Roles | Project Manager vs Scrum Master vs Product Owner

Project Manager vs Scrum Master vs Project Owner
Visual Paradigm | Undated

Role of Project Manager
The traditional Project Manager is a leader, a decision maker, a planner who manages the project and his team and is the person accountable to the business for accomplishing the project objectives. Project manager’s role is to manage the projects and ensure that the project meets the requirements.

The roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager includes:
Define project scope
Gather requirements
Identify activities, dependencies, sequencing, and time estimates.
Identify resources needed
Manages the budget
Reports to business leadership on project progress
Focuses on process
Allocates tasks
Prioritizes features
Ensure quality
Manage vendors
Manages risk

Role of Scrum Master
The Scrum Master doesn’t manage the team that produces the work, instead he supports the Product Owner, coaches the team and makes sure that Scrum processes are adhered to. The Scrum Master is responsible for the Scrum process, its correct implementation, and the maximization of its benefits.

The role of the Scrum Master is more a coaching and facilitation role, a role that sits between the project and the customer and the role includes:
Lead Sprint Planning
Lead / Organize the daily Scrum Meeting
Coaches the product owner
Monitoring the progress of the sprint
Helps team estimate and increase velocity
Promotes continuous communication
Reduce team disruptions
Monitors and helps improve team dynamics
Assist with Reporting
Motivates the team
Acts as the glue that holds the team together

Role of Product Owner
Product Owners have a huge responsibility for the project. They are responsible for maintaining a product backlog that describes the product that must continue to fit with the requirements of the business. During any project, as more becomes known about a product, about customers, or about changes in the market, a product often needs to change in order to meet these requirements. The Product Owner has to adjust and re-prioritise the backlog to fit these changes and to steer the project.

Project Owner’s role includes:
Convey a clear vision of the project
Manage and prioritize product backlog
Ensure development team understand tasks and work on the right features in the prioritized order
Provide feedback and sign off work results

Difference between Project Manager and Scrum Master
In Waterfall, the Project Manager takes a leadership role in leading the team and developing and managing the plan. But what about all those project management activities if the team is Agile?
A project manager helps manage the project timeline, resources, and scope in order to meet business requirements. A Scrum Master, however, helps ensure the scrum team is successful.
A Product Owner works with the customer and team to set direction.
A Scrum Master is a coach and facilitator and coaches the development team in executing Agile practices to complete the work the Product Owner prioritizes.
The Scrum Master works with the Product Owner and the development team to ensure the team members can move forward with development with no impediments, and that the Scrum practices are carried out.

Note That: There is a time or place for a project manager in the large projects. The Project manager can cover multiple teams and can work with other dependent teams as well. Project manager can coordinate with multiple teams, help them to meet project timelines and collaborate when resources are required.


Roles | Project Manager vs. Scrum Master

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
Assuring quality
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 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.


Roles | Agile Project Manager VS Scrum Master

Why an Agile Project Manager is Not a Scrum Master
DZone | Mar 03, 2013

Interesting rant from the past (2013!). Excerpts:

(…) It’s not Scrum for these reasons:
The project manager and product owner start the release planning and ask the team if the release planning is ok. The team does not generate the initial draft of release planning itself. In Scrum, the team is supposed to generate all of the planning itself.

The checkin is different from the Scrum standup and the objectives of the checkin are different. I did suggest to the teams that if you want to create a cross-functional team where the functions are separated, if you ask people how they are working together, you might help them work together. Sometimes those questions work, and sometimes they don’t. It depends on the team and whether the people want to work together.

(…) The real difference is the difference between a Scrum Master and an Agile Project Manager. A Scrum Master is not a project manager. A scrum master does not manage risk by him or herself. A project manager will take on the risk management responsibility without asking the team.

A Scrum Master has only allegiance to the team. A project manager has responsibility to the team and to the organization. That means that the project manager might feel torn when the organization pressures the project manager to do something stupid.

(…) Agile makes it easy to protect the team. The question is this: does the Scrum Master have other responsibilities in addition to protecting the team or is the Scrum Master full time? An agile project manager tends to be full time on a geographically distributed team. Even on a geographically distributed team, a Scrum Master is not seen as a full time position. Bless their tiny little hearts, managers don’t seem to understand that transitioning to agile, especially for silo’d distributed teams with different cultural norms is non-trivial. They will make room for a project manager, but a Scrum Master? Oh no. Makes me nuts.

(…) I have nothing against Scrum Masters. Some of my good friends are CSTs (Certified Scrum Trainers). However, they are not all project managers, and have not been project managers, and have not studied the field of project management. Some have been. And, the real issue is this: In a two or three day workshop, they cannot convey to a person who may or may not have been a practicing project manager all of their project knowledge.

(…) I respect Ken and Jeff’s work too much to call it Scrum when it’s not.

