Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Will Scrum scare away the PM .. I say BIG NO

Recent past this has been a very painful discussion in many organizations moving towards Agile.. What are we to do with our PM? Is he/she going to be a Product Owner, Scrum Master or will work as the developers of the team with his skills of development , testing etc. ? All that is fine.. But don’t forget about the Planning, Leadership, Risk Management and Project knowledge what your PM has gained over the years which is really helpful even in a scrum team for a medium to large scale projects. I understand there is no logic in converting PM to Scrum Master unless he understands and capable of playing this “servant based leadership” (they call it ) role.
Look at the following Scenario what we need to do when following a scrum project from top to bottom,

Product Vision -Themes -Values -Roadmap -Release plan -User stories -Product backlog - Sprint Backlog - Daily Scrum

Most the early stage work is the main responsibility of the product owner, however when you look at making release plans based on business values, budgets, stakeholder requirements, PO needs lots of support from the team as well as support from an experienced project manager would be invaluable. PM comes with lots of experience in foreseen risks, keeping team together with good spirit, protecting team from outside disturbances, being visionary about the project and specially some instincts about team skills J , So in that case I think a PM skills can be used in many ways as a very important role for scrum teams specially if there are many scrum teams involved in a project. One way to position him is to be outside of the team, acting a coaching role to help the PO in various scenarios throughout the project. But if the PM can be converted to a good scrum master who will serve this "Servant based leadership" the value he or she can provide is really good when compare with a techie who has no much experience of looking at the project perspectives becoming a scrum master.. I think its all about a mentality change which needs to play this new role by using your valuable skills. There are quite lot of opportunities for a skilled PM in agile environment either outside the team as a coach to work with PO or inside the team as a Scrum master.


Gogula G. Aryalingam on 10:52 PM said...

But, it may scare away the developers... :)

Anonymous said...

PM is Scrum Master in Scrum, isn't it? Just a different label.

In current development environment, classic dictator type PM will never succeed to create lasting & productive team. If he/she wants to be successful then being democratic is the only way. So in my view PM and Scrum Master are not different but they are same.

Thushara said...

@ Gogula – Reminds me the time that we did scrum together 
@ Ano – If you listen to most the scrum experts , you will get the answer as “NO”.. But I think ( some practitioners have the same opinion as me Im sure) its Yes and No. Because if you look at most the waterfall methods, the project manager need to “Manage” the project and the team, but when you look at Scrum, he needs to “Facilitate” and not manage. In this case the best argument is that, when a project fails in scrum , who should be taking the responsibility ? in waterfall way no matter what others do, the project manager will be responsible. But in a scrum team , the responsibility lies with the whole team and its very transparent because there is no “Captain of the ship” However its agree that most the responsibilities lies with the Product owner as he or she is the person who is totally responsible about creating business value out of the product. Actually Product owner is one of the most difficult role in Scrum and most of our traditional PM responsibilities such as value decisions, creating product road map and release plans , maintain the backlog and prioritization lies with the Product owner. Hope I answered your question !

John said...

Spot on observation of the PM's role to my opinion.

If you have a strong team, SM and a experienced PO it is difficult to find an defined role for the PM but if there are a new project with an inexperienced team and a new SM then I agree fully to your views of the PM's role.

Interesting to read your findings!


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