What is the difference between a Scrum Master and a Project Manager?

Scrum Master and Project Manager are two terms that we come across in a project.  Those who are new to project management sometimes have questions regarding these terms: is it simply the same position with different titles? Or are they completely different roles? What is the difference between the two?

Some people understand that a Scrum Master is a Project Manager in an agile environment. This is only partially true. Both the Scrum Master and the Project Manager are involved in projects, but there are significant differences between these two roles.

Who is Scrum Master

Let’s take a closer look at the role of the Scrum Master.

By definition, the Scrum Master is a servant leader but not a manager. The main task of the Scrum Master is to teach the Scrum-team members how to interact with each other and with stakeholders of the project, as well as how to optimize the processes and how to increase their efficiency.

The mission of the Scrum Master is to create conditions for the emergence of a self-organizing team, then prevent it from extinguishing due to micro-management or overly rigid management.

Scrum Master’s responsibilities:

  • To act as a coach for the development team and encourage the team to take responsibility and organize themselves. In other words, to help the team become even more effective than they already are.
  • To ensure transparency and cooperation.
  • To create an atmosphere of trust.
  • To ensure that the team is not being distracted by impediments. If necessary, to act as a defender of the development team.
  • To understand the essence of agile and scrum-thinking and constantly learn while training others.
  • To maintain agile and scrum values and help others understand how to follow scrum values.
  • Facilitate ongoing scrum meetings.

Who is Project Manager

Now let’s take a closer look at the role and responsibilities of a Project Manager.

As defined in PMBoK, the Project Manager is the person appointed by the organization to lead the team and who is responsible for achieving the objectives of the project.

The Project Manager is responsible for the success or failure of the project. Typical responsibilities of a project manager include planning, executing and closing projects, as well as initiating a project, drawing up its scope and managing the budget.

Project Manager is responsible for:

  • Understanding the desired project results and ensuring their feasibility and measurability.
  • Ensuring sufficient resources needed to complete a project.
  • Understanding the key figure of each functional team that will perform the work and how they will be assigned to manage their work.

There are six required skills for Project Managers:

  • Communication (Did you know that a Project Manager spends more than 80 percent of his or her time on communication?)
  • Leadership;
  • Team management;
  • Negotiations;
  • Personal organization;
  • Risk management.

What do a Scrum Master and Project Manager have in common?

They both focus on the team’s performance and ensure ways to increase the team’s efficiency.

The Scrum Master serves and coaches, while the Project Manager helps to resolve conflicts and problems in a team.

Both roles are not empowered with decision-making authority. The Scrum Master assists the Product Owner in managing product backlog, while the Project Manager seeks approval from all stakeholders.

The Scrum Master and the Project Manager both require skills and experience to succeed in their role.

The Scrum Master and The Project Manager emphasize the importance of quality of work.

What is the Difference?

The essential difference is that the Scrum Master does not manage risk on his or her own. The Scrum Master is a leader who serves his team and encourages them to make independent decisions. The Project Manager has the right to take responsibility for risk management without asking the team.

The Project Manager creates work schedules for team members and assigns responsibilities. The Scrum Master is the coach of a self-organizing team. His task is to help the team determine its own schedules and responsibilities.


In summary, we see that the Scrum Master and the Project Manager have more differences than similarities.

Overall, the role of the Project Manager is more of a leader and manager, while the Scrum Master is more of a facilitator and coach.