Author = Johanna Rothman


Roles | Project Manager VS Scrum Master

What Is The Difference Between Traditional Project Manager And Scrum Master?
iZenBridge | 04/01/2019

Project Manager [PM]

PM owns the goal of delivering a project. The team assists the PM in delivering the work products of the project. The PM is in charge of the project management processes right from planning to the execution stage. PM is the center of all the action and is a single point of contact for successful delivery of the project.
PMs have the “Project” Mindset. With this mindset, all the key decisions are taken by the PM. The mindset is all about how to deliver the project on time. The teams follows and executes them.
To successfully achieve the project goal, PM must be having project context and knowledge, delegate tasks, update plans, drive multiple status meetings, communicate with stakeholders and focus on process.

Traditional Project Manager
owns the goal of delivery of project.
does all the work right from Planning, prioritizing features, managing dependencies across teams, takes Risks, communicates etc.
is single point of contact for driving the delivery of the project
PM is the center of all the action and is a single point of contact for successful delivery of the project

Scrum Master [SM]

Unlike PM, the SM is not accountable for delivery of the project. SM is grounded in servant leadership and facilitation, the SM roles do not map directly to any deliverables.
The SM owns the goal of making the team accountable for the project. The Team is at the center of all the action. Scrum master takes the back seat, guides the team by demonstrating the best practices of scrum ceremonies, mentors, grooms, coaches, and develops the team into self-organized, self-managed team. SM inculcates the agile mindset, scrum values, and promotes XP Practices into the team in a way that the team sustains delivering the customer value continuously with no compromise on quality.
Team follows “agile manifesto” values and does all the work done by the traditional project manager. Once the teams are fully coached and transformed into high performing self-organized teams, it’s like attaining Nirvana for the agile teams. The Scrum Master makes the team self-organized, shields the team from outside distractions and assists the team in unblocking any impediments, so that the team can achieve its desired goal.

Scrum Master
owns the goal of making the team accountable for the project.
Team follows “agile manifesto” values and does all the work done by the traditional project manager.
guides the team towards delivery of project.
The Team is at the center of all the action. The Scrum master is out of the action and plays a role of facilitator and servant leadership

Article also includes a few other opinions on these roles

Author = Giri Saran


Roles | Project Manager in Agile

Role of a Project Manager in Managing Agile Projects
Journal of Business & Financial Affairs | Aug 12, 2016

Always interesting to read about how Agile & Scrum are perceived out of the IT world. This dates from 2016 and is a good read. Excerpts:

(…) Project manager in agile project
According to Turbit et al., a project manager is a way to connect to the steering committee [10]. The responsibilities of a project manager include the following:
• Managing people in an unpredictable and stressful environment – In agile projects, project timelines are critical. Project Manager ensures the sprint of the project is completed on time.
• Motivating everyone to remain focused on reaching the goal. In a large agile project, challenges and issues create frustration among team members. Project manager motivates his team members to avoid any issues that degrade employees’ performance.
• Modifying work-pressure and timelines to keep the pace – The project is divided among several segments which need to be completed phase wise in a specific timeline. The project manager assigns tasks to individual and balances the workload.
• Managing issues and escalating to the right authorities – Project manager informs the right person at the right time to resolve the issue.
• Communicating changes to the stakeholders – Project manager informs all the stakeholders about the status of the project.
• Fighting for the proper resource – Project manager manages approvals for required resources from the authorized people.
• Preparing project plans and making changes if necessary – Project manager helps to prepare project plans and ensure the project plan is being followed. If any changes required, he ensures changes are updated in the project plan and communicated to all.
• Developing risk management plans – Project manager identifies risks and develops risk management plans.
• Resolving issues to keep the project moving – Project manager ensures any interpersonal conflict, political issues, technical skill scarcity, shortage of the budget should not harm the project. He takes preventive actions to avoid risks.

(…) Project manager as a scrum master
As a scrum master, a successful project manager attains a daily meeting with the team members. This helps the project manager to identify any issues that the team members have faced or shared the update among all the team members [11]. As a scrum master, the project manager is responsible for sharing status reporting, communicating changes, risks, project plans and to identify any missing roles. Contrary to waterfall method, roles are distributed among all the team members. The key people in an agile method are the team members, scrum master, and the client.

(…) Findings: How role of a scrum master differs from a PM
According to Frederico et al., the role of a project manager and a scrum master differs from each other [12]. In an agile project environment, the roles of a project manager and a scrum master are as follows:
• A project manager manages the project – scope, cost, timeline and the overall quality of the project. A scrum master manages each scrum to reach the project goals.
• A project manager might manage multiple projects at a time. A scrum master usually focused on a specific project team.
• A project manager manages the budget and the risks of the project. A scrum master motivates the team members, facilitates sprint planning and scrum meetings.
• A project manager focuses on processes and allocates tasks to the team members. A scrum master helps to improve team dynamics and acts as a servant leader if required by the project.
• A project manager is a communicator between the management team and the team members. A scrum master is the facilitator and trains the product owner.
• A project manager informs the management about the project progress and coordinates with other teams. A scrum master motivates the team members and increases the team bonding.

