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Difference Between Agile Project Manager and Scrum Master

Agile Project Manager vs. Scrum Master

Amateur agile teams are often seen to associate the responsibilities of the agile project manager with the Scrum Master. What? are these two separate? We don’t have a role called Agile Project Manager in Scrum. You may hear all kinds of responses, but it is equally valid that there is a role called Agile Project Manager, and it has nothing to do with Scrum.

It’s essential to understand the fundamental difference between the two to clear doubt and better understand.

Scrum Master

It may appear from the outside that the role of a scrum master is limited compared to that of an agile project manager. But there is no role called Agile Project Manager in Scrum. Scrum Masters are not there to lead a team but to be part of a Scrum Team. They are accountable for upholding Scrum and enabling an effective Scrum Team. The scrum master cannot be the sole decision-maker during the process. They are supposed to work within the team. Team members, including Scrum Master, are expected to reach out to decisions in case of any conflict. The scrum master works collaboratively with the product owner and the developers. As a result, they are exposed to both the perspectives of the project and best understand the product requirements.

The Responsibilities Of The Scrum Master

  • They are responsible for making the team familiar with the Scrum framework at the earliest stage of the Scrum adoption.
  • They are responsible for coaching the team on the scrum principles.
  • They are responsible for facilitating sprints, retrospectives, and other scrum events when requested/needed.
  • They are responsible for answering team members’ queries and encounter confusion at every level of the process.
  • They are responsible for counteracting any hindrance or obstruction in the product’s functioning.
  • They are responsible for ensuring direct communication between the developers and the product owner. This ensures that the product requirements are met without major impediments.
  • They are responsible for providing suitable aid to the product owner to handle product backlogs.
  • They are responsible for making the product owner learn the basics of increasing business value for an agile user story.

Agile Project Manager

It is safe to say that the same person can perform as an agile project manager and a scrum master if they’re efficient in project management. Remember that there is no Agile Project Manager role in Scrum, but that doesn’t mean this role doesn’t exist in other frameworks. For example, there is a role of Project Manager in DSDM (Dynamic System Development Method) that looks similar to Scrum Master in Scrum. In simpler words, an agile project manager in DSDM handles the project’s complexity. By reading the role of Project Manager in DSDM, A scrum master’s job looks less complicated than a project manager’s. An agile project manager handles a broader array of possibilities with increased risks. They are not entirely dependent on the team to approve ideas.

On the contrary, they’re expected to be efficient in decision-making and problem-solving processes. They certainly possess leadership skills to grasp the maximum benefits out of the project. Their role can be better understood by looking at their responsibilities in an agile project management framework.

Responsibilities of an Agile Project Manager

  • Ensuring effective and timely communication and provision of information to project governance authorities (Business Sponsor, project board, steering committee, etc.) and stakeholders not actively engaged in the project with the agreed and appropriate level of frequency and formality
  • Performing high-level project planning and scheduling, but not detailed Timebox planning or task planning
  • Collaborating with the Solution Development Team and other appropriate stakeholders to create and agree with the Delivery Plan (the schedule of Project Increments and the Timeboxes within them)
  • Monitoring progress against the baselined Delivery Plan
  • Managing risk and any issues as they arise, collaborating with senior business or technical roles as required to resolve them
  • Motivating and ensuring empowerment of the teams to meet their objectives
  • Monitoring and ensuring appropriate involvement and communication between required members of the multi-disciplinary Solution Development Team
  • Handling problems escalated from the Solution Development Team.
  • Providing help and guidance to the Solution Development Team where difficult situations arise
  • Attending stand-up meetings, as appropriate, to keep a current understanding of the team’s progress and issues, and to flag up to the team, where necessary, any important external issues that that team need to be aware of

Source — https://www.agilebusiness.org/page/ProjectFramework_07_RolesResponsibilities

Difference Between Agile Project Manager and Scrum Master

Scrum has the role of Product Owner besides the role of Scrum Master, whereas DSDM doesn’t have the role of Product Owner. Reading the responsibilities of a Project Manager in DSDM gives the feeling that the Project Manager is playing the role of Scrum Master and Product Owner together. But we have to look at the purpose of these frameworks and core construct to understand them better. Scrum doesn’t talk about project management concepts, and it focuses on solving a complex problem that may lead to designing new services or developing a product. Product Backlog is not a final list of requirements because requirements keep emerging as the Scrum team learns more about users’ needs and wants. DSDM gives the feel of having complete requirements upfront with clear scope and timeline, but development takes place in iterations. Comparing these two roles from two different frameworks doesn’t make sense. The same person can play these roles depending on the need and selection of framework.

Final Wrap-Up

The roles of the scrum master and the agile project manager are different but not poles apart. The former works as a core team member on a higher level, while the latter leads the team at various stages. This doesn’t make anyone inferior or superior to the other. On the contrary, a collective approach determines the success of a project and product. Both positions require more than just theoretical knowledge in Scrum and agile. Experience is the foremost factor that decides whether they are efficient.

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