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.
  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. :)

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