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Scrum Master vs Project Manager

by Ramya

August 01, 2018
Category Agile and Scrum


Scrum Master VS Project Manager

Scrum Master V/s Project Manager?are both same? Which role is correct? Whom to choose? There is lot of confusion and misconception around all these questions. People tend to get confused with both the roles. The answer is simple. In Agile, there is no role as Project Manager. There are only 3 roles in Agile namely, Scrum Team, Scrum Master and Product Owner. But nowadays, the Firms who are shifting their focus to Agile, who are amidst of the evolution or Firms who follow mix of both the methodologies, have a Project Manager who acts as a Scrum Master and vice versa. But bare in mind, both are not same, and both have their own set of role play and tasks. Further in this blog, let us educate more on Scrum Master vs Project Manager.

Roles and Responsibilities of Project Manager:

  1. • Planning and Defining Scope
  2. • Setting up of Processes
  3. • Work or Task allocation
  4. • Point of Contact for resolving issues and hurdles
  5. • Coordination with the Shareholders and clients for understanding the necessities and prioritizing them
  6. • Procurement
  7. • Stating Risk, dealing with the Risk and Preparing Mitigation plan
  8. • Ensure Quality of the product
  9. • Preparing and Maintaining Reports
  10. • Resource and Schedule planning
  11. • Track deliverables and progress
  12. • Deliver and implement technology resolutions
  13. • Work together with the crew to outline the scope of work (e.g. what is the desirable result, tasks for delivering it, and timelines.)
  14. • Collaborate with the functional team to understand the point from team and allocate task and manage the same. Also, if there is no capacity with the team to achieve that task, this person would be responsible for simplification and final resolution of the capacity problems.
  15. • The job of the project manager is to eliminate uncertainty in roles and responsibilities by clearly plotting out doings against desired results within timelines. Recognizing the interdependencies between deliverables and teams openly will better control what teams should be more united and when, in the product progress process
  16. • Handle team having cross functional flavors and assignments

Skillset of a Project Manager:

  1. Leadership– It’s vital to be able to motivate others, set the goal and lead successfully, A Project Manager must possess headship skills
  2. Negotiation– Project managers with decent negotiation or concession skills are plus to their teams as they pursue to resolve struggles by discovering the win-win situation for everyone.
  3. Scheduling– Having good scheduling and estimates will benefit you deliver things more effectively for Team.
  4. Cost Control– Cost Controlling skills are most beneficial for a Project Manager as budgets are always tight for any project
  5. Critical Thinking– Critical thinking is essential for Project Managers in decision making process. Before making any decision, Project Manager must think from all angles to reach out to a conclusion. This quality of handling issues or Critical thinking skill makes him stand out in the crowd.
  6. Communication: Communication is one of the core skills any management guy must possess. It becomes critical for a Project Manager to have a crisp and good communication as he deals with the customer and the stakeholders. He is face of the Organization. So, if a Manager is good at processes and Managerial skills but has poor communication, it is a big minus for him

Certified Scrum Master

Roles and Responsibilities of Scrum Master:

  1. • Helps his team for better imagination and attempts to improve the efficacy of the development team.
  2. • Responsible for handling the scrum process with the harmonization of scrum team in Agile methodology.
  3. • Responsible to eliminate the impairments for the scrum team.
  4. • Arrange daily stand-up meetings, enable meetings, schedule meetings, demo and decision-making processes in order to ensure speedy review and appropriate use of revision process.
  5. • Supports product owner to maintain product backlog in good shape and make them available for the next sprint.
  6. • Responsible to Conduct retrospective meetings.
  7. • Arranges and enables the sprint planning meeting.
  8. • Acts as safety measure for his team.

