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How Does a SAFe Scrum Master Differ From a Traditional Project Manager?

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

What is SAFe?

SAFe is a framework that helps an organization to implement Lean-Agile principles at large scale. Many important roles and responsibilities are involved in the SAFe framework to achieve the desired goal.


Roles in SAFe

The roles in SAFe are:


Who is a SAFe Scrum Master?

A SAFe Scrum Master is a professional who is accountable for implementation of Lean-Agile principles in an organization. The job role of a Scrum Master includes coaching their team so that the Scrum Methodology is followed properly. They are often referred to as a Servant-Leader as they are not the traditional team lead but still guide their members.


What are the responsibilities of a Scrum Master?

The responsibility of a Scrum Master is not confined to just implement the Agile Principles. Here is a list of all the responsibilities summoned to a Scrum Master:

  • Training and guiding the team about Agile and Lean Thinking.

  • Infuse the concept of self-management and cross-functionality in the team members.

  • Directing the focus of the team members to create high-value increments in order to meet the DoD.

  • Removing any obstacle that comes in the way of the team’s progress.

  • Helping the Product Owner in prioritizing and managing the backlog.

  • Communicating the product backlog items to the team clearly.

  • Collaborating with the stakeholders when required.

  • Resolving issues between the stakeholders and the team.

  • Leading the SAFe adoption in the organization.

  • Organizing Scrum Events.


What are the Scrum Artifacts?

In Scrum artifacts are referred to the documentation done for managing the work in the project. The Scrum Artifacts are as follows:

  • Product Backlog

  • Sprint Backlog

  • Increment

  • Extensions


Who is a Project Manager?

A Project Manager is a professional who plan and executes the projects in an organization. They lead the team towards the ultimate goal while removing any blockages in the way.


What are the responsibilities of a Project Manager?

The role of a Project Manager spreads across a wide spectrum from planning to empower the team members. Let us take a look at some of the common responsibilities of a Project Manager:

  • Planning the project.

  • Communicating the details with the team.

  • Collaborating with the project stakeholders.

  • Managing the team.

  • Dealing with the risks in the project.

  • Leading the team to maintain the project schedule.

  • Resolving the conflicts.

  • Communicate with the higher authorities.

  • Responsibly delivering the project after completion.

Comparison between SAFe Scrum Master and Project Manager

POINTS OF COMPARISON

SAFe SCRUM MASTER

PROJECT MANAGER

  1. Definition

A professional who is responsible for implementing Agile principles with the help of Scrum practices.

A professional who is responsible to plan, manage and execute a project in an organization.

2. Process type

Empirical

Defined

3. Authority

Over the Scrum process

Over the Project

4. Responsibilities

  • Guide the team throughout the process.

  • Collaborate with other teams.

  • Remove blockages.

  • Mentor the team about Scrum.

  • Plan the project.

  • Assign the tasks to the team.

  • Resolve issues to keep up the pace of work.

  • Communicate with the stakeholder.

  • Execute the planning efficiently.

5. Skills required

  • Good communication

  • Facilitator

  • Mentoring

  • Collaborative

  • Leadership

  • Supportive

  • Leadership

  • Communication

  • Collaboration

  • Interpreter

  • Managing skills

6. Hierarchy

Has to report to the Product Owner

Has to report to other authorities.

7. Required certifications

  • Certified Scrum Master

  • SAFe Scrum Master

  • SAFe Advanced Scrum Master

PMP or Project Management Professional


Conclusion

There are many responsibilities that a Scrum Master and Project Manager share to complete a project but the roles are not same. The skills required for both the job roles are different but the aim is to achieve the desired results. There are certifications that are required to take over the job roles. Acekube is one of the platforms that offer SAFe certifications for both the job roles and many more. They have a team of experienced coaches who can guide you to attain the certification.


FAQs


1. How does a Scrum Master support the product owner in backlog management and prioritization?

One of the core responsibilities of a SAFe Scrum Master includes helping the Product owner in backlog management. A Scrum Master knows all the details about the Agile Transformation and the approaches required to be successful so, he helps the Product owner with the techniques for effective backlog management. To survive in a complex environment they also establish empirical product planning. They prioritize the work according to the goal and urgency of it.


2. How does a Scrum Master help in managing the team’s workload and maintaining a sustainable pace?

A Scrum Master is the backbone of the team as they know all the requirements for Agile transformation. They prioritize the work and delegate the work according to the skills which makes it convenient for the team. They also communicate the backlog and artifacts clearly so that there is no confusion. Removing the blockages from the process helps to maintain the pace of the work.


3. What are some common challenges faced by Scrum Masters and how are they addressed?

Some of the common challenges faced by SAFe Scrum Master are:

  • Everything needs to be completed in a time frame.

  • The other team members do not have in-depth knowledge about Scrum so it gets difficult to work.

  • They are not leaders so sometimes it gets tough to guide the colleagues.

  • Resolving issues in time to maintain the pace of work is hard.