The difference between a scrum master and project manager

These two roles often get confused, but they are distinct and separate things. When people first learn about the concepts of Agile, they might think the roles sound similar but it’s important to understand the differences between the two roles, where some responsibilities overlap and how they can complement each other on big projects.

What are the differences?

Primarily a scrum master acts as a facilitator and coach. A project manager is responsible for the timeline of a project, the resources required for the project and insuring the results satisfy the needs of the business. A scrum master is more concerned about how successful the team is. This isn’t to say that a project manager cares little for the team, but a project manager might have multiple projects across the business to attend to, whereas a scrum master is more focused on just one.

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Within an Agile framework, the responsibilities of the project manager split between a number of different members of the team. The scrum master is then tasked with focusing on the process, while others focus on the product features, for example. For Scrum Master Training, visit

Typically, a project manager will:

Manage a budget

Report to leaders on progress

Be process oriented

Manage risk

Co-ordinate with other teams

Allocate jobs

Typically, a scrum master will:

Focus on serving the team where required

Remove obstacles to the project’s progress

Provides coaching

Monitors the progress of the sprint

Assists with estimates and speed

Promotes a continuous stream of communication

Facilitates scrum meetings and sprints

Improves team dynamics and motivates

Project management remains important for instances where big projects involve multiple dependent teams. They supply co-ordination, timelines and collaborate on resource requirements.

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Being a scrum master, however, revolves more around serving a specific team. Often, the responsibilities of the scrum master are not quantifiable as they are based on the changing daily needs of the team. However, there are more quantifiable elements where a scrum master’s skilled can be judged scientifically. When it comes to release and sprint planning, the scrum master must ensure that the team takes on the right amount of work and has the tools necessary to complete that work.

To conclude, a scrum master is the ideal tool to help encourage a team across the finish line of a project. The things that make a project successful are sometimes difficult to pinpoint, so it’s essential for a team to buy into the idea of how important a scrum master’s role can be and to identify their needs as soon as they come up.

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