Scrum Master vs Project Manager: What's The Difference?

by Rahulprasad Hurkadli

The roles of Scrum Master and Project Manager are often discussed in the context of project management, but they have distinct differences in their approach, responsibilities, and the frameworks they operate within. Understanding these differences is crucial for organizations and individuals looking to effectively manage projects and teams.

Scrum Master vs Project Manager: What's The Difference?


In this article, we will explore the key distinctions between a Scrum Master and a Project Manager, shedding light on their roles, focuses, and the methodologies they typically employ. By gaining clarity on these contrasting perspectives, readers will be better equipped to determine which role suits their project management needs and goals.

Understanding the Difference Between Scrum Master and Project Managers

Scrum master’s and Project Managers are two different roles that are often found in software development projects. While both roles involve overseeing the progress of a project, there are some key differences between them. Here are a few:

  • Focus: Scrum Master is focused on facilitating the scrum process, including meetings, ceremonies, and the adoption of scrum principles to help the team work together effectively. Project Managers, on the other hand, are focused on delivering the project within a set scope, timeline, and budget.
  • Responsibilities: Scrum Masters aim to remove any barriers that may prevent the team from working efficiently and safeguard the scrum process to ensure it continues to work. Project Managers on the other hand, are responsible for managing the team and ensuring the project is completed on time, within scope and budget.
  • Methodology: Scrum Masters follows agile scrum methodology where there is an iterative and flexible approach to the development process. Project Managers use traditional methodologies such as Waterfall, where projects are planned in stages, and each stage must be completed before moving on to the next.
  • Communication: Scrum Masters prioritize open communication among the team members and members of other teams working on a project. Project Managers, on the other hand, communicate with stakeholders, clients, and team members to keep everyone up to date on project progress.

While there are differences between Scrum Masters and Project Managers, their roles can overlap in some ways. A successful project often requires good communication and collaboration, regardless of the title of the person leading the project.

The Roles of a Scrum Master

  • Facilitator - The Scrum Master acts as a facilitator to ensure that the Scrum meetings, events, and ceremonies happen smoothly. They also provide guidance to the team towards achieving their sprint goals.
  • Coach - The Scrum Master coaches and mentors the team and encourages them to follow the Scrum framework. They help the team understand the benefits of Agile and Scrum practices and guide them towards becoming self-managing.
  • Servant-Leader - The Scrum Master is a servant-leader who helps the team remove impediments and roadblocks. They also ensure that the team has a conducive environment to work in and that all team members are motivated, productive and engaged.
  • Process Observer - The Scrum Master observes the Scrum process and ensures that it is being executed properly. They identify and address any dysfunction in the team, and work with the Product Owner to ensure that there is cohesion between the development team and the business stakeholders.
  • Facilitator of Communication - The Scrum Master facilitates communication between the Development Team, Product Owner, and other stakeholders. They also ensure that the team communicates effectively within themselves and that all team members are aware of what is happening in the project.

The Roles of a Project Manager

  • Planning: A project manager is responsible for creating a project plan that outlines the scope, goals, tasks, timelines, resources, budget, and risks of the project. The plan should be created with input from all stakeholders and should be updated throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Communication: Project managers must communicate effectively with all stakeholders including team members, sponsors, clients, suppliers, and vendors. They should ensure that everyone is aware of project progress, risks, issues, and changes.
  • Resource Management: Project managers are responsible for identifying, acquiring, and managing resources required for the project, including team members, equipment, materials, and tools.
  • Risk Management: A project manager must identify potential risks that could affect the project and develop a risk management plan to minimize their impact.
  • Budget Management: A project manager is responsible for managing the project budget and ensuring that the project is delivered within the agreed budget.
  • Quality Management: A project manager must define the quality expectations for the project deliverables and ensure that they are met.
  • Deadline Management: A project manager must ensure that the project is completed within the agreed timeline and deadlines.
  • Leadership: A project manager must motivate and lead the project team to achieve project goals successfully.
  • Problem-Solving: A project manager must be able to anticipate, identify, and solve problems when they arise during the project lifecycle.
  • Continuous Improvement: A project manager should evaluate the project outcomes, identify lessons learned, and suggest ways to improve future projects.

Which One is Right for Your Project?

Scrum Master:

A Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the Scrum framework is implemented correctly. Scrum is a subset of Agile methodologies that focuses on iterative and incremental development. The Scrum Master facilitates the Scrum events, including the sprint planning, daily scrum meetings, sprint review meetings, and sprint retrospective meetings. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that the team is working together and collaborating effectively.

Identify the major deliverables: Determine the primary outputs or deliverables of the project. Break these down into manageable components that can be further divided into smaller deliverables.

Project Manager:

A Project Manager is responsible for managing the project and ensuring that it is completed on time, within budget, and with the desired quality. They create a project plan and organize the project team to execute the plan.

They are responsible for managing the project schedule, budget, scope, and resources. Additionally, they are responsible for mitigating risks and resolving issues that arise during the project's lifecycle.


In conclusion, Scrum Master and Project Manager are two different roles in Agile methodology. Scrum Master is responsible for facilitating and guiding the team to achieve the project goals, while Project Manager ensures the project is delivered within the scope, budget, and timeline.

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