Scrum Master Vs Project Manager – Differences & Responsibilities

Scrum Master vs Project Manager
September 20, 2021

Often in the IT industry, we come across terminologies; Scrum Master vs Project Manager. These terms frequently confuse people, and they think that both of them are the same and can be used interchangeably. However, it is not the truth. 

Many times, people come across these questions; what if both these roles are the same, or is there any difference? If they are the same, then why do they have different names? All these questions confuse them about both these approaches.

Some people even consider a Project Manager as Scrum Master when working in an agile environment. It is partly correct. These two roles are quite different from each other, though they tend to overlay them to an extent. Scrum Master functions on Scrum project management ethics in agile projects. On the other hand, a Project Manager works on old principles of project management.

Who is a Scrum Master?

A development team is also known as a scrum. The product owner allots a task to the scrum, which they further break into smaller chunks, known as sprints.

A sprint consists of iterative development procedures with collaboration that manage the overall lifespan of a project. As a result, the product gets developed within the pre-defined period with the help of the Scrum methodologies.

It is the responsibility of a Scrum Master to ensure that the team follows the agile principles and values and functions accordingly. Also, he makes sure that the members work as per the pre-defined practices and ideas. Thus, a Scrum Master acts as a leader to facilitate agile-oriented product development.

The Role of a Scrum Master

The role of a Scrum Master is to serve the product manager and development team. The responsibilities of the scrum master are explained as follows.

Responsibilities towards Product Owner

  • The Scrum Master helps the product manager to handle the product excess through devised techniques.
  • The product owner can communicate the product requirements to the development team through the Scrum master.
  • Efficiently helps the product owner to maximize the value and handle the backlog.
  • A Scrum Master also handles scrum events.

Responsibilities towards Development Team

  • Ensures that the team follows the scrum rules by guiding them as and when required.
  • A Scrum master also helps to eliminate blockages and barriers and enables the team’s progress.
  • They enable the team to deliver the best outputs and maintain the dynamics.
  • A Scrum master plans scrum meetings and events.
  • Coaches and guides the new members of the team to adopt the Scrum framework and rules.
  • They ensure the Scrum implementation in companies and aids people to adopt the agile environment.
  • Thus, a Scrum Master facilitates the team by all means and tries to maximize the value. Moreover, they also act as a guide to the team and help them achieve their targets.

Who is a Project Manager?

A project manager uses his project-management skills and data to lead the product development from scratch to successful completion.

However, the horizon of responsibilities of a Project Manager is far beyond project management.

A project manager manages 10 key zones; cost, quality, resource, strategies, scope, integration, communication, risk, achievements, stakeholder, industry awareness, business, and guidance. A PM should know how to implement his skills and use these areas for the project’s benefit.

The Role of a Project Manager

A Scrum Master enables the scrum team to give the best output while a Project Manager has a bigger control over the project. He not only handles teams to deliver complex project output but also enables them to achieve desired goals. A PM also participates in various project activities.

He functions in a less risk-oriented environment when compared to a Scrum Master since he uses traditional disciplined project management techniques. 

A Project Manager examines risks and prepares himself for the forthcoming challenges. Also, he has a clear understanding of the project’s scope and its requirements.

However, the role and responsibilities of a PM are not easy these days. He has to go beyond looking for just the project’s basic needs. A project manager should be able to judge whether a specific approach works for their current project or not. He should come up with well-planned strategies and methodologies for the successful accomplishment of the development. Moreover, he should be with his team at every stage of the development cycle.

Scrum Master & Project Manager- Similarities

Until now, we have clearly discussed the roles and responsibilities of both Scrum Master and a Project Manager. Therefore, we know that they are quite different and significant as well. Both of these approaches differ; however, their roles overlay. They both have certain similarities. They are as follows.

  • Both of them look after the team’s performance, and they keep on trying to enhance its efficiency.
  • A Scrum Master involves guiding the team and a Project Manager engrosses to resolve their obstacles and hassles.
  • When it comes to both approaches, it should be noted that they are not the final authorities to make the decisions regarding product requirements. It means that a Scrum Master supports a Product Owner in handling the relevant backlog. While a Project Manager pursues contribution from the client or stakeholders in this direction.
  • They are both required to have significant skills and experience in their respective fields to lead the project forward.
  • The roles of a Scrum Master and Project Manager are demanding in the IT industry.
  • They both need to focus on quality when it comes to delivering the final product.

Scrum Master Vs Project Manager – Key Differences

The roles of a Scrum Master vs Project Manager overlap. However, their differences overpower their similarities.Scrum Master Vs Project Manager – Differences & Responsibilities

  • A Scrum Master is rigidly bound by the Scrum rules and faithfully promotes the framework. While a project manager is free to customize the approach according to the product requirements and strategies.
  • A Scrum Master remarkably supports management knowledge that includes resources and quality. On the other hand, a Project Manager is required to have knowledge of all ten areas of project management.
  • A Scrum Master works with smaller teams and help them enhance their performance. On the other hand, a Project Manager works with bigger teams when it comes to managing multiple project groups.
  • A Scrum Master enables daily scrum meetings while a Project Manager handles and schedules meetings.
  • A Scrum Master guides the team in the direction of Scrum and encourages them to proceed with the development. On the other hand, a Project Manager allocates responsibilities and manages the work schedule.
  • Both these roles require different skills and certifications as well. A Scrum Master needs to have a certificate from the Scrum alliance while a Project Manager should have a Prince2 certificate or PMP.
  • They are industry-oriented roles. For example, a Scrum master always functions within IT industries while the Project Manager can handle a project in any kind of industry.

Wrap Up

From the above discussion of roles, responsibilities, similarities, and differences, it is clear that a Project Manager’s role is more of a leader while a Scrum Master acts as a trainer and guides the Scrum team towards agile development through the Scrum framework.

The emergence of the PMBOK 6th guide has expanded the role of a Project Manager. It means that it is not limited to the only waterfall as earlier. They also have to implement reiterative models according to the requirements and demands of the project.

Finally, both these roles have their respective sets of responsibilities and approaches.

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