Maybe you are wondering …

  • What is the role of a project manager in a scrum team?
  • Is the scrum master the project manager?
  • Do I need a project manager in a scrum project?

Calm down. I will answer all these questions on this article.

When we talk about the functions in an agile project management, most agile processes – especially Scrum – do not have the figure of the project manager as we have it in the traditional model.

But, as every rule has an exception, you will find the position of project manager in the DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development Method). Unfortunately, DSDM is not the subject of this article.

So, answering the first question…

No, there is NO project manager in a scrum project.

A scrum team is organized with only three roles: the scrum master, the product owner and the development team. That’s it!!

Is the scrum master the project manager?

No, again. The scrum master and the project manager have different responsibilities

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I have seen many companies designate project managers to manage scrum teams. They are asked to develop a detailed plan, monitor costs and resources and provide a detailed ‘Gantt chart’ showing the project progress. Are they using scrum or what?

Adopting scrum require a new mindset. You cannot continue thinking in a traditional way and go to agile.

Now, you need to practice an AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

You will find a very interested article by Mike Cohn explaining what the Agile project management is.

And, if you really want to learn about agile project management, I strongly suggest you read this book by Ken Schwaber- Agile project management with scrum



As I said, in a scrum team, there’s only three roles (scrum master, product owner and development team). There’s no project manager, who is usually responsible for the success (or failure) of the project.

So, let’s make it clear:

Who is responsible for the project success in scrum?
The answer is: the whole team. The entire team is responsible for the success of the project, including the Product Owner.

If there’s no project manager, who will develop a detailed plan?
In scrum, there’s no detailed plan like in traditional projects. What we have is a list of features and activities that will be released / done during the sprint duration.

Who will negotiate the project scope with the customer?
The Product Owner is responsible for this. Moreover, the Product Owner is responsible to study the competitor’s products or services and suggest how to improve the product and add more value to the customer.

Who will control the project budget?
This is another thing that needs to change in scrum projects. In Agile, cost and time are fixed unlike the traditional way where cost and time are variable.

What about resources and task assignments? Who does that?
Again, the development team is expected to be self-organized

Can a project manager be a scrum master?
I would say, yes. But, not the inverse. A scrum master will have many challenges to work as a project manager.

The biggest challenge for a project manager to take over as a scrum master is to change his mindset about his responsibilities. The biggest challenge for a scrum master to act as a project manager is the lack of knowledge of traditional project management processes.

Can a project manager be a Product Owner?
From my point of view, this is the best path to follow if you are moving from traditional to agile. The Product Owner function has several similar elements with project management. The biggest challenge for the project manager would be to have the necessary knowledge of the business area or the product worked on.

Usually the project manager is not an expert in a specific business area, however, many managers develop a very in-depth knowledge of a business area after a long period working on their projects.



If you are a traditional project manager and are now wondering about your future, I would say don’t worry, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

First, agile/scrum does not fit on all projects (despite the disagreement of some agile evangelists).

Second, many projects are in a hybrid-mode (agile and traditional) especially in companies transitioning to agile mode.

Finally, it is never too late to make a career change and you can specialize as a scrum master or product owner.

Why don’t you start an agile scrum certification right now?

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