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Scrum Master vs Project Manager: Roles & Key Differences?

by Ganesh Kolekar
Scrum Master vs Project Manager: Roles & Key Differences?

In the IT industry,  the most confusion occurs between these two words   Scrum Master and Project Manager. Yes, both of these words are supposed to define the roles that contribute to the projects. But those who don’t have much work experience, tend to mistake them for synonyms. Sometimes the people in the top management struggle to understand whether there is any difference between these roles or not. Of course, they are not the same, otherwise, why would they be named differently, right?

Some professionals also believe that the scrum master is just the project manager in an agile development type of project. There are indeed many similarities between these two roles but when you carefully study the roles and responsibilities of both of these under custom software development projects, then you will come to know how Scrum Master and Project Manager are different from each other.

And that is the reason why in this article, we are going to unravel the mystery of Scrum Master vs Project Manager, by defining those terms as clearly as possible and discussing their responsibilities in detail. Then we will move on to analyze the differences between these two roles. So have a good read ahead.

Scrum master

A Scrum master is the one who watches over the project to ensure that it stays on track. They can give guidance and advice to the team members, but they are not responsible for any project work.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Scrum Master

A scrum master is a role that helps teams to manage daily work. It is their responsibility to keep the development team focused on their sprint goals and also guide them through the way if they encounter any problems. The Scrum Master ensures that everyone on the team is working together towards the same goals, and can also help with any issues that may arise during the development process.

The Scrum Master should be willing to help everyone in their area with any questions or problems they may have while they’re working on a project. They should also be able to demonstrate how they can help others, which will make them more effective when it comes time for them to help someone else in their team.

The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum process is executed effectively.

A good Scrum Master should be a coach, facilitator, and instructor. It is their job to see to it that the scrum process is effectively executed for the development project.

The Scrum Master can:

  • Set up any workshops or classes needed to teach new team members about Scrum.
  • Help the team members to understand what the scrum framework is and how it works.
  • If any issue arises, say related to the release plans or product backlogs then it’s their job to coordinate all the progress and problems of the project with the product owners.
  • Coordinate with stakeholders on issues related to the project scope, timelines, and budget.
  • The Scrum Master is the leader, guide, and coach of the Agile Team.
  • The Scrum Master ensures that the team stays on track and delivers high-quality work that meets the requirements set forth by the product owner, stakeholders, or customers.
  • The Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that all members of the team are knowledgeable about all aspects of their roles and responsibilities.
  • The Scrum Master serves as an interventionist when needed to ensure that people are working together effectively.

Project Manager

The burden of the success of the entire project is carried on the shoulder of a project manager. They not only supervise the entire project but also oversee each stage of the development process to ensure that project is completed within the predetermined timeline and budget.

Roles and Responsibilities of a  Project Manager

Every phase of the development process must go smoothly to complete the project and it’s the responsibility of the project manager to take care of it. They do not have much authority over the team members, but they can make sure that all deadlines are met and that progress is being made as required.

Project Managers are required to understand the client’s business goals and objectives; create a schedule; assess risks; monitor progress against schedule; communicate with stakeholders regularly; manage team members effectively; define the scope of work (and assign tasks); manage cost; manage the budget effectively; negotiate contracts with vendors and suppliers.

I can not press this point enough that the success of the project depends upon how the project manager does their job. The Project Manager role requires a high degree of planning, communication, and delegation skills.

Key differences between Scrum Master and Project Manager

Many times IT professionals use both of these terms scrum master and project manager interchangeably. They do not see much difference but there are plenty of them. It is the role of a project manager to come up with a plan for the project and perfectly execute it too. And all of this must be done within the budget. A scrum master on the other hand is responsible for implementing Scrum in an organization. Both these are key roles in a company.

A scrum master handles all aspects of scrum activities in an organization whereas a project manager does not have any role in scrum activities. The main difference between these two roles is that a scrum master is responsible for managing all aspects of scrum activities whereas a project manager only focuses on managing the overall management of a project.

Scrum Masters may be people who have been through a Scrum training course or they may be people who have had experience in managing projects of similar size and complexity. They are also often involved in other roles within their company, such as being a Business Analyst, Software Architect, or Technical architect.

The Project Manager typically has an organizational background in which he or she understands processes and procedures. This person will manage specific projects from start to finish, managing stakeholders, timelines, and budgets as needed.

The project manager plays more of a leadership role by leading the team, and project with thorough planning and execution. On the other hand, the Scrum master plays somewhat of a supportive role by working closely with the development team and ensuring that they follow agile principles very well.

The contribution of a scrum master to the project is supported by Scrum project management principles. Meanwhile, the project manager works with conventional project management principles.

Conclusion

After reading this blog, I hope you have got a clear idea of the roles and responsibilities of both Scrum Master and Project Manager. We know that both of them have distinct roles to play and each has an important contribution to make to the project. And for that, each one of them requires unique skill sets.

If you want to make your project successful then you must understand such differences before you start hiring your team. In this fast-changing world, agile development is an ideal choice for your project whereas the success of your project solely depends on your project manager.

However, if your business requirements are different and you don’t need both of them on board your team then it is fine to go along with just one of them. For example, if you are working with a conventional waterfall development model then you won’t need a scrum master for your project.

But every project would need a project manager. Still, you don’t have to hire a person for it. You just need the right skill set for the job. So if you already have someone in your team or company who can easily assume the position of a project manager then there is no need for you to waste your time finding one for you.

No matter how you proceed, keep one thing in mind you have all the necessary people with enough skill-set in your team for the successful completion of your project.

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