Scrum Master vs. Project Manager

by Rahulprasad Hurkadli

The successful completion of a project involves the active participation of several professionals, including the Project Team Lead, Scheduler, Coordinator, Scrum Master, and Project Manager. While the project manager is responsible to lead the planning and execution of the project, a scrum master supervises the team closely and allocates resources. For an IT entrant, the roles may appear similar due to their overlapping attributes and interdependent functionalities. But in project management, both have distinct designations that work in integration to drive the project to success.


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Scrum Master vs Project Manager

What is a Scrum Master?

Scrum is a framework in the Agile methodology that follows short development cycles, or sprints, to accomplish a complex project. A Scrum Master plans the short-term deliverables of the project, prepares and monitors the team, coaches the team on best practices, and communicates regularly to meet the sprint. Briefly, the roles of a Scrum Master include:

  • Conducting daily meetings, reviews, and demonstrations
  • Supporting and monitoring team members for progress
  • Coaching the team on best practices
  • Resolving conflicts and encouraging discussions
  • Tracking progress using a project management tool

What is a Project Manager?

A Project Manager broadly oversees the entirety of a project by planning, scheduling, curating, integrating, and directing its completion within the specific constraints of time, scope, and budget. The typical day-to-day responsibilities of a Project Manager include:

  • Initiating a project by defining its scope and objectives
  • Scheduling and monitoring tasks to complete each part within a specific timeline
  • Allocating resources and communicating with vendors for progress
  • Identifying and eliminating scope creeps
  • Tracking progress reports using project management tools
  • Ensuring quality and completion of the project within the constraints.


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Scrum Master vs Project Manager

How Do These Roles Work Together in a Project?

Though the roles of Scrum Master and Project Manager are distinct, they are not exclusive. Both these designations complement each other while working on a project. While a Scrum Master mostly enacts the role of a coach and a facilitator, a Project Manager is a leader and decision-maker. But they have a lot in common:


This is the most important skill that both the Scrum Master and Project Manager should possess. They must regularly communicate with all the stakeholders involved with the project and inform them about the plan, schedule, resources used, costs incurred, progress, and issues that need attention. Effective communication should also be established with team members to get regular updates on the project status, modify the plan based on their opinions, resolve conflicts, and fix issues that might delay the completion. Daily stand-up meetings and retrospectives must be conducted by both to keep the workflow streamlined and motivated.


Though both have to exercise their leadership skills to drive the project, the aspects are different for a Scrum Master and a Project Manager. A Scrum Master primarily plays the role of a servant-leader, who follows the Scrum framework and coaches the team on the principles of the Agile methodology. He breaks down the project objective into pieces and organises sprints to speed up the accomplishment of attainable goals. Conversely, a Project Manager motivates the team, convinces people of the project plan, provides reviews and approvals, fixes loopholes, addresses scope creeps, and leads the project holistically.


Both the team leads should be excellent curators, exercising their organisational skills to integrate the project development, organise resources, balance workload, and bring agility to the project. The workforce should be carefully coordinated to enable equal distribution of labour and limit the number of work hours to maintain work-life balance.

Tips for Project Managers Working with Scrum Masters

Project Managers require the support of Scrum Masters to supervise their team and intensify the project development. While working with them, Project Managers need to keep the following points in mind :

  • Scrum Masters should be roped in as soon as the project plan is in place. They should be included in the initiation phase to plan the upcoming sprint as early as possible.
  • Coordinate and collaborate with Scrum Master through weekly meetings to stay updated on the sprint calendar. He should be well-versed with the project plan to ensure streamlined workflow and holistic development.
  • Project Managers should be acquainted with the basics of Jira to attend and understand the status of a ticket without bothering the Scrum Master.
  • Sprint commitment should be taken care of by the Project Managers, considering their cycle of two weeks without interruption. Any alteration or modification of work can be proposed for the next sprint, not the current one.
  • Project Managers are always entitled to ask questions and stay updated about the sprint status. They are expected to get involved in the resolution of blockers and ensure smooth project development.

Tips for Scrum Masters working with Project Managers

Scrum Masters need to collaborate with the Project Manager to develop and coordinate the parts of the project over time. They should be aware of the following activities while working with the Project Manager :

  • Educate each other about the progress of the project. Conduct meetings and discussions to exchange details and action plans for streamlined project management.
  • Maintain transparency on the resources utilised, their availability, and the effect of their modifications on the project.
  • Involve the Project Manager in Scrum ceremonies and events, resolution of issues and delays, exercising of necessary modifications, and discussions on sprint features.
  • Demonstrate the organisation of Jira boards and share access to epics numbers and stories so that the Project Manager can refer to them for status checks as and when required.
    • Understand that a complex Scrum tool like Jira and the technical information stored and tracked by it can sometimes be confusing and bewildering. Simplify your deliverables and provide technical support to the Project Manager while accessing the tool.

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