pm vs sm

Difference Between Project Manager and Scrum Master

Hey guys, Anatoly from Define Agile here.

The question that I got asked yesterday was: “Most often job postings are written as a Scrum Master/Project Manager. What is the main difference between Scrum Master and a Project Manager? How can you apply those two skillsets to fulfill the needs of the organization?”

That’s a great question. I see those postings up and then people say, “I need to be a Scrum Master and a Project Manager.” I’m here to tell you these are two very different roles. It’s the same as to say “I want to have QA/Developer,” you might think it’s the same but it’s definitely not.

Scrum Master is here to help and support  with the process. Scrum Master supports the Development Team while Project Manager is here to manage the project, making sure the project is on time, on budget, making sure the stakeholders are informed about how the process of creating projects or completing project. Scrum Master has nothing to do with that.

Usually when a person tries to fulfill both roles, I don’t find it successful. I find that Scrum Master and Project Managers are  on a different sides. They have different accountability. A Project Manager is accountable to external stakeholders or to upper management, while Scrum Master is accountable to Development Team. If one person has too many people he or she is accountable to, there’s a conflict of interest. So, I don’t recommend having a Project Manager and a Scrum Master being the same person.

As an option, which I talked about in “What is the Difference between Product Owner and Scrum Master,” I recommend having a developer to be a Scrum Master if you can’t find a dedicated Scrum Master. Because the developer is a part of the Development Team, developers have an interest of having their Development Teams happy.They are interested in having good process, because it benefits themselves.


Hope that helps!

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