What is the role of Project Manager in Scrum and Agile team

by StarAgile

April 02, 2019
Category Agile and Scrum

When we talk about projects and development in the IT industry, then we can relate to a project manager immediately. Project management is the key to every successful project delivery. Agile projects are no exception to this perception.

But, the three key roles in scrum team include product owner, scrum master and the team members. Where the project manager in a scrum team is your question now? Let us explain to you about the role of a project manager in a scrum team. Also, we will tell you the connection between a scrum master and a project manager in agile projects.

In this article, we will help you understand the key difference between a traditional and agile project manager. How to fit a project manager in the agile team? Does a scrum master differ from a project manager? Then we will tell you how to make a project manager deliver the responsibilities of a scrum master in projects.


Before we start, let us tell you the terminologies used in this article for your reference.

  • Traditional project manager – TPM
  • Agile project manager – APM
  • Project Manager – PM
  • Product Owner – PO
  • Scrum Master – SM

Difference between Traditional Project Manager and Agile Project Manager

Traditional project management is used in Waterfall Model where the organizational structure is linear and hence it helps large scale project implementation. The development model is the life cycle and the user need is defined clearly before the inception of the project.

On the other hand, the agile project management is used in Agile Methodology in which the organization structure is iterative and an evolutionary delivery model is required. The client is constantly associated with the project and the requirement is dynamic. Therefore the role of a PM also needs to be designed in such a way to handle these two extreme methods.

The table below explains the role of a PM in a traditional and agile project.

The primary focus is on the artifacts and the planning
Attaining customer satisfaction is the prime objective of the PM

Response to change

Corrective action is suggested after delivery
Adaptive actions are suggested at every sprint and no need for corrective action post delivery
Enormous blunt planning
Progressive and rolling-wave
Scope dependent delivery
Management style
Manages activities and simplifies work
Manages the commitment and simplifies the features at each stage
Hierarchical and hence PM is responsible for team discipline
Self-disciplined team and PM plays a minor role in managing the team

From the above table, it is understood that a PM in an agile team does not have a separate role as in a traditional project. There is no command and controls required and hence let us now see how a PM fits an agile team.

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The Project Manager: How Do he Fit into an Agile Team?

When we look at the surface level, there is no official role for a PM in an agile team as all team members are assigned with distributed responsibilities. However, let us take a detailed look to understand the role of a PM in agile projects.

First, understand that a project manager is not a designation but a role in agile projects. This person does not identify stakeholders and establish project scope but a PM in an agile project is a product vision evangelist. Also, this person helps to integrate people with non-product development teams. The PM in an agile project does not track the project progress but monitors the project metrics. Finally, this person not just closes the project phase but closes the release and procurement.

From the above explanation, you can infer that a PM in an agile team is a dynamic role and there is no definite designation for a person.

Role of project Manager in Scrum Team

The next question you will get is, then is the person the same as an Scrum Master in agile projects. No, and yes, let us see how an Scrum Master differs from PM and how can a PM play the role of an Scrum Master.

Scrum Master Vs Project Manager

Project Manager
Scrum Master
Plans budget, defines the scope and make sure the project completes on time
Trains the team members on agile practices. Offers to coach to the scrum team and ensure to tune team members mindset.

Quality Assurance

PM manages a QA consultant and ensures quality
SM is the sole owner for quality
PM handles large size projects and many people report to him
Scrum projects are medium and small scale. Also manages a small team as most of them are self-disciplined in a scrum team

Primary Role

Works closely with the management and manages the team to ensure delivery
Scrum ceremony facilitator uses tools to ensure smooth delivery, executes the product backlog and motivates the entire team for delivery


  • Plans and defines the scope
  • Plans and sequences activities
  • Resource planning
  • Develops schedules
  • Estimate time and cost
  • Documents the project work
  • Creates charts
  • Risk management
  • Monitor progress
  • Leads the team
  • Change agent
  • Make sure the team is productive
  • Collaborates the stakeholders
  • Manages daily standup, sprint, and retrospectives
  • Resolves team conflicts
  • Reduces disruption
  • Reduces WIP
  • Updates burndown chart
  • Addresses dependencies
  • Make sure the team adheres to the process

In summary, PM is a leader but SM is a coach. PM is a decision maker, whereas Scrum Master is a facilitator. PM takes care of the project and its alignment with the business requirement. Scrum Master is the owner of the entire project team and mediates with the customer.

