Difference between Scrum Master and Project Manager

As agile and scrum increase in popularity, the question arises, “what is the difference between a scrum master and a project manager?” From an outsiders point of view it may seem that both roles are pretty similar, but there are very distinct differences between the two. A scrum master works on agile projects in a scrum environment following scrum principles. While project managers typically work in a more “traditional” work environment following project management processes including waterfall.

There are many duties that a project manager performs that are no longer necessary when working in a scrum environment. Primarily, they will be ordering less and supporting more. They step down as a boss and become part of the team. Instead of directing or having authority over the team, they hand over all responsibility to the team and practice servant leadership. For example, they will take a step back and allow the team to take ownership of their commitments. They do not have to make timelines or assign tasks, they give the team the power to organize themselves and their work.

As a scrum master, you facilitate the scrum processes and make sure everyone is doing what they have agreed on doing, scrum. You encourage team work and self organization amongst the group. Allowing the team to create their own work flow and dynamic will empower them to feel proud of their work. A scrum master also supports the team by removing any obstacles during the sprint. They act as a couch and support the team in finding solutions to their problems instead of resolving them.

In the end, a scrum master has a more laid back approach in the work environment when compared to a project manager. They have less responsibilities as they give the power to the team and allow them to be in control of their work. They are more concerned with creating a positive functioning environment rather than creating systems with tons of procedures and rules.



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