A number of Agile authors suggest that the role of the traditional project manager on Agile projects is dead and should be replaced by the Agile Project Manager. Although I have disagreed with this idea, I had never examined it in detail.
At a recent Agile Project Management Meet-up, I had an opportunity to examine this idea. We had a facilitated discussion on the role of the “Scrum Master / Agile Project Manager”. The facilitator was objective, did not favor any particular view of Agile and did not compare the Agile role with the Traditional Project Manager role.
Note: For the remainder of this blog, I will use the term “Agile Project Manager” to refer to both “Scrum Master” and “Agile Project Manager”.
After the Meetup, I documented the Agile Project Management responsibilities discussed in the Meetup in the table below. I added Ken Schwaber’s ideas about the role of the Scrum Master, (noted in italic with an asterisk) and listed PMI’s PMBOK 2008 responsibilities for the Traditional Project Manager.
After analyzing the table, there appears to me to be little difference between successful Agile Project Managers and Traditional Project Managers. They have similar responsibilities and successful ones practice participative management.
To me, the main difference between the roles is in the way they are portrayed.
Agile Project Manages are portrayed as favoring a participative management style guiding self-governing Agile Project Teams (more on this in another blog).
In contrast, Traditional Project Managers are portrayed as favoring an autocratic, command and control management style; make all project decisions themselves; develop detailed Waterfall Project Plans themselves; assign tasks to project team members without their input; and are constantly “cracking a whip” to make sure that all team members are working as hard as they can to complete the project.
These views do not fit with my experiences and do not they fit with what the PMBOK says. The PMBOK discusses a variety of management styles, and then states that project team members are key to the success of any project and recommends a collaborative team building style as the best way to run projects.
The most successful Project Managers that I know (Agile or Traditional) practice participative management. They include project team members in in project planning, in project decision making and in project execution. They focus on training and mentoring their teams to help them achieve project objectives.
Table 1 – Agile versus Traditional Project Management Responsibilities
|Scrum Master – Agile Project Manager
Roles from Agile Project Meetup
|Traditional Project Manager
From PMBOK 2008
||Facilitate Project Activities::
|Coach Agile Team in Rituals and in agile task execution||
|Remove Obstacles (Impediments*)||Resolve Project Issues often using an Issue List (Obstacles or Impediments)|
|Track Progress & suggest corrections if needed
||Track Progress and manage changes
|Manage Project Budget||Manage Project Budget|
|Develop estimates using Planning Poker (a modified Delphi technique)||Develop estimates using a variety of techniques including Delphi and modified Delphi techniques)|
|Communicate with Stakeholders:
||Develop and manage Project Communications Plan for all key stakeholders|
|Work with Product Owner to:
||Work with Stakeholders to develop:
|Helps form Teams*
||Develops Human Resource Plan
|Responsible for the success of Scrum*
||Responsible to organization to achieve Project Objectives (Success)
|Is a New Management Role*||Traditional Project Management Role that has been around for numerous years.|