The difference between scrum master and project manager

Mpg Scrum Master And Project Manager 1920
15 February 2024 by Experis
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Looking for a new challenge in the IT sector? No matter whether you’ve just completed your degree in computer science or have already worked in the IT sector as a project manager for a few years, you can take your career to the next level with further training to become a certified scrum master.

We’ll show you which requirements you should meet for working as a scrum master, what the differences are between a scrum master and project manager and what benefits further training and certification offer you.

What is a project manager?

The project manager is responsible for ensuring that all project goals are achieved. This is done by working with business and technical expertise to identify requirements and suitable solutions to satisfy them. The work to achieve these goals is documented in a plan, which the project manager then monitors to ensure the project remains within defined boundaries of time, cost and quality. The project manager’s role also includes goal setting, risk and issue management, scope management, budgeting and communication with customers and stakeholders. Schedules and reports also fall within their remit, which are used to control and monitor progress performance.

What is scrum and what does a scrum master do?

Scrum is an agile team collaboration framework commonly used in agile software development. It provides guidance via role definitions, processes, ceremonies and artefacts, to help self-organising teams deliver incremental product-value.

Each scrum team consists of a scrum master, a product owner (who represents the customer’s interest) and a development team, which consists of all skills required to develop the product. Unlike conventional projects where the project manager directs and controls all processes, there is no hierarchical structure in scrum teams. Each scrum member works collaboratively with their fellow team members to deliver product value on a regular cadence. Performance is not measured by actuals versus plan, but rather customer satisfaction of the product being produced. Importantly, the whole team is held accountable for performance rather than one individual.

The scrum master is a kind of coach to the scrum team and acts more as a trainer and mentor rather than a manager.

  • They support both the project owner and the development team to make sure that all processes run exactly according to the values of scrum to achieve the best possible efficiency.

  • The scrum master ensures employee motivation, makes sure that their colleagues can work without disruption and settles (internal) conflicts.

  • They also lead all scrum ceremonies and note down feedback and suggestions to improve and further optimise workflows.

What’s the difference between a scrum master and a project manager?

If you’re not familiar with agile projects, the role of scrum master might seem very similar to that of project manager. However, this is not the case.

The main differences between scrum masters and project managers

  • Scrum masters work exclusively in scrum environments with scrum teams, while project managers can be employed in any type of project or team – whether that’s agile software development, infrastructure delivery, business change or transformation initiatives.

  • Scrum masters ensure that the scrum team is successful through application of the scrum framework. They act as coaches or assistants, whereas project managers are primarily concerned with the parameters of a project, such as meeting deadlines, keeping to budget, managing scope and monitoring progress versus plan.

  • Experience in scrum is expected in many job ads for project managers. On the other hand, a scrum master does not have to have worked as a project manager before; a lateral entry is also possible.

Many project managers get into this position through appropriate training and certification as a scrum master. The Experis Academy offers comprehensive training for IT professionals in project management as well as specialisation as a certified scrum master.

Project management roles at Experis

At Experis, we have opportunities for project managers and scrum masters with some of the UK’s top tech employers. We can even support IT professionals, project managers and career changers with experience and training as scrum masters. Ready to look for your next opportunity? Check out our project management roles now.