to lead the team to successful complementation of a project requires motivation and meditation within the group.
Scrum Master

Who Should You Go With: A Scrum Master or a Project Manager?

According to what we said above, the Scrum Master and the project manager share many characteristics.

They both connect product owners and development teams. But According to the project scale, requirements, and resources, the road can differ. Therefore, based on the way you estimated your project and considering your option, you can choose a SM or a PM.

But if you decide on a Scrum framework, assign a SM to help you maximize the production. In this situation, most likely, the software development has many moving parts and with a good SM, make sure the deadlines are met with cultural accountability.

In a project setting, you need a project manager to play the decisive role of the planner, organizer, and problem solver.

WINaTALENT helps you design a road map to successful development and even assigns a dedicated project manager to your project if you see a need for one.

Become our client, and we find you the unique management strategy and methodology.

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