Is there room for a Project Manager in Agile?
Agile on its own does not define any roles. Scrum Master and Product Owner are Scrum roles, not Agile roles. Even within Scrum, duties often considered Project Manager duties still need to occur (Who is the Project Manager in Scrum?). Scrum doesn’t work for everything (It is intended for product management, not project management), and Agile often becomes a hybrid with waterfall projects; which can create a need for a Project Manager that understands Agile and Agile style leadership.
Many people will tell you there is no room for a Project Manager in Agile. Those people often take the word “Manager” to mean someone who controls the people and the project. Within Agile, we want the Project Manager to guide the team and the project, not control either of those. We want the Project Manager to be a servant-leader. That can still occur with a Project Manager title.
DSDM (DSDM Project Management Roles and Responsibilities) is an Agile framework that has a defined Project Manager role. The role is described below.
As well as providing high-level Agile-style leadership to the Solution Development Team, the role is focused on managing the working environment in which the solution is evolving. The Project Manager also coordinates all aspects of management of the project at a high level but, in line with the DSDM concept of empowerment, the Project Manager is expected to leave the detailed planning of the actual delivery of the product(s) to the members of the Solution Development Team. Managing an empowered team requires a facilitative style rather than a “command and control” style. – DSDM; Project Manager Description: (https://www.agilebusiness.org/content/roles-and-responsibilities)
So within Agile, the role of a Project Manager (or any manager if we are outside of a project) must evolve away from an authoritarian “command and control” style of leadership and become more facilitative. The manager must guide the project forward, but leave the key decisions on how the product gets completed to the people doing the work. They must empower the team to make decisions, and work to ensure the team has what it needs to do the job.
A team must start from somewhere/something. A team must have a purpose and that purpose must align with the business objectives. No business is going to pay you to do whatever you want all day. Within Scrum, the Product Owner often helps deliver that purpose and the Scrum Master helps develop the team. Within DSDM these duties fall to the Project Manager and Business Analyst.
The work still needs doing, what you call them matters little. The makeup who performs the work of a manager and how they go about doing it just needs to be changed. There will always be a need for managers in Agile (Do Managers Have a Place in Agile?), ideally, they do less management of work and more “managing of the working environment”.
Agile Project Management Books
- Agile Project Management with Kanban (Developer Best Practices)
- Agile Project Management: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Learn Agile Project Management Step by Step
- A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK(R) Guide-Sixth Edition / Agile Practice Guide Bundle (Pmbok Guide)
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