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We are building a customer portal to be used by 50,000 customers around the world for placing orders, viewing invoices and reports. In parallel, we have two continuous improvement teams, working on devops and BDD. We are using a mix of internal staff and a software house. The portal interfaces to SAP and Siebel. We are using scrum, and have a product owner and scrum masters. We also have a project director, delivery manager, change manager and test manager. Where and how could a Project Manager add value?

  • When mapping "traditional" roles to roles in Scrum or related Agile methods, the role of Project Manager typically maps to Product Owner. If the PM has a process-centric focus, they could also map to a Scrum Master or other process coaching role. However, it sounds like you already have these covered. Have you looked at the roles and responsibilities of the PM (and if you have an identified individual, their knowledge and experience) and seen if you have any gaps between the work that needs to be done and what this person has to offer the project team? – Thomas Owens Sep 17 '16 at 21:58
  • We've seen Project Managers mostly contributing in a Scrum of Scrums situations, i.e. where there's need to coordinate multiple Scrum teams. They also coordinate release activities beyond getting the software out - marketing, documentation, training etc (although, if you have a dedicated delivery manager, that is covered). It would help understanding the nature of your releases and Scrum teams to give a proper answer. – RomanK Sep 18 '16 at 3:52
  • Scrum frames the work as a product (not projects) in order to support change and requires each Increment to be thoroughly tested. It is good to question the value add of a Project Manager. What value do the project director, delivery manager, change manager, and test manager provide that cannot be completed with Scrum's defined roles? – Alan Larimer Sep 18 '16 at 23:19
  • Thanks. We certainly have enough 'management / governance' roles in this project, which I think is leading to some of the overlap and confusion. I'll follow up on the suggestion of a gap analysis, to understand what is not being covered adequately by the other roles – IanW Sep 21 '16 at 11:13
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I personally don't think the PM role maps to either that of Product Owner, since they generally don't have the requisite business knowledge, or Scrum Master due to conflicts of interest around organisation of tasks, scheduling etc.

DSDM (www.dsdm.org) defines the PM role in a scrum environment as:

  1. Managing the work environment in which Scrum Teams operate, ensuring appropriate resources, facilities and tools are available as required
  2. Performing high level planning and delivery coordination, influencing scrum teams through negotiation with their product owners
  3. Monitoring progress against baselined high level plans
  4. Managing risk and handling problems escalated from the scrum teams
  5. Organising and participating in project planning events

I am guessing between the Project Director and the Delivery Manager you have this covered ...?!

  • Thanks. I'll have a look at the DSDM site. I like this answer as it recognises the issue of scale we are facing; certainly the traditional 3 scrum roles do not have the time, inclination or expertise to deliver on these, although as I say in the original question, we do have a project lead (director), a delivery manager and a change manager! Maybe just too many 'managers'..... – IanW Sep 21 '16 at 11:15
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This is a difficult question to answer as so much depends on the particular circumstances in your organisation.

Scrum defines just three roles: The Product Owner, The Scrum Master and the Development Team Member. Those three roles cover everything that is necessary to deliver the product.

A lot of the traditional activities of Project Managers are no longer relevant when doing Scrum. For example project planning and reporting are typically very different to traditional projects.

There may, however, be some activities that are traditionally performed by a Project Manager that are still relevant. Examples might include:

  • Billing and other finance related activities
  • Liaising between teams
  • Dealing with contractual matters

Note that we are talking about activities here and not a role.

The appropriate way to include these activities in to Scrum are to assign them to one of the three Scrum roles. It might be, for example, that the Product Owner picks up the role of handling the project finances. It might also be that a Development Team Member is doing these activities.

There could be a case for taking somebody with Project Management experience and making them a Development Team Member. The key point here is that they are not acting as a Project Manager, but instead they are acting as a team member with particular skills.

  • In pure Scrum and smaller projects, this is possibly correct. On large projects, it is hard to get by on the three Scrum roles alone; cross-team coordination augmented with classical project management techniques is required. Also, in enterprise software, with low release cadence, there is still need for release management, go-to-market activities etc. etc. So, not sure I agree 100% if we look at practical situations. – RomanK Sep 18 '16 at 17:52
  • Certainly those finance / admin tasks are not going to be dealt with 'naturally' by any of the scrum roles. So we need to decide how they will be executed. Cross-team coordination is certainly worth reviewing; we have multiple scrum teams and CI teams, so at some point we need to recognise and manage the dependencies between those workstreams – IanW Sep 21 '16 at 11:19

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