Project Manager vs. Scrum Master: Key Differences & Similarities
Concise Software | Sep 05, 2019
Who is a project manager?
A project manager is a person in charge of the project timeline, scope, and resources. Their central responsibility is making sure that all these elements meet specified business requirements.
Here are some typical responsibilities of project managers:
Defining the project scope and communicating it to the team
Preparing the schedule for team members
Defining resource requirements for the project
Gathering project requirements
Preparing the project budget
Monitoring the work
Managing relationships with clients and stakeholders
Ending the project
Who is a Scrum Master?
A Scrum Master is part of the Scrum Team, as defined by the agile methodology framework called Scrum. The Scrum Master is a servant-leader for the Scrum Team. He promotes and supports Scrum as it is defined in the Scrum Guide, and he helps the Team to understand the rules, values, and practices that are a part of this framework. His main goal is to maximize the values created by the Team.
The project manager is responsible for meeting the project objectives; the Scrum Master doesn’t realize this role in the Scrum Team. This responsibility is closer to the Product Owner, whose focus lies on maximizing value from the product. The Scrum Master usually helps the Product Owner in backlog management and product planning — after all, the Scrum Master’s expertise is in the tools and techniques that help teams stay productive and well-organized. The Scrum Master also makes sure that the product domain, scope, and goals are clear to the team.
Project manager vs. Scrum Master: the differences
Consider the ten project management knowledge areas. The Scrum Master contributes to resource, communications, scope, and quality management knowledge areas within the organization. The project manager contributes to all of them.
The Scrum Master follows the Scrum rules and fosters the Scrum framework. The project manager, on the other hand, is free to customize their approach to match the unique needs of the team, department, or the entire organization. They can select the right approach by taking into account the project requirements.
While the project manager prepares a meeting schedule and project communication plan, the Scrum Master facilitates Daily Scrum meetings and other meetings in accordance with the Scrum framework.
The Scrum Master works in small Scrum Teams and is responsible for the performance of this team. Project managers usually handle larger teams and sometimes even multiple project teams. The project manager is responsible for the performance of various project teams.
Project managers prepare the work schedule and assign responsibilities to team members. Scrum Masters coach the team on the Scrum framework and motivate team members to do their best.
While the Scrum Master cares more about maximizing the product value based on user stories, the project manager plans and schedules the project scope, sometimes baselining the budget.
Since these two roles require different skills, project managers usually focus on PMP or Prince2 certifications for project management roles. Scrum Master needs certification from the Scrum.org or from Scrum Alliance.
Project manager vs. Scrum Master: the similarities
They don’t have supreme authority. Project managers have to report to clients and other project stakeholders. Scrum Masters have to report to clients, project stakeholders, and Product Owners.
Both the project manager and Scrum Master communicate with the team, receive feedback, mitigate risks, and ensure greater bonding within a team.
Project managers and Scrum Master are concerned about the team’s performance and always look for ways to help the team improve its efficiency.
The Scrum Master engages with the team for coaching and facilitation of Scrum ceremonies. The project manager also engages with the team, especially for resolving conflicts and issues.
Both roles focus on quality and adhere to industry best practices that ensure it.
They face many challenges and work in demanding industries.
Both roles require years of experience and specific skill sets to succeed.