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Scrum Master vs Project Manager: Who Does What?

Ever wondered about the roles of a Scrum Master and Project Manager in today's fluid business environment? In this deep dive, we reveal who expertly steers the ship and who navigates through stormy waters. We demystify jargon, compare processes, and share knowledge – making the tech world accessible and intriguing.

What are the differences between a Scrum Master and a Project Manager?

Let's start with the roles. A Scrum Master is the team's coach, boosting their ability to use Scrum and improve their skills. They gently remind the team about deadlines and ensure the right processes are set for a project. On the other hand, a Project Manager is more of a boss and decision-maker. They are at the wheel, driving the project to completion and keeping the team on track.

The two positions have vastly different styles in which they communicate. The Scrum Master favors a facilitative and collaborative style, while the Project Manager tends to be more directive, offering clear, concise instructions. There is not a clear preference for the agile coach, it just depends on the type of task or project at hand.

Their tactics vary. A Scrum Master utilizes scrum methodologies like sprints and backlogs to push projects forward. Simplistically put, they're less about the grand plan and more about incremental progress. The Project Manager, contrarily, uses traditional project management techniques, taking a birds-eye view of the project and planning it from start to end.

The key takeaway is that a Scrum Master nurtures an environment where the team can thrive while a Project Manager plots the course and guides the team toward the common goal. Understanding these differences is vital – it's about figuring out what your project and team require to flourish.

How do time management responsibilities differ between a Scrum Master and a Project Manager?

Scrum Masters and Project Managers tackle time differently. A Scrum Master, glued to agile structures, guides the team's flow. They don't impose deadlines but instead let the team set its pace. On the flip side, a Project Manager operates on a strict schedule, mapping out the project timeline, and making sure each task gets done on time.

Scrum Master vs Project Manager: Who Does What?

Let's dive right into the roles and responsibilities of a Scrum Master and a Project Manager. To put it simply, a Scrum Master takes on a servant leadership position, enabling their team's progress in the Scrum framework. On the other hand, a Project Manager aims to oversee and handle every aspect of a project, from task delegation, ensuring that deadlines are met, to quality and cost control.

Scrum Masters focus on implementing and reinforcing the principles and practices of Scrum - a flexible, holistic, product development strategy They serve their team by removing any obstacles, facilitating communication, and assisting the team in reaching their sprint goals. The Scrum Master also protects the team from outside interruptions allowing them to focus on the work of the sprint. On the contrary, Project Managers plan, execute, and close projects. They work to balance the triple constraint - scope, schedule, and budget - in order to produce a high-quality product. This role can be more varied and broader than a Scrum Master role.

Moving on to the different communication styles of the two. A Scrum Master’s communication is usually channeled between the product owner and the development team. They make sure that both parties understand what is needed and expected. They also facilitate stand-up meetings, sprint planning, and reviews. A Project Manager often communicates with a larger network. Besides the team, they regularly connect with different stakeholders, vendors, sponsors, and possibly a steering committee. Communication is central for both roles but Project Managers deal with a larger set of stakeholders than Scrum Masters.

In terms of how they operate and their techniques. Scrum Masters operate within the Scrum framework, promoting and supporting the team as defined in the Scrum Guide. They are experts in Scrum, serve the team and the product owner, and also teach, coach, facilitate, and remove obstacles. Project Managers follow a more traditional route. They utilize techniques like Earned Value Management, Critical Path Method, Gantt charts, and PERT charts, just to name a few. They use these methods to control risks, manage scope changes, track tasks and resources, manage quality, and keep the project on track from start to finish.

On the training side of things, Scrum Masters are responsible for ensuring that everyone on the team understands Scrum. They train, coach, and guide the team as needed, to be effective with the method. Project Managers, on the other hand, might do some coaching but are not typically responsible for team training.

In terms of certification for a Scrum Master, the widely recognized certification is Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), offered by the Scrum Alliance. Project Managers often seek the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification offered by the Project Management Institute. Earning these certifications involves meeting the criteria, passing an exam, and commitment to ongoing professional development.

Remember, whether you're considering the role of Scrum Master or Project Manager, both are leadership roles that ultimately aim to deliver a successful end product. It comes down to identifying the framework that most resonate with you and the needs of the organization or project you aim to serve.


In this blog, we've explored the roles of Scrum Master and Project Manager, discussing key differences. At TLVTech, we understand the distinct skills and value these roles bring.

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