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Topics: Agile, Organizational Project Management, Scrum
Project manager vs scrum master - Difference? Roles? Abilities? Background?

I went the PMP route recently and know up and down about project managers, but I hadn't heard about scrum masters until I joined this forum. what's a scrum master to you? How do they differ from project managers? What roles and responsibilities do you believe scrum masters have and how do they differ from PMs?
Thank you everyone
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I waited for some experts in this area to reply:-) But I will give my 2 cents here.
Scrum Master per Scrum body of framework does only facilitation role- He is the one that creates roadmap, facilitate scrum meets(all) including daily stand ups.
PM on the other hand has the triple constraints under his management in agile as well, just like waterfall. Only difference should be in the way the numbers roll up in agile projects, meaning per sprint, per release by resource etc.
Yes, we need to have scrum masters, otherwise, the efficiency can't be achieved. Scrum has certain scope per sprint and if it is not achieved, it piles up and creates chaos at the end. All agile projects run on measure TTM or ROI which every org tries to achieve and for that an assigned scrum master role is vital.

The Project Manager and Scrum Master roles are not related. Organizations make a big mistake when they presume that one equates to the other.

Scrum is a framework for addressing complex problems and delivering products. The Scrum Master is, literally, the master of this framework who can mentor and facilitate for the team. Ideally, a scrum master works herself/himself out of a job as the team matures.

I don't have to tell you what a PM is, you already know that.

For anyone who is curious, I'd recommend downloading the Scrum Guide. It's online and it's only 17 pages long. If you want to transition to a Scrum framework, you should pay special attention to the Product Owner role. A PO is not a PM either (there is no PM role in Scrum, either in name or in practice), but you will probably find it easier to relate to the PO responsibilities rather than the SM.

I agree with Wade.

The Scrum master's focus is on the product. Yes, the SM will look at improving processes but only as it helps the following sprints.

Product is a big component of the project but not the only one.

As Wade already pointed out: read the scrum guide. You can find it here: It is only 17 pages, so anyone should be able to read the complete scrum guide.

It is important to understand the mindset of Agile and Scrum. If you only take the most visible meetings and documents of Scrum without the mindset you will not get real Scrum and you will not get the benefits of Scrum.

Part of what a good Project Manager does is to protect the team from organisational politics and from disturbances. A good Project Manager also invest in developing the skills and competence of the team and the individuals. These tasks will mostly be done by the Scrum Master in a Scrum process.

Part of what a good Project Manager does is to interact with stakeholders to prioritise the correct features in the product created by the project. This is (mostly) done by the Scrum Product Owner.

Part of what a traditional PMI Project Manager does is monitoring and controlling the progress and distributing tasks to project team members. This is done by the Scrum Team (not by a manager) in Scrum.

Thank you for the explanations. The word scrum takes me to my rugby playing days and having looked t the response to this great question I can see many sporting analogies. For example the scrum half or outside half in rugby are normally the play maker or scrum master. Overall it is a ten game where everyone has a role and the team has a goal.

This discussion is a very interesting one. From my point of view there is no “one-fits all” approach, especially for projects within my day-to-day focus: SAP Implementations.

In SAP implementations you have very adaptive areas, on the other side of the coin there are also area’s that a very predictive such as preparation and transformation for production. Looking at the SAP Activate Methodology, I understand that also SAP itself does see the need for hybrid project methodology approach where agility with scrum master, product owner etc. plays a vital role in the requirements analysis and development especially of differentiating processes that are not fully covered via the “traditional standard common processes”. This applies especially for the workplace digitization challenges within such projects.

In a nutshell, I do not see that scrum master and “traditional PM” do necessarily contradict itself in a project. From my point of view it depends on the type of projects and what fits best to the project success. Certainly, there are product and software projects outside there, where the pure “clean” scrum approach makes sense and is the most effective one, but there are also others where a hybrid approach is applicable.

I am also looking forward to read in the announced Agile Practice Guide what PMI’s standpoint is on such discussions.

My recommendation is going to the Software Extension to PMBOK. You will find the answer. On the other side in september you will have a better answer when Agile Practioners Guide will be delivered.

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