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5 Tips for Scrum Masters: Collaborating with Project Management for success in a transforming landscape

August 9, 2023
insights and collaboration


Imagine standing before a room filled with Project Management professionals at a conference, sharing insights gained from your experience. As you deliver your speech, you realize that Scrum and Project Management, despite their apparent differences, face a myriad of common challenges. This revelation sparks a deeper understanding of how these challenges unite the two methods. During a dinner conversation after the conference, you further discover that PMO (Project Management Office) can support you in leading an Agile transformation and successful Scrum adoption, by covering governance and ensuring alignment across the enterprise. 

In this article, we will explore some tactics which I found valuable when I was in need to align Scrum with Project Management practices. 

1. Diligently Define and Communicate Goals

To bridge the gap between plans and business outcomes, organizations must thoughtfully define and clearly communicate goals. Well-defined goals provide focus by reducing noise and creating a shared understanding, while empowering teams to work towards achieving them. Effective goal communication ensures coordination and avoids misalignment.

For instance, a company aiming to enhance customer satisfaction might see the Scrum Team setting a Product Goal: Increase customer satisfaction by 10% within six months through customer feedback-driven improvements.

2. Foster Trust and Autonomy

The Scrum Master plays a key role in creating an environment of trust and autonomy which are crucial for success in Scrum and Project Management. Organizations should cultivate trust and empower individuals to take ownership of their work. Trust encourages open communication, collaboration, and cross-functional cooperation, resulting in higher-quality products and increased customer satisfaction. Autonomy allows teams to adapt and foster creativity and problem-solving skills.

For instance, establish the expectation that all Scrum team members' opinions are valuable and should be treated with respect, regardless of seniority or experience.

3. Embrace a Holistic View and Manage Dependencies

Both Scrum and Project Management face challenges in adopting a holistic view and managing dependencies. Organizations often have trouble recognizing how different initiatives are linked, which can result in inefficiencies and delays.

By embracing a holistic view, organizations can proactively address dependencies, reducing disruptions and maximizing value creation. Collaboration and a shared understanding of the product, service, or value creation process landscape are crucial.

For example, to foster a shared understanding of the project landscape, techniques for visualizing dependencies can be utilized, such as dependency mapping or dependency matrices. More ideas (e.g. Cross-Team Refinement) can also be found in the Nexus Guide.

4. Strengthen Communication Structures and Governance

Weak communication structures and governance hinder the success of both Scrum and Project Management. Ineffective communication leads to reduced transparency and misunderstandings, delays, and reduced productivity. Organizations should promote transparency by establishing clear communication channels and encourage open and frequent communication among team members.

Strong governance streamlines the governance process, assuring adherence to processes, effective risk management, and timely decision-making. It might include things like governance reviews, clear escalation channels, and decision-making authorities. Strengthening communication structures and governance enhances collaboration and fosters a culture of accountability.

5. Scrum and PMO: A Synergistic Relationship

It's important to note that Scrum and PMO do not have to be mutually exclusive. While Scrum focuses on agile delivery at the product or service level, PMO (which fits what Scrum refers to as Management) can play a valuable role in supporting the portfolio and program levels of an organization.

For instance, a Scrum Master can actively collaborate with the PMO to leverage their strengths and align long-term objectives. Facilitating discussions with the PMO can help shift their focus from "project" to "product" thinking. This shift involves respecting the Product Owner's decisions on the product, while also moving away from traditional metrics like time and budget, and instead emphasizing the value delivered.

Moreover, the Scrum Master can influence the broader Project Management approach within the organization to embrace Scrum practices like servant-leadership and empowered teams. This includes adapting the governance structure to harmonize with self-managing teams, maintaining a balance between project oversight and granting team autonomy.


In today's dynamic business landscape, Scrum and Project Management can overcome shared challenges. By diligently defining and communicating goals, fostering trust, embracing a holistic view, managing dependencies, and forming synergistic relationships between Scrum and PMO to focus on value and outcomes, organizations can achieve successful results. Embracing these challenges as growth opportunities further enhances organizational success.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Create a list of company objectives and see how they relate to the Product Goal you’re working on. (You do have an active Product Goal, right?)
    Advocate for the collaborative definition and communication of goals, involving stakeholders and management.
  2. Make conscious efforts to create a safe space for work and facilitate that management provides autonomy to the Scrum Teams. Foster trust, autonomy, and a culture of collaboration within the team.
  3. Embrace a holistic view, proactively manage dependencies, and communicate effectively. Include the organizational and cross-team dependencies in your impediment list.
  4. Establish strong communication structures and governance to enhance collaboration and decision-making.
  5. Partner with the PMO, they are your key stakeholder. Collaborate with them to promote Scrum and gain support for agile transformations, including goal definition and self-managing teams.

By implementing these insights, you can navigate the intersection of Scrum and Project Management, ensuring successful collaboration and maximizing the benefits of Scrum in such a setup.

Reflecting on your own experiences, what strategies and practices have you employed as a Scrum Master to ensure effective alignment between Scrum and Project Management in your organization?

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