Project manager as a scrum master in Agile or Scrum Team

Now, you witnessed all the difference between a Project Manager and an Scrum Master. But, do not jump into a conclusion that they both will not meet in a line. There are similarities between PM and SM also it is possible for a PM to act as an SM in agile projects. Continue reading to get enlightenment in that area.

Three unity between PM and SM

  1. Both are individual who deals with the team’s emotion and hence they are closely associated with the team members. They receive feedback and mitigate risk.
  2. PM and SM are not the supreme authority as they both depend on the client and other stakeholders for decision.
  3. It is a must that they understand their role clearly to prevent failure of both the team performance and the project delivery.

Before understanding how to become an Scrum Master from a Project Manager, you must agree with the need for the transition.

Why PM to SM

As we are aware that both PM and SM deal with the team in project delivery, it is good to be an SM as you can focus on the priorities for a particular sprint. Unlike a PM must set priority to the team for the entire project tenure which is time-consuming and cumbersome. SM has a scope to measure deliverables at every sprint and corrective action can be taken.

SM need not spend the time collecting, verifying, and ensuring communication between resources as a PM does. But simply can allow the team to talk during the stand-up meeting and resolve conflicts.

Client satisfaction is discussed in every sprint and hence final delivery burden is not there as an SM. But, a PM must wait till the end to know if the customer feels happy about the product delivered. The risk is more working as a PM but not as an SM.

Now, follow these top 5 tips to gradually move as an SM from a PM in your agile projects.

Top 5 tips to become an effective SM from a traditional PM

1. Thought process – Mindset is the key in agile projects and let us start with that in a PM to SM role migration as well. Think that you are a servant leader and think from the team perspective and not as a leader. Stop thinking that you know the best and you need to make decisions. Think that the team knows the best and the team will decide. In short, you must focus on the team and its health to become a successful SM.

2. Scrum Certification – Know the CSM Certification benefits and apply for a certification course with the best institute in India. This will certainly help you understand the concepts, team, and implementation in detail. Attending training is the best decision than reading books as you can meet people real-time share knowledge and role play the SM role to master the art of becoming a scrum master.

3. Task/Status Vs People/Interaction – To become a good SM you must first stop focussing on people and their interactions. Because task and status can be achieved only with effective people and their constructive interactions. Focus on the team and the task will get executed on its own. Remember that only with the right people project delivery is possible. So give importance to people their ability to automatically deliver things at the right time.

4. Ask for solutions and not questions – Yes, do not ask questions as the team only feels offended. Instead, ask for solutions to problems and make the team own the issue. Empower them to take a decision and never blame them.

5. Encourage the feedbacks – Give room for feedback and an SM is not the boss but a facilitator. Therefore allow the team, customer, and all stakeholders to share the feedback and you can make improvement from them. The only team can share their thoughts, then you can plan for enhancement during every sprint.


Role of a project manager in a scrum team is more than a leader but a servant leader. Therefore begin with a mindset and work with the team. Forget status update as the goal of a daily stand up meeting as it is the time allotted for teams to communicate. The more the team talks, the more is the chance for moving closer to achieving deadlines. You must register in mind that a project manager is just a role in the scrum projects and not a designation as in a waterfall method.

A project manager must become a scrum master to take the team along throughout the project. Practice becoming a scrum master by applying the suggestions given in this article in your projects and do away with a traditional project manager mindset.

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