Monday, November 18, 2013

Project Manager Role in Agile Development

Agile project management often puts the traditional project manager in a difficult position. He or she is told, for example, to make scope/schedule tradeoff decisions knowing that a product manager or customer might second-guess those decisions if the project goes poorly.

Agile acknowledges this difficult position, and distributes the traditional project manager's responsibilities. What is agile about this new paradigm is that many of these duties, such as task assignment and day-to-day project decisions, revert back to the team, where they rightfully belong.

Responsibility for scope and schedule tradeoff goes to the product owner. Quality management becomes a responsibility shared among the team, a product owner and ScrumMaster. Other traditional tasks are distributed as well among a team’s agile project management roles.

In a very large agile project with 200 to 500 – even 1,000 people, we must introduce more points of coordination and agile project management than small-scale implementation.

To coordinate the work of many teams, larger projects sometimes include the role of a traditional "project manager." While involving someone on the project with this title or background can be very helpful, we need to be careful of the baggage associated with the project manager title.

Even on a very large agile project, the team will still do much of the project management. For example, teams decide how to allocate tasks, not a project manager; so the project manager role becomes more of a project coordinator.

Duties would include allocating and tracking the budget; communicating with outside stakeholders, contractors and others; maintaining the risk census with guidance from the teams, ScrumMasters and product owners; and so on. This is a true agile project management role.