Can A Project Manager Be An Effective Scrum Master?

We have frequently seen the titles of Project Manager and Scrum Master used mutually and reciprocally in the agile approach. Both of their roles are likely to get unclear in the current work and business environments. A Project Manager is the person who is directly liable for delivering a project in a specified timeframe and on a predefined financial plan and the final results of a projects success or failure depends mainly on the project manager’s potential and tasks such as sprint planning. Scrum Master is the forefront of the project’s team performance as he facilitates coaching and assisting the project’s progress based on the end user requirements. Both the roles sometimes overlap in the agile process as both contribute to the execution, planning, and closing of projects.

The Project Manager and Scrum Master both require a specific set of skills and the right approach to make things work transversely and altogether agile teams. The deliverables, responsibilities and tasks of both may differ from one business to another. It is essential to point out that both roles are very important to guide the team and to guarantee project achievement.

Transitioning from the role of Project Manager to Scrum Master and vice-versa is possible but can’t be attained immediately. It can be a tough journey but has its own perks. Both positions have a necessity of an in-depth understanding of diverse aspects of the business with short, as well as long-term goals, and one needs to have a great deal of attention and determination to deliver the crucial goals.

Introduction: What does a project manager do and what are PMs Responsibilities?

If you are going for a Project Management Certification, PMI – Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) course, then let’s see what a project manager does and what it takes to become a good project manager. A Project Manager is the person who is directly liable for delivering a project in a specified timeframe and on a predefined financial plan. So, to be a good project manager you will need to be an expert planner, with the right set of skills for organizing resources and people. All of the business partners or project’s stakeholders will look up to you (PMs), to make sure what was assured is in fact delivered in a timely and economical manner.

Project managers are responsible for day to day management tasks of the project and must be capable in managing the important criteria of a project, i.e. finance, schedule, scope, risk, resources and quality. Project managers work on particular projects that have specific outcomes which have timely and monetary limits.

Project manager’s duties mainly include but are not limited to:

  • Handling and modifying the project as and when necessary.
  • Monitoring the risks involved in a specific project and managing them.
  • Making certain the work is done to the right standard and quality.
  • Planning what needs to be done, prioritizing it and who is going to do it.
  • Taking care of coordination between teams.
  • Motivating the team.
  • Making sure the project is running in a timely and monetary way.
  • Making certain the project delivers the expected outcomes as projected.

How do Managers get involved in Agile Projects?

Both product owners and product managers are key players in the Agile environment, and are often crucial to the success of deployment. The purpose of product management is to work closely with product development and deal with the product requirements and direction based on customer feedback, market research, and growth ability. Product managers are often obscured in project management tasks associated with product launching rather than interacting with market influencers and customers to make the most viable product.

In the world of Agile development, there are supplementary roles which help to shift product managers out of the technical, tactical activities and into an outward-facing position where they interact and relate with the market. Though, it is not uncommon for product managers to take on the product owner’s task.

Agile product manager’s objective is to work with customers and company headship to define the product course. He (PMs) is responsible for representing the true voice of the customer. The best way to fully understand the customer’s problem(s) is to talk to customers, visit their sites, know their day to day business experience, and consult with their staff. By practicing this, a product manager will understand the customer’s day-to-today struggles and will be able to identify features and functionality that will improve user experience. Without direct interaction with customers, it is not possible to completely understand a customer’s needs and struggles.

In addition, a product manager’s responsibility varies from strategic activities, such as defining the product roadmap in arrangement with business objectives, to tactical actions that take place in sales, product support and marketing.

Scrum Master vs. Project Manager — what are the differences between them?

In Scrum, the most admired Agile methodology, the Scrum master is above all responsible for keeping the Scrum team focused and motivated, and also safeguards them from distractions and provides instruction and guidance. The product manager is responsible for creating and defining the user stories based on customer struggles, developing the product roadmap and carrying out market research. Here are some major differences:

  • Project manager manages the projects – scope, timeline and cost, in general quality of the project. A scrum master manages each scrum to reach the project goals.
  • A project manager can manage various projects at a time. A scrum master is generally paying attention to a specific project team.
  • Scrum master motivates the team members, assists in scrum meetings and sprint planning. Project manager manages the financial plan and analyzes risk management.
  • Project managers focus on process and assign tasks to the team members.  Scrum master assists to develop team dynamics and acts as a servant leader if needed by the project.
  • Scrum master is the facilitator and guides the product owner on the other hand project manager is a communicator between the team members and the management team.
  • Project manager updates the management about the project progress and coordinates with other teams. Scrum master helps in increasing the team bonding and motivates the team members.

Conclusion: Can an experienced Project Manager be an effective Scrum Master?

Every Agile organization is not the same and as a result, roles will differ. It is not unusual for an organization transitioning from Waterfall to Agile to simply change product managers to product owners. Though, this does not show a good product manager will become a good product owner or vice versa. Relatively, what works for one business may or may not work for another and it is probable that as the business and product grows, the tasks and duties will as well.

The project manager and the scrum master are not two separate entities. The role of a project manager develops as a scrum master. The objective of a project manager is to complete a project fruitfully within a predefined timeframe and budget. With the introduction of the agile method, the involvement of a project manager increases. In agile project management, the division of the roles and responsibilities are person specific. So, the role of a project manager as a scrum master is now more firm, precise, and to the point. In an agile methodology, the emphasis of a project manager is not limited to the entire project but as a scrum master, it is; every scrum that needs to be successful. This new point of view makes it more meticulous and qualitative to achieve success.