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A colleague and I had a discussion a few days ago on where a PM in a Prince2 project would be placed when the product delivery is done using Scrum.

I wonder what your thoughts are:

  • who should the PM communication be to, taking into account the different roles in Scrum?
  • How much or in what way should the PM be involved in the product delivery?
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3 Answers 3

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The answer may depend on the nature of the project.

If the project is purely around delivery and technical implementation of a software product, then perhaps there is no place for a PM in the role that would be recognised within Prince 2 - although that is arguable, as I suspect that there are few projects that exist to deliver only software.

If, as may be more likely, the project encompasses substantial business change, procurement and implementation of hardware and software infrastructure, development and delivery of end-user training, financial management, project and programme reporting, risk management, and benefit realisation, alongside the software development, then I do believe that the PM has an important role.

The PM should not be the Scrum Master, in my opinion, nor should he be the Product Owner. The PM in Prince 2 can be quite divorced from the technical delivery. The role should focus on ensuring that the delivery teams know what they are expected to deliver, then keeping on top of risks, benefit planning and realisation, quality, and progress. In such a role, the PM may be managing several small projects simultaneously, or one large project that needs a high level of coordination and reporting.

Your question asks about communication to and from the PM: this should probably be with the Product Owner, who in Prince 2 terms could probably be considered as a Team Manager. You also ask about the level of involvement that the PM should have in day-to-day delivery: I believe this should be very limited indeed.

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Cannot help but agree with this. Currently we are working with SCRUM for the deliverables and with PRINCE2 for all the rest. In my experience when the PM tries to be more involved with the SCRUM process he has little time left to do actual project management which in turn causes the project to fall behind and receive the undevided and unneeded attention from senior management. –  reaper_unique Apr 9 at 6:29
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The answer is: it depends much on the situation.

  • If you can apply Scrum by the book and you have a client willing to undertake their role and a team is somewhat experienced with Scrum there may be a little place for PM as it is understood in Prince2. I consider there is a Product Owner on client's side who takes part in planning sessions and demoing the app, is a go-to person whenever the team has any doubts regarding stories etc. I also consider that the team deals with the work rather well. In such environment PM role is split among all the team members and the client so PM themselves don't suit the picture well. It is however pretty rare situation.

  • If the client doesn't want to change the way they work and expect the project to be delivered "the good old way" you can still organize production according to Scrum but you will have gaps everywhere when you expect direct engagement of the customer, the biggest one being Product Owner role. In such situation PM is the best candidate to play as a sort of bridge and/or translator of both worlds: agile on vendor's side and formalized on client's side. Whenever the team needs an input from PO they ask PM who is mimicking this role and they get all the answers from the customer like typically PM would do. In this case there is probably also an expectation from the client to have a specific set of formal requirements fulfilled (like documentations, project plans etc.) which again is a common task addressed to PMs. Note: in this case I pretty much assume teams is fairly familiar with Scrum and they know how they are expected to work and organize their process.

  • The last case is when the teams struggles with Scrum. Then it might be worth considering having PM as a Scrum Master. It isn't a sure shot idea though. I would carefully consider whether PM believes in success of the method, knows it and is able to help the team in a way that SM is supposed to work, meaning not telling the team how exactly they should work but more facilitating team's discussions in order to remind them principles. Because of the specifics of PM role it might be a good idea as PM rarely has a direct power over the team. However I find it also risky as it is often tempting for former PMs just to tell people what to do and not just advise them. In this case communication would happen pretty much the same as in a typical scenario with SM.

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In your first point, in Scrum, the Product Owner doesn't have to be from the customer. It's simply a team member who has the power to speak on behalf of the customer (is "voice of the customer"). They make decisions for the customer on a day-to-day basis. They also maintain direct communication with the customer and users. Ideally, a customer representative is the best Product Owner, but this isn't always possible. –  Thomas Owens Sep 9 '11 at 12:58
    
Also, I've never applied PRINCE2, but I read the description of a PM as someone who "will select people to do the work on the project and will be responsible for making sure the work is done properly and on time". Although it's not a recommended combination in Scrum, this seems to be a cross between Product Owner (prioritizes features, assigns values to tasks) and ScrumMaster (removes blocks, ensures the process is working, makes process improvements as needed). I don't know why you shouldn't combine PO and SM (I've never found a good answer), but it seems like it shouldn't be a problem. –  Thomas Owens Sep 9 '11 at 13:15
    
You don't have to have PO on the client's side although it is recommended whenever possible. If you have PO on your side PM makes a good candidate for one - that's exactly what I described above. Talking about PM in a role of SM I find it pretty rare when it works well and this is where my doubts start. For some reasons PM who got used to formal methods find it very hard to switch to adviser role and you definitely don't want to have your SM telling people directly what to do. Side note: PO acts this way more often, e.g. setting priorities etc. Maybe that's why it is a better fit. –  Pawel Brodzinski Sep 9 '11 at 14:27
    
I don't understand "have PO on the client's side". There is no PO on client side versus your side. There is a single PO (or perhaps a PO with an alternate should he be unavailable), and this individual is a member of the Scrum team. The PO has voice of the customer and performs tasks such as verifying and validating the completion of stories and prioritizing stories. As for combining PO and SM, I think it's possible, but takes discipline. –  Thomas Owens Sep 9 '11 at 14:34
    
PO is a role which can be fulfilled either by client's employee or vendor's employee. This is what I think of when talking about sides. And yes, it does make a huge difference. –  Pawel Brodzinski Sep 9 '11 at 14:56
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It isn't difficult to inegrate PRINCE2 and Scrum. The PRINCE2 project proceeds as per the manual and during the Approving a Work Package Activity of Controlling a Stage, the PRINCE2 PM is acting as Product Owner (because he / she is representing the customer requirements). The accepting Team Manager (Development Team Lead probably) implements Scrum in the Managing Product Delivery process and treats the Work Package as the Product Backlog. This Product Backlog is broken into as many Sprints as required and as long as the entire process is complete by the time the Work Package was due to be complete, the PM has almost no interest in the activities taking place and expects only to receive Checkpoint Reports at agreed intervals. The PM may or may not decide to attend the daily Scrum.

The only other interaction that the PM will carry out is to recieve Issue Reports from the Scrum Master and keep him / her informed on the matter and the PM will also pass changes down to the Development Team lead. How these issues are analysed and acted upon and how the changes were approved does not concern the Scrum team, the PM handles these activities using the PRINCE2 approach.

As you can see, there is no overlap or modification of either methodology. Both PRINCE2 and Scrum methodologies are intact and neither the PM or Scrum team need to be burdened with any more responsibility than they would have had before combining the approaches.

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