Value is Not Automatic
What value do project managers provide a software development team?
In practice, project managers may or may not provide any value to the development team. Just like any other role in an organization, the PM role is just as much a victim of organizational hiring practices and the bell curve as any other role (such as "software developer"), and has exactly the same chances of being filled with mediocre performers or incompetent time-servers.
Project managers can and should add value to any project. It just isn't automatic just because someone is wearing the PM hat.
How Project Management Can Add Value to Software Teams
Project management is, from one point of view, the management of process and expectations. Even though Scrum doesn't use the title of Project Manager, it is definitely all about project management, and provides an illustrative example of the value that such management provides to software developers on the team when done correctly.
In Scrum, the Scrum Master provides the following value to the team and to the organization:
- Communicates the Scrum framework requirements and associated processes throughout the organization.
- Acts as a process referee.
- In cooperation with the Product Owner, the Scrum Master protects the team from outside interference and scope creep.
- Facilitates communication between the team and stakeholders.
- In cooperation with the Scrum Team, the Scrum Master ensures that Sprint and project status are both transparent to the rest of the organization.
- Coaches the development team towards self-organizing behavior.
- Ensures that all work is made visible to the team and to the rest of the organization.
- When the team identifies process impediments, the Scrum Master uses all available organizational tools to communicate the impediments to the organization, and mitigates them whenever possible.
- In practice, the Scrum Master is often the repository of various framework artifacts such as the Sprint Backlog, as well as metrics such as burn-down charts. (Whether this is ideal is debatable, but it's usually the case.)
- The Scrum Master coordinates essential framework activities such as the daily stand-up, the Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective.
In short, the Scrum Master role is an enabling role. Whether your framework is agile or traditional, project management provides structure to the project.
Identify Why Project Management is a Hard Sell
If project management (as a framework) or a project manager (as a role) is a hard sell within your organization, then you need to unearth the reasons why this may be so. Has your team had bad experiences with particular individuals or frameworks in the past? Has your organization found project management more of a hindrance than an asset?
Whatever the reason, until you fully understand the context, evangelizing a framework or role will be an exercise in futility. Project management is designed to solve various business problems; make sure you know what those business problems actually are (for both the organization and the software development team) before you try to solve them prescriptively.