A Project Manager is as indispensable for an Agile team as is the Scrum Master. However, there have been some noticeable changes in the traditional roles of a Project Manager in the recent years, whereas the Scrum Master’s roles have remained more or less constant. With more number of companies embedding Agile practices in their frameworks, the existing roles of the Project Managers are being directly impacted, and are even wiped out in many cases.
So where are these Project Managers disappearing? Yes, they are being dispersed into other roles. Many of the Project Managers are even being found to take up the roles of Scrum Masters. This is more challenging than it sounds. A Project Manager turned Scrum Master should be wary of more than one pitfall.
Here are some of the traps in transition that can be avoided by a Project Manager who has recently assumed the role of a Scrum Master-
1) Responsibility to organize meetings-
Agile Manifesto principles believe in building projects collaboratively. Scrum Master arranges meetings for the teams whenever necessary. This is unlike a traditional Project Manager who used to be an administrative assistant to schedule meetings for everyone. Scrum and Agile give an importance to the individuals and interactions over the processes and tools.
2) Mistaking the ‘Daily Scrum’ as a ‘Status Update’ task-
Scrum Master arranges the ‘Stand-ups’ to communicate with the team members. The traditional Project Manager keeps track of everyone’s work to update the project plans and finding out the finishing dates. In Scrum, teams act as self-directing and accountable. So, after their transition to the Scrum Master’s role, the earlier Project Managers should be mindful about their perception of “daily scrum”. The point should be sledgehammered to the minds of these new Scrum Masters that daily scrum is only for the purpose of discussion and is not a status update task.
3) Being a ‘Scrum Master’ is the only job-
Scrum Master’s role should be multifaceted as an SM has to play the ideal servant-leader role. Also, his role keeps changing in some Agile teams. If any task is incomplete and the Scrum Master is capable of doing it, they should pick up and implement the task. Scrum guide states that “helping the development team to create high-value products”, is one of the services of the Scrum Master. Therefore while transitioning from Project Manager to the Scrum Master, it is important to keep in mind that Scrum Master is not a unidimensional role. It entails multiple aspects.
4) Improper Stakeholder Communication Management-
In Scrum, the progress is measured as a ‘working software per Agile Manifesto’. The issues are raised, analysed and solved by the team with an external help if necessary. The Scrum Master may not be able to manage the objective the team uses to collaborate. The required deliverables may be set already if there is a governing body such as a portfolio management group or a project management office. In such cases, Scrum Masters should spot the reality that issues are flexible and alter depending on the work committed by the team. Detailing out risks can be ignored, as they will be outdated within few days or even minutes.
Reasons to Switch from Project Manager to the Scrum Master role-
Let us have a look at the three key areas from where you can make out the decision on why the Scrum Master can be a great alternative for a typical project management environment-
1) The potentiality to focus on the current task:
During a project, the Project Manager has to discuss with the Client team and the Developer team to ensure the project goals. Being a Project Manager, it is very time-consuming and burdening as they have to ensure that the team is adhering to their own high standards.
Whereas, Scrum Masters set priorities and target depending on sprint cycle. Scrum Master always keeps an eye on the active sprint. Scrum framework reduces distractions and the stress of achieving several different goals simultaneously. Being a Scrum Master, it is very easy to manage the projects as the Scrum framework allows to-
2) Different ways to manage projects:
Mostly Project Managers spend much of their lives in:
Scrum methodology allows to solve queries by communicating with the team members. The team can resolve issues without the help of the Scrum Master and the issues which can’t be solved by the team can be raised during ‘Daily Scrum’. Scrum meetings last for 15 minutes. In those 15 minutes, the Scrum Master will come to know the project status and the roadblocks hindering the project success.
The Scrum method allows the teams to carry out communication by:
3) Prepare what the client like:
Clients keep project goals like- high ROI (return on investment), quality, reliability and higher lead conversion rates, before approaching any company. Along with the goals, clients want to know about the process and a collaborative relationship.
Project manager manages the timeline, limitations, and achievements. They decide on the future aspects of the processes. This method is difficult to manage and works smoothly through changing priorities and resources.
On the flip side, in Scrum method goals, priorities, and resources can be set during Sprint planning. Since Sprint lasts for 2-3 weeks, they set target within a timeframe which allows them to accomplish the target in time and with less errors. The Scrum Master, developers, and teams, all are allowed in the Scrum planning process, so everyone can discuss the process for achieving the client’s requirement. This method allows the client to get the regular status of the project and allows us to create an awesome product .
How your current Scrum Master role differs from that of your earlier Project Manager role-
While switching from traditional software development process (Waterfall model) to the Agile methodology, you may think that it is only about shifting from the Project Manager title to that of the Scrum Master. In reality, the transition is not as titular. The responsibilities of the Project Manager markedly varies from the Scrum Master roles. The responsibilities get split among the team members, viz. Product Owner, Scrum Master and the rest. For example, while the Scrum Master will be accountable for the features, the Product Owner will prioritize the processes, which will henceforth be supported by the team.
However, the overall switching from Project manager to the Scrum Master’s responsibilities is not an easy task. Let us have a look at the distinct responsibilities of these two roles:
Roles of the Project Manager:
Roles of the Scrum Master:
Now, let’s move on to the-
A quick caveat here! If you are a Project Manager currently serving as a Scrum Master, the striking similarities between the two roles should not confuse you. At no point in time can you let the two different role subsets overlap. It is highly recommended that you gain sufficient clarity on the new requirements and responsibilities before taking the big leap.
If you are planning to be a part of a seamless, error-free transition, a Certified Scrum Master training can help you streamline your tasks and of course, add one more feather to your career cap!
Transitioning from Project Manager to Scrum Master can be a challenge yet fun. You just need to be very careful. It is important to help with reflection and coaching so that the new Scrum Masters leave some habits behind. When it comes to transitioning to the Scrum Master role, you definitely cannot achieve everything overnight. The first vital step is to get laser-focused. Certifications, as we discussed earlier can be the best if not the only way to do it!
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