Scrum Master is not a project manager

scrum master not project manager
scrum master not project manager

We will never repeat it enough but the Scrum Master is not a project manager but a person in the service of the team to help it to be better. We will analyze the differences between the two roles to understand well why these roles are very different.

The technical project manager

The technical project manager is the person in charge of managing an IT project so that its running is smooth with a team of developers that he has in charge; he animates this team for the duration of the project. This project manager will have technical and project management skills to manage an IT project; a good relationship is also better.

Here are the main tasks that the project manager must handle:

  • technical feasibility study and product design (specifications)
  • ensure communication with other external teams
  • plan the work of his collaborators
  • will guarantee the conformity of deliveries

We could add other tasks but I tried to simplify as much as possible.


Scrum Master

Here is the main skills for a scrum master:

  • a coach
    • guardian of good practice
    • trainer in scrum
  • a facilitator
    • facilitate the outside team to adapt to Scrum
    • remove disturbances
    • team doctor
  • a ritual animator

indeed in some contexts, the scrum master may  have complementary roles but being careful to maintain his neutrality on the product itself.

Here is an article if you want to know more about the role of scrum master.

Article : The role of Scrum Master

Why is the Scrum Master not a technical project manager?

We will see different points that show why the role of project manager and scrum master are different.

Technical responsibility

The Scrum Master has no objective towards the product, whether on the functional or technical aspect, contrary to the technical project manager who is 100% guarantor of the technical quality.

In Scrum, it is the developers who become together the guarantor of technical excellence. The Scrum Master will only intervene to propose solutions to go towards technical excellence in case of failure on the part of the development team.

Its daily help actions will indirectly contribute to the technical or functional excellence of the product.


Communication with the outside teams

If the scrum master have to create a real communication with all the actors related to the product on which his team works, this communication will be in order to bring these actors to understand the methodology, to approach the team …

The Scrum Master doesn’t support external communication for the purpose of making technical decisions; this communication in scrum is reserved for the development team.


He doesn’t plan work

In Scrum, the planning is realized on two levels (levels can be added to the program level in very large projects):

  • the sprint prioritization, release prioritization and even roadmap at the Product Owner level
  • the developers will choose the requests themselves in those proposed by the Product Owner at the start of the sprint.


No responsibility on the content of deliveries

The scrum master will not be guarantor of the functional or technical aspects of deliveries, unlike a project manager. He will do his best to ensure that quality is there by coaching the teams with the implementation of continuous improvement practices; but he will have no responsibility for the deliveries.


Conclusion scrum master vs project manager

As you can see, the two roles are very different evens opposite. Although the evolution seems logical from the technical project manager to scrum master at this time is not true ; some technical project managers can’t become scrum master because they haven’t the mindset for that.

Some people never get to do this transition and keep reactions of “command and control” when they are not accompanied in this transition, .

However some project managers consider like the scrum master that the human side is important for the productivity of the teams; but these common points that are not systematic depend on the vision of the management of each project manager.


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About Judicaël Paquet 190 Articles
Judicaël Paquet (agile coach and senior devops) My activities in France and Switzerland: - agile transformation architect - customized agile training - sensitization and manager coaching - agile maturity audits and situations - agile coaching (teams, orga, product owner, scrum master, agile coach) Specialties: scrum, kanban, management 3.0, scalability, lean startup, agile method.

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