Not to be confused with:

In an agile process, where should PMs stand? What exactly is their Role? Should there be PMs in agile in the first place? Or Should they be replaced by a PO (Product Owner), or -may be- a Scrum Master?

  • That's a question that really confuses me a lot.. I can't give a definite answer.. Should they replace POs.. Hmm. I guess not.. On one hand, a PO should be the one directing the project, knowing what the customer want.. But still, a PO -probably- should have some technical background.. So according to my answer to the previous question, PMs can't replace POs..
  • On the other hand, Replacing a Scrum Master, is a bit too far for PMs, Scrum Master are supposed to be in favor of the development team, ie a facilitator & protector for the dev team; & PMs are notorious of failing to do so.. :D
  • Another option -that just came to me right now- is PMs replacing customer in environments where it's difficult to involve the customer.

3 Answers 3

  1. It depends on what is agile in your company's workflow and what is not. Probably the most common combination is agile product development surrounded by non-agile workflow. In such setup PM's role is required i.e. to start/initiate, manage, control, report and finalize project. (see whitepaper)

  2. The team empowerment and agile process makes much of the PM's authority distribute across the team. Some authority goes to PO's and some to team members. It's described in the link you already provided. Nevertheless, PM can be very important as a Chief PO who represents business in the agile process. Furthermore, Scrum Master usually suffers from low authority (being PM brings role conflict as you stated), so PM is the one who can help with management and motivation issues.

  3. There are many teams whose work depends on others' work. While PO's represent parties who benefit from product (like customers or sponsors), PM can be responsible for contacts with parties which team depends on (for example when it involves outsourcing or work with suppliers).

  4. The problem can arise in small companies where existence of PM, PO and SM would be probably too much for a single team, so some roles must be shared. If I had to choose I would left the PO alone (she is already overloaded with work) and try to marriage PM role with ScrumMaster's (teams on the early stage of agile adoption would benefit from having SM who performs PM functions, while mature agile teams would more likely benefit from having PM who also acts as SM).


Different PMs do different things on different projects, so that makes this simultaneously easy and hard to answer.

Easy, because each PM can simply look at what he normally does, look at what work the project needs doing, then do whatever in the project matches what he normally does.

Hard, because the answer "we don't want PMs" is both true and unsatisfying.

When involved in a project attempting to use lean practices, I think the PM can help most by modeling the behavior of good project planners: notably mapping value streams and looking for ways to increase the flow of value through the system. He could lead the charge in applying systems thinking to the project and suggest higher-level changes to the way the team works during retrospectives. The more the PM takes a system view to the team's performance, the better. I'd like him also to spend time teaching that to the team.

I would /hate/ to see a PM reduced to the menial tasks of tracking, reporting, and punishing. We have software for the first two and middle managers for the last one. :)


There is no Project Manager role in the agile framework, but that does not mean that there cannot or should not be Project Managers within the company.

Agile is a development framework - is a set of principles and recommended practices that help get software developed. It has been successfully adapted to other practices as well.

At a company, there are a lot of projects that take place. Some of those projects are well-suited for agile, and others less so. It is perfectly okay for a Project Manager to be asked to "manage" an agile project, as there are doubtless executives at the top who will demand uniform reports on the progress of all efforts.

The onus is then on the Project Manager to understand what metrics the executive or Sr. Manager level is looking for, and to work with the agile team to figure out how those metrics can be provided. Depending on the project and the reporting demands, the PM may want to negotiate different metrics with upper management. They may also need to work with the Scrum Master to help educate management on what agile is and why they should be able to be confident in their timelines.

The Project Manager would not be part of the scrum team, but they should make an effort to attend Sprint Reviews, as that's where they're going to end up getting the information they need in order to assess the health of the project and provide the information they are being asked to provide upward.

  • The agile framework? PMSE's wiki says "Agile is an umbrella term for frameworks, methodologies, and practices based on the four values..." DSDM is an example of a framework that does have a PM role, Scrum is an example of one that does not. Good points about reporting and comms.
    – nvogel
    Jan 30, 2020 at 16:37
  • My apologies on the terminology... it changes too frequently, and among too many groups. I've tried to stop worrying about semantics except when it's important.
    – WannabeMe
    Jan 30, 2020 at 20:43

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