Fitting In: Project Managers and Product Managers in Scrum Teams

There are no roles named Project Manager or Product Manager in Scrum, but many Organizations have people in these positions. This can cause confusion and questions about what happens to these people when an Organization moves to Scrum.

To frame our discussion, here are common definitions of the Project Manager and Product Manager positions:

  • The Project Manager is the person accountable to the Business for the Project’s objectives (including the Team’s Work Results), and
  • The Product Manager is the person accountable to the Business for delivery of the Product to the marketplace.

These may not be the definitions used in your Organization – and that’s ok – but all of the definitions we’ve seen include the notion that these are people who are accountable to management for delivering Results.



Because of this accountability for delivering Results, the only role they could play on a Scrum Team is that of Product Owner – since there can only be one Team Member accountable for the Team’s Work Results, and that person is the Product Owner. One specific consequence of this is that the Project Manager cannot be the ScrumMaster… unless the role of Project Manager is drastically redefined to explicitly exclude accountability for Work Results.

On a Scrum Team, the project management responsibilities are carried out by the Team itself, which includes the Product Owner and ScrumMaster. While project management traditionally includes managing both the Product and the Team, Scrum purposely splits these roles to avoid conflicting motivations and promote the health of the Team.

On a Scrum Team, the Project Manager (PM) role is essentially divided into two pieces, one focused on the Product and one focused on the Team. These two pieces are the Product Owner and ScrumMaster roles, respectively. Thus, we have the equation: PM = PO + SM.

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