Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Management in agile projects

In Scrum there are two management roles: the Scrum Master and the Product Owner. In other methodologies the project manager role is also known. How do and can they coexist?
The picture below describes the influence on the project of each management role.
Manager lives at the boundary
Scrum Master
The Scrum Master informs the outside world on the agile way of working of the team. Within the development team he encourages open communication. At the iteration end the Scrum Master organizes a retrospective to let the team reflect themselves. The Scrum Master takes impediments away in order to keep the focus on a timely delivery of business value. In this way he improves the team motivation.
Product Owner
The second management role in agile projects is the product owner. As a (delegated) sponsor he funds the project. He takes the necessary decisions for the project. When there is more than one sponsor, the product owner is mandated by the other sponsors to make the decisions. He is responsible for the prioritizing the backlog based on the business value of each individual backlog item. He also decides when to go live and when to end the project. He safeguards the business case by weighing the business value against the realization costs of still to be realized backlog items.
Project Manager
The general task of the project manager is to inform the outside world, like the project board, about the progress and the achievements of the project and to give direction to the team. The latter however doesn’t comply with the agile way of working.
In agile projects the management supports the team rather than being directive. So, if the project manager want to coexist with the other management roles, he should act slightly different. On the other hand, they should be willing to cede some of the responsibilities which Scrum assigns to the Scrum Master and Product Owner roles.
  • The project manager keeps the responsibility for the project budget. He also needs to take care of the interruptions from outside of the project trying to prevent the negative influence of these interruptions to the development team. Within the development team he aligns the goal perception of the team members and he takes care of their skill development, but he may not give directions to the team anymore.
  • The Product Owner will be in charge of the project scope. He prioritizes the backlog and decides about necessary changes, unless these changes exceed the project mandate. In this way he has still influence on the business case without being responsible for it.
  • The Scrum Master is mainly seen as an agile coach. He still takes care of impediments, but when they are outside his circle of influence the project manager takes it over.
Those three roles can indeed coexist. They can even benefit from each other when they can get a higher focus on their main goal.

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