13 November 2012

Let’s End the Debate! Scrum Master vs Project Manager – 2 of 3

Missed part 1? Read it here: Let’s End the Debate! Scrum Master versus Project Manager – Part 1 of 3   Over the past couple of months, I've been documenting, in near real-time, the progress being made as an organization goes through an Agile transformation.   During this transformation, I've learned that there’s no way, going through Scrum Master training that I could be responsible for all the responsibilities of a project manager. It’s just not fathomable and would lead to ultimate project failure. To set the record straight, project manager is NOT synonymous with Scrum Master. A Scrum Master is critical to the facilitation and execution of the Scrum team. But they’re not responsible for all the components of a product development project. If anything, a Scrum master should be a dotted line to a project manager as part of the reporting structure.   However, for all these relationships to work together, we also need to know what the responsibilities are of the team back to the project manager.   Essentially, the project manager has to know just about everything that’s going on during the course of a project in order to determine if the right action and the necessary progress is being made against the tasks and deliverables. It’s unrealistic for every meeting and every action to be in the project manager’s schedule. However, they still need to know what meetings are occurring and when communication and decisions are expected in order to ensure the team is working effectively and efficiently relative to the agreed upon scope and success criteria of the project.   This relationship between the project manager and the team is not meant to be based on command and control, but rather based on trust and optimizing collaboration. If the project manager has any chance in managing these responsibilities while not having authority over most, if not all, of the team resources, then they need to rely on those team leads for basic and fundamental information. The following are the characteristics of the entire product team including the project manager:
  • Openness regarding truthful task and deliverable progress
  • Frequent and constant communication
  • Commitment to achieving the success criteria
  • Courage to tell the truth
  • Respect for each other
  Borrowing the page of Scrum team responsibilities to the product owner and scrum master, I've tailored the responsibilities so that they reflect the entire project team relative to the project manager:
  • Communication regarding the prioritization (and change) of requirements, MMF’s, sprint backlog items, and tasks
  • Commitments to results based on agreed upon milestones
  • Communication of estimates of effort to implement User Stories and tasks to complete all project deliverables
  • Communication of dependencies between tasks and team members
  • Identification of obstacles and informing the project manager when those obstacles may occur and when they have occurred.
  • Self-organizing – Individual teams within a project have to be self-organizing and can’t rely on a command and control style project manager. However, self organizing means informing the project manager on how the team is self- organized and how they intend to complete the work. Project manager’s need to have context for any of this to make sense.
  • The team has the right to do everything within the project guidelines boundaries to achieve the project goals.
  In the product development world, project managers, more than ever, are critical in the successful execution and delivery of projects/products to market. Role clarity and collaboration is essential. The project manager and the scrum master are meant to work collaboratively with each other not against each other. If we can get our definition of a project correct and we can enforce the responsibilities of the team back to the project manager, then I can say confidently “Project managers, there is no need to worry about job security. You’re still a valuable member to your organization. If anything, your job just got easier by the introduction of the scrum master and product owner roles.  

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Continue reading: Let’s End the Debate! Scrum Master versus Project Manager – Part 3 of 3

This is the second in a series of three guest posts on this topic from Steven Starke, author of S.T.O.P The Project Management Survival Plan and partner at Actuation Consulting.   Steven StarkeSteven Starke is the author of S.T.O.P. – The Project Management Survival Plan. He is currently the VP of Program Management for Truven Health Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters Health) and working with Actuation Consulting on training material focused on product team collaboration. Steve has held leadership positions in Program Management, Product Management, Systems Engineering, Product R&D, and Global IT and has run full-fledged PMOs. His industry experience ranges from consumer products and medical devices to global IT Infrastructure, healthcare analytics, and software development. Steven can be reached at Steve@actuationconsulting.com and networked with via his LinkedIn profile. Read more about Steven.
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