In a Scrum team there is no role of a project manager. Does that mean that project manager jobs will eventually disappear? What is a project manager supposed to do when organization starts to shift over to Scrum?

  • Welcome to PMSE! Please see this related answer: pm.stackexchange.com/a/4717/34 – jmort253 Jun 10 '13 at 2:45
  • @jmort253 Thanks! Great that we can link these questions together since they are related raising an important question in a changing world. – JustinBieber Jun 10 '13 at 19:47
  • There's a link in my first comment, and I've added another comment on the other post linking back to this one. Good idea! – jmort253 Jun 11 '13 at 3:09

The Project Management role grew from needs to coordinate in the traditional environments. If the title sticks around, the role still has to change. I've seen PMs take on higher level coordination, become a PO, become a SM or design a new role altogether. This is all depending on your organization, quality of agile adoption and access to coaching. If not thought put carefully you can create duplicated work and unnecessary role confusion.

A year ago I put together a graphic to help some other PMPs with the discussion. Maybe it will also bring you some clarity. This in no way is an exhaustive list or view, just an illustration of how some responsibilities might shift and the importance of understanding how people share roles.


enter image description here

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Nice graph. It sure is adapted to the current situation. However, I think you should take release manager into a consideration also. From my experience, I've seen project manager becoming Product owner AND release manager in a smaller organisation. – JustinBieber Jun 10 '13 at 19:56
  • Thanks. That is why I said it is not exhaustive and is meant to give you an idea of how you meant think out the specifics in your business. I suggest your make your own and share it with others to see if you can get a shared understanding. – Erin Beierwaltes Jun 11 '13 at 21:07

Probably not. The main job of a PM is to drive all the stakeholders in the same direction, which is sometimes more diplomacy and communication than actually project organisation.

Scrum is a methodology to deliver product in accordance with requirements. However, a project is usually not limited to simply delivery a product, it may involve business, communication, strategic planning... aspect in which a PM can still have a real part to play.

In a organization using Scrum, PM can shift from technical to more managerial aspect "representing" the project outside of the development team. It may also sometimes merge/collude with some team management job.

| improve this answer | |
  • Welcome to PMSE! Thanks for taking the time to contribute. :) – jmort253 Jun 10 '13 at 2:46
  • @valeuf if the main job of a PM is to drive all the stakeholders in the same direction, I believe in Erin's Beierwaltes answer from the above that the role of a project manager will be involved in managing the product answering to the stake holders. Rather than delivering the project. So, in your opinion, project manager will probably shift into a role of a product manager. – JustinBieber Jun 10 '13 at 20:02
  • @JustinBieber In a perfect world where Agile allows you to produce continuous release you can only play one parameter : the scope of each release. In this case, project manager rules may shift towards more product management, where the main responsibility will be more about the scope to be delivered, over securing the delivery itself. – valeuf Aug 20 '13 at 4:25

I agree with Valeuf; in our organisation the 'scrummaster' role is taken up by the team-leads. But this is only for more maintenance/support/ small changes kind of work (and they are often working more in a Kanban style)

However, the larger projects often have multiple scrumteams working in parallel, so there remains a lot of project setup work, coordination, budget-follow up, communication with operations teams etc.

Besides the list valeuf has proposed, I would definitley add Risk Management!

| improve this answer | |
  • If Risk Management should be concluded as one of the task in this new role, which we all in some certain level agrees that the Project Manager role is changing. Who do you suggest should handle the risk management if there is no project manager in a scrum team? – JustinBieber Jun 10 '13 at 20:07
  • I wouldn't know if the project manager role is changing; it isn't in my domain. What is happening is that ongoing maintenance work is managed by teamleads, and this work is handled in an agile manner. Also, some parts of a project may be organised with agile techniques, but not everything. The PM role remains valid, whatever the underlying techniques applied. From a pure theoretical point of view, Risk process management should probably be devided among Product owner/scrum master. However, risk management remains a team effort. – Stephan Jun 11 '13 at 10:06


If you want to be relevant in the agile world, update your skills. If you want to stay with traditional methodologies, target the right job sectors.

Project Management in the Market

Does it mean that the project manager job eventually will disappear?

Not in the foreseeable future. Project management as a career will be around as long as there are valid business cases for the role. Traditional project management will likely be around for a long time in the manufacturing, construction, and government sectors, and anywhere that modern agile practices are not a good fit.

Agile methodologies are not restricted to IT projects, but in my personal experience I have seen limited uptake in other types of business units. Your mileage may certainly vary.

Avoid Obsolescence

What is a project manager supposed to do when organization starts to shift over to Scrum?

This seems to be the real heart of your question. You appear to be asking what you should do to prevent your current career path from becoming obsolete. The answer is really no different than any other career in an information economy:

  1. Maintain market relevance.
  2. Continually improve your skill set.
  3. Shift your career goals based on your abilities and market demand.

If your current market segment is "going agile," then educate yourself about agile methodologies and update your skills. If you can't or won't do that, then you'll likely have to shift your career focus towards market segments where traditional project management practices and career progressions remain relevant.

Arguing from analogy, people still make money doing COBOL programming. It's a niche market, but it hasn't died out the way everyone predicted. Even if some new project control hotness comes along in the future that makes both traditional and agile methodologies look old-school, there will likely be areas where those methodologies still apply.

Personal Choice

Currently, there are careers to be made in both the agile and traditional project management camps. Which one is best for you is a personal choice; there's no canonical answer that applies to everyone.

I'll let you know which career track is the "best" choice when my crystal ball starts working again, or when the future gets around to becoming the present. In the meantime, good luck!

| improve this answer | |
  • Great answer. Raising and answering the real heart of my question. If the project manager is to maintain their market relevance, should they re-educate themselves to be prepared for a role of a product owner? Is there such an education that qualifies you as a product owner? – JustinBieber Jun 10 '13 at 20:18
  • @JustinBieber I'm not sure that I'd call a career change to Product Owner a progression; it's just a different role in the same way that a Product Manager is not necessarily a direct progression from Project Manager. However, if you're interested in going that route, a number of organizations offer certifications like the Scrum Alliance CSPO. – Todd A. Jacobs Jun 10 '13 at 20:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.