Skillset required for Scrum Master:

  1. • Scrum master is in charge of facilitating daily scrum, sprint planning, sprint demo and retrospective meetings.
  2. • Owns conflict resolution, initiates conversation by focusing on scrum values of openness, honesty and respect.
  3. • Should be a friendly and easily approachable person, because when Scrum team is going ahead in a fast pace in Agile, communication and collaboration are the actual tools which grips the team collected.
  4. • Needs to predict the artifacts and number of viable functionalities achievable in an iteration, which is retrieved on the amount of efforts team is putting in.
  5. • He is expected to be proficient in estimation and planning. He must know how to generate valuable, dependable and real plans for software development projects.
  6. • Should be a good instructor in Agile practices. He must practice Agile motto of people and interactions over tools in a Project and imbibe this culture in team for better and effective results.
  7. • Support team or individual to simplify goals and activities to attain them.
  8. • Capability to safeguard his team from exterior interruptions and interventions.
  9. • Capability to confirm the accurate usage of scrum process.
  10. • Ability to follow and eradicate weaknesses.
  11. • Scrum master is a Servant Leader first, who serves his crew members before considering about himself

Project Manager roles taken over in Agile:

Now we know what all are the roles of a Project Manager in a team. Let us see why there is no Project Manager role in Agile and who covers the responsibilities of Project Manager.

a. Scrum Master

  1. • Process related role
  2. • Point of Contact for resolving issues and hurdles
  3. • Stating Risk, Managing the Risk and Preparing Mitigation plan
  4. • Preparing and Maintaining Reports
  5. • Resource and Schedule planning
  6. • Track deliverables
  7. • Interaction and collaboration with team members

b. Scrum Team

  1. • Work or Task allocation
  2. • Stating Risk, Managing the Risk and Preparing Mitigation plan
  3. • Ensure quality of the product
  4. • Track deliverables
  5. • Estimations
  6. • Deliver and implement technology resolutions

c. Product Owner

  1. • Coordination with the Stakeholders and clients for understanding the requirements and prioritizing them
  2. • Procurement
  3. • Planning and defining scope

As you have seen above almost all the responsibilities of Project Manager are handled in Agile by either Scrum Team, Scrum Master or Product Owner so there is no real need for a Project Manager Role in Agile and Scrum.

                                                                 Project Manager vs Scrum Master

Difference in roles of Scrum Master vs Project Manager:

In the process of remarking the differences between the Project Manager and the Scrum Master, you will notice and observe that the Project Manager plays the management and lead role by leading a planning for the implementation of the project whereas Scrum Master plays a supporting role for the team members, by working meticulously with the team and promising that they are following Agile principles, values and processes efficiently and correctly. Project Manager leads one or more distinct projects. Scrum Master is a precise role set in single framework – Scrum.

In an Agile Project, a PM chooses procedures, equipment, and methods that he finds suitable. He holds crucial roles and responsibilities of a project manager. However, the functionalities are implemented incrementally and in repetitions. For example, using Scrum methodology. Therefore, in addition, Project Manager shoulders a role of a Scrum Master. A Project Manager can more correctly justify the role of a Scrum Master by pursuing the CSM certification. With this, it helps to switch between the roles easily. Otherwise, Project Manager and Scrum Master requires different mindset in a project and becomes difficult for an individual to handle both the roles single handedly.

Conclusion: Project Manager or Scrum Master?

This is a question which haunts almost everyone in an Organization. Whom to choose? Who is apt? Who will play a better role? Who will do justice to the role? So, as per me, If the Company or a Project is following Traditional waterfall model, then Project Manager is the correct role. If the company or Project is following Agile, then Scrum Master is apt. But as I have mentioned in the introductory paragraph, not all the companies have completely transited into Agile, they are somewhere in the middle of transition from Waterfall to Agile. In such cases, the Project Manager takes over the role of Scrum Master and yet handles both the responsibilities. There is no harm in doing so. There is not set of rules to be followed or practiced in a certain way in agile or Scrum. For e.g., in Scrum, there are stand up calls, Sprint Planning, Retrospective meetings and Sprint Review defined in the framework. But if you feel, arranging an extra technical discussion call will add VALUE to your Project, then you can definitely include that. The bottom line is, if some process is adding value then go ahead with it. Similarly, whichever role suits your project, call it Project Manager or Scrum Master, you are free to choose. Project Manager playing Scrum Master and vice versa is possible. However, both the roles are not same. Both Project Manager and Scrum Master are different.