Scrum Master vs. Project Manager: What's the difference?

Scrum Master Vs. Project Manager

There is an ongoing dilemma differentiating the Scrum Master vs. Project Manager roles. Can a Scrum Master fill the Project Manager position and vice versa? Let’s evaluate the differences between these roles and what they bring to the organization.

Scrum Master and Project Manager are terms that one frequently hears in the software development industry. Both positions play significant roles in software development. However, these roles often add confusion to newbies in the field. 

Even some companies are having trouble differentiating the two. People often consider the Scrum Master the equivalent of a Project Manager in an Agile environment. It may sound correct because the two positions have some overlapping responsibilities. Still, they are entirely different from each other.

So, what are their differences? This article will discuss who are the Scrum Masters and who are the Project Managers. We will also tackle their responsibilities to distinguish their software development positions. Let’s start by defining each role.

Who is a Scrum Master?

Simply put, a Scrum Master is the individual assigned to ensure that Scrum principles are applied throughout the project. As their name suggests, they are experts in the Scrum framework. Hence, they facilitate team meetings and coachings about the best Scrum practices. They also support the team in dealing with issues that come up during the software development process.

Aside from the ones mentioned, their roles and responsibilities vary depending on the project or the company’s needs. The following section will discuss the general duties of a Scrum Master.

What does a Scrum Master do?

Scrum Masters help their team collaborate smoothly to maximize the team’s productivity. With that, here are some of their assigned duties:

  • Lead and facilitate Scrum team meetings, training, and events
  • Mentor and guide team members about the Scrum principles and rules
  • Helps the team in removing roadblocks that impede productivity and progress
  • Plan and implement the Scrum guidelines in the organization
  • Assists product owners in managing product backlogs effectively
  • Help in communicating the product needs to the development team
  • Monitor and evaluate performance and progress to help teams improve
  • Design and organize product or system demos and testings
  • Tracking project status, processes, deliverables, and financials
  • Make and present project status reports to stakeholders

Overall, they are in charge of facilitating the Scrum team. They stand as a coach or guardian of the team. Scrum Masters ensure that everyone and all processes adhere to the Scrum principles and guidelines.

Scrum Master Skills and Requirements

Essentially, Scrum Masters need to have technical and soft business skills to fulfill their vital role. Below are the requirements and skills needed by a Scrum Master to be successful:

  • A degree in computer sciences, computer engineering, or any related field
  • Scrum Master certification
  • Experience as a team leader or any similar roles
  • In-depth knowledge of Agile methodology, frameworks, and techniques
  • Expertise in software development
  • Excellent leadership and people management skills
  • Strong communications and mentorship skills
  • Analytical, organized, and problem-solver

Scrum Masters are servant-leaders. Their main goal is to eliminate obstacles to help their team become more efficient and productive. That’s why it is very important for them to have excellent soft skills.

With that, let’s proceed to identify who is a Project Manager and what their responsibilities are.

Who is a Project Manager?

By now, you have an idea about what a Scrum Master is. So, let us proceed in defining who a Project Manager is. Unlike Scrum Masters, who are responsible for having their team deliver the maximum product value, Project Managers have wider scopes. Of course, they are also accountable for their project team but are also involved in other project activities.

Project Managers’ duties start from initiation, planning, execution, modification, monitoring, and deployment until the final maintenance. They must set the project management approach that the developers, testers, analysts, and support team must adhere to.

What does a Project Manager do?

To better understand the scope of their responsibilities, here are some of their typical duties:

  • Coordinate with cross-discipline members to manage project aspects are on track
  • Leading the team in identifying and resolving issues
  • Delegate and assign tasks to the right members
  • Continuously track the project progress to ensure quality control
  • Ensure timely project reports to stakeholders
  • Ensure project documentation and updates are on time
  • Plan work schedules
  • Identify, monitor, and resolve project risks
  • Manage the project budget, time, scope, and resources
  • Ensure timely project delivery
  • Conduct post-project evaluation 
  • Identify successful and unsuccessful elements of the project 

Project Managers coordinate with the team and stakeholders to ensure high-quality and timely delivery. Their responsibilities seem to have no boundaries. That is why companies have many requirements when picking one.

Project Manager Skills and Requirements

A Project Manager oversees different projects. They monitor the project progress and ensure that they are completed on time and meet client expectations. Although they don’t usually perform hands-on tasks, they need to have enough knowledge of the project’s different aspects. Hence, they need to have the following qualifications:

  • A computer science, information technology degree, or any related courses
  • Experience in project management and leading a team
  • Strong software development skills
  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of project management methodologies
  • Knowledgeable about software development lifecycle (SDLC)
  • Experience in budget management
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and decision-making skills
  • Leadership and organizational skills
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills
  • Multitasking skills and attention to detail

Project Managers need to have strong business and leadership skills based on their responsibilities. Now that you know more about each role, it’s time to discuss their differences.

Scrum Master vs. Project Manager: Are They Different?

By now, we have clearly defined what a Scrum Master and a Project Manager are. Their responsibilities may sometimes be similar but, clearly, they are two different roles. 

Although, through the peculiarities of the IT industry, their tasks may overlap. And most IT companies may prefer Scrum Masters over Project Managers due to unique challenges in software development. Still, no one can say one is better than the other—they are both vital. To further understand both roles, let’s break down their key differences.

1. Approach or Methodology

Scrum Masters follow the Scrum rules and always endorse its framework. Meanwhile, Project Managers are free to customize their project management approach. Depending on the project demand, they can use waterfall, Agile, or adaptive frameworks.

2. Scope

Project Managers get involved in every aspect of the project. In comparison, Scrum Masters focus more on resource, quality, and scope management.

3. Team

Scrum Masters are responsible for team dynamics. On the other hand, Project Managers handle team and stakeholder expectations. They are responsible for the performance of interdisciplinary teams, such as the development, finance, and analytics teams.

4. Meetings

Scrum Masters organize daily Scrum meetings. In contrast, Project Managers design and facilitate communication and meeting calendars ahead of time.  

5. Interactions

Project Managers are responsible for tasks delegation and designing work schedules. Meanwhile, Scrum Masters focus on coaching the team about Scrum principles and helping in motivating them.

6. Industry

Scrum Masters are mostly found working in the IT or related industries. In contrast, Project Managers work in any industry.

Project Manager is more a leadership role while Scrum Master focuses on facilitating and coaching. With this information, you can choose to hire both or select only one, depending on the needs of your project.

Find the Best Scrum Masters and Project Managers at Full Scale

Finally, you now have a clear definition of both positions. By studying the scope of responsibilities of each position, you can decide who your project needs more.

Full Scale can provide you with the best Scrum Master and Project Manager to lead your software development project. We are an offshore company specializing in helping businesses with their software development needs.

Our intensive recruitment strategies ensure that we only hire the best. With our training and mentorship programs, our tech leaders are equipped with the techniques and skills geared towards success.

Additionally, we have a pool of software developers, engineers, quality assurance, and other specialists. They have years of experience and technical skills to help you with your software development needs. Talk to us today and we can start forming your dream software development team! 

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