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Scrum Master Vs. Project Manager: What are the Differences?

In the age of digitization, Agile development has taken center stage regarding software development. More and more developers worldwide are adopting Agile methodologies to build robust and responsive software.

Every software development project needs extensive planning and seamless execution. To ensure that a project is brought to fruition, you need a leader responsible for guiding their team members towards a common goal.

Whenever leaders in software development projects are talked about, Project Managers are the first people that come to one’s mind. However, with the increasing popularity of Agile development, people have started replacing Project Managers with Scrum Masters. In many cases, the two terms are also used interchangeably.

While both leadership positions have many similarities, it is important to understand the subtle differences between them.

Before we get to the specifics of Project Manager vs. Scrum Master , let us briefly understand who the two leaders are.

Who Is A Scrum Master? What Do They Do?

As the name suggests, a Scrum Master is a leader in a software development project who is responsible for ensuring that his team implements the Scrum principles effectively throughout the course of the project. They manage the project by looking at it from the lens of Scrum development.

They are responsible for holding team meetings and training their team members to help them understand the best Scrum practices , encouraging them to use the same in the projects. Along with the Product Owner and the development team, Scrum Masters strongly support Scrum development projects.

Here are some of the major tasks performed by Scrum Masters:

  • Organizing meetings for daily stand-ups, regular reviews, and sprint planning
  • Identifying and resolving issues related to Scrum development
  • Ensuring that every member of the team works in complete coordination while following Scrum practices

Who Is A Project Manager? What Do They Do?

A Project Manager is a leader responsible for organizing the team and ensuring that the projects are executed as planned. They are accountable for leading team meetings, managing budgets, conducting review sessions, and managing risks involved with the projects they are assigned.

Here are some of the major tasks performed by a Project Manager:

  • Clearly defining the scope and objectives of a project
  • Maintaining seamless communication between different stakeholders
  • Charting out budgets
  • Scheduling the project and ensuring that the team sticks to the schedule
  • Creating a robust communication plan

Project Manager Vs. Scrum Master: What Are The Differences?

Now that we are clear about the positions held by a Scrum Master and a Project Manager, let us have a look at the key differences between the two:


A Project Manager’s scope is much wider compared to that of a Scrum Master. A Scrum Master’s influence, responsibility, and authority are limited to a Scrum development project. They monitor Scrum teams and coach their members on Scrum practices.

On the other hand, a Project Manager can work on any development project, with or without Scrum. Moreover, Project Managers are more concerned with the logistics of their projects, such as budgeting, risk management, etc.

Quality Assurance

A Scrum Master is responsible for ensuring that the quality of a Scrum development project meets the pre-defined standards set during the planning stage. In the case of issues arising out of inadequate quality, they are equipped to troubleshoot the problems and raise the quality standards of the concerned software product.

While a Project Manager is also concerned with ensuring the quality of the software projects built, they may not always be equipped with the ability to achieve the desired quality themselves. Their role is more managerial. When fixing errors, they often hire dedicated consultants to get the work done.


In most cases, Scrum Masters have higher salaries than Project Managers. While their roles and responsibilities overlap, Scrum Masters are paid more because they need to possess specialized knowledge of Scrum development. They are trained in thoroughly understanding and using the Scrum methodology to provide their clients with expertise.

Project Managers, on the other hand, are Jacks of all trades. While they occupy a high position in the hierarchy, they are often not required to be subject matter experts regarding a specific technology, methodology, or programming language.

Roles and Responsibilities

Here are some of the key roles played and responsibilities shouldered by Scrum Masters :

  • Resolving barriers and controlling the Scrum processes in a project
  • Making the team members aware of the important Scrum practices and teaching them how to use the same
  • Facilitating the Scrum ceremonies
  • Making sure that a Scrum project is running smoothly with the help of the right tools
  • Executing the Product Backlog according to the prioritization of the Product Owner
  • Resolving conflicts arising within the team and ensuring smooth execution of Scrum projects
  • Performing specific project tasks themselves in the case of emergencies

Now, let’s have a look at some of the key roles and responsibilities of Project Managers :

  • Creating plans and preparing budgets for the projects they work on
  • Working with the upper management regarding the scope and direction of the projects
  • Working with other departments in case of emergencies or planned collaborations
  • Motivating the team members with effective communication skills

Looking at the similarities between Project Managers and Scrum Masters , it is easy to confuse the two regarding software development. However, it is important to understand that while a Scrum Master is specialized in handling Scrum development projects, a Project Manager can work on many different projects.

While a Scrum Master can take up the roles and responsibilities of a Project Manager as long as they work on a Scrum project, a Project Manager will need to get trained in Scrum to take up the position of a Scrum Master. While the two leaders may complement each other, the titles should not be used interchangeably.

Originally published at on December 13, 2022.

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