Author = Soumita Banerjee


Roles | Project Manager VS Scrum Master

Project Managers Make Lousy Scrum Masters
Vitality Chicago | Jul 26, 2018

Interesting read. In a nutshell:

Project Managers Are Predisposed to Control
The main challenge that project managers have when performing the scrum master role is that it is different. The skills and approach that make a project manager great will make a scrum master fail.
If I were to pick out just one thing that project managers need to focus on, it would be control. PMs are predisposed to manage and control. What do they control? Everything! That is how they make sure their project succeeds.
In A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), we can see all the areas that project managers are expected to manage or control including scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, risk, procurement and stakeholders…which is pretty much everything.
The project manager has overall responsibility for the successful initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of a project. The project manager takes charge and succeeds by getting work done through others. The project manager has also been the one to blame when things go wrong.
In contrast, the scrum master is a servant leader who doesn’t have the overall responsibility for delivery. The scrum master supports the product owner and scrum team to take responsibility for all aspects of the work: planning, estimation, executing and delivery. The primary responsibilities of the scrum master could be summarized as:
Teaching and coaching scrum to the team and product owner
Helping the development team to self-organize
Removing impediments
Serving the product owner, dev team and organization
Facilitating scrum events

Project Managers Need to Relinquish Control

A Quick Litmus Test On Command And Control
While not perfect, this assessment might give you an idea of the level of control you tend to exert. Take a moment to go through the questions below and track how many “yes” responses you have:

Identifying Controlling Behavior
Do you feel that you need to monitor your team members so that they don’t slack off?
Do you believe that you generally know what is best, and willingly offer solutions and advice?
Do you tend to interject yourself into problem solving, even when you are not invited to get involved?
Do you try to make the results conform to your idea of what the results should be?
Do you feel uncomfortable when others are in control and you are not?
Do you feel uneasy by the idea that your employees or team may operate fine without you?
Do you feel the need to be involved in the details and decisions to reduce the risk of the project failing or having a misstep?
Do you feel solely and personally responsible for the success and failure of the people you lead?
Do you tend to step in or override others to protect them from possible mistakes or the consequences of their decisions?

Author = Anthony Mersino


Time Management: Meetings & PTA-S

Time Management: Meetings & PTA-S
Yours Truly | November 2019


  • Purpose
  • Time
  • Agenda
  • Summary

Scrum Master prepares a PTA-S before each Meeting
PTA = presented in 5 minutes at the beginning of the Meeting
S = presented at the end of the Meeting, time-box to 5 minutes/hour

Summary = Notes taken by the Scrum Master during the Meeting, when Agenda Items are discussed. Makes sure everyone is on par with what was discussed and potentially shareable with non-participants.

If anything come up that is not in the Agenda, take note of it in a Parking, to be discussed afterward.

Source = Michael de la Maza in “Robust Scrum Master Training” (Udemy)

Key Findings from Cloud Leaders: Why a Cloud Center of Excellence Matters

AWS recommends a cloud center of excellence (CCoE) to address the added complexity. And as the report shows, IT and business operations leaders recognize the power of this best practice – even if they haven’t yet applied it.

“A Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) is a cross-functional team of people responsible for developing and managing the cloud strategy, governance, and best practices that the rest of the organization can leverage to transform the business using the cloud. The CCoE leads the organization as a whole in cloud adoption, migration, and operations. It may also be called a Cloud Competency Center, Cloud Capability
Center, or Cloud Knowledge Center. “ — Cloud Management Report 2017

Three key themes emerged from the report:

  1. The full potential of the cloud has not yet been realized
  2. Organizations adopting a CCoE for cloud leadership and vision
  3. Organizations benefit from a CCoE

Author = AWS Public Sector Blog Team

Scrum Master Engagement Patterns: The Development Team

Last year, I ran a (non-representative) survey on how Scrum Masters are allocating their time when working with a single Scrum Team. Much to the surprise of many readers, the direct Scrum Master engagement with a single Scrum Team of average size and a typical 2-week Sprint turned out to be about 12 hours per week.

This result immediately prompted two additional questions: What are Scrum Masters doing during the rest of the week, and in what way does a Scrum Master’s work manifest itself over time? While answering the above question requires additional research and data collection, the latter can be answered to a certain grade by focusing on a few common scenarios.

The first article of this series will address the Scrum Master engagement with the Development Team.

Other content:
The Scrum Master Responsibilities According to the Scrum Guide
Scrum Master Engagement with the Development Team

(…) three main scenarios for the Scrum Master’s support of the team:
The Co-located, Stable Scrum Team Scenario
The Distributed Scrum Team Scenario
The Remote, Outsourced Scrum Team Scenario

Scrum Master Engagement Pattern—Conclusion

Author = Stefan Wolpers