Project Managers in Agile: Where do I fit in?

Photo Credit: Dave Seah via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dave Seah via Compfight cc


A few weeks ago I went to an Agile Iowa panel at Telligen regarding their Agile Transformation.  I enjoyed the panel as I used to work at Telligen in its previous life as Iowa Foundation Medical Care.  I saw a lot of familiar faces, for instance the moderator was Matthew Zach.  We were both back on the QNetExchange team a long time ago.

When Reuben Garza spoke about how he had some struggles as the project manager when they moved to Agile, I listened up.  The move to Agile can cause a lot of angst and questions about our roles in the transition.  Agile can move control to other parties in the team.  Reuben even mentioned that there was “conflict” as Telligen made the transition.

I see this question a lot, I am a member of the Agile and Lean Software Development group on LinkedIn.  A member recently posted the question, “What does an Agile Project Manager do?”.  Some members thought the project manager would transition to the Scrum Master.  Others thought that the Scrum Master is a coach and this is not the role of the project manager.  There was a good response for this question from Brett Maytom, a Scrum Trainer from Australia.  Here was his response:

The SM is not a PM. The role of the SM is to simply coach the team on continual inspection and adoption and ensures that Scrum is followed. The definitely does not do what a PM does.

The PO is responsible for defining the requirements, managing ROI, managing risk and in part does take on many of the traditional PM responsibilities.

As Scrum is a framework and does not impose rules, some companies business or operational models may require someone other than the PO to manage vendors, resources and larger programs or portfolios of work in this situation a PM may be employed and used.

There is a lot of animosity towards PM’s due to the general command-and-control and micromanagement nature traditional PMs employ. An agile PM will still manage the project, but be more of a servant leader.

Scrum can work well with PM practices, but does require more of the right individual with an agile mindset behind them.


This question gets at the basic fact that organizational change is difficult.  When we make a big change like this people should be prepared for conflict and disagreement.  During my Scrum Master training this question came up.  I was in training with a few project managers from Nationwide Insurance.  They were trying to transition some of the project manager to Scrum Masters.  Sanjiv Augustine, our trainer from Lithespeed, pointed out he sees company go at this in different ways.  Some companies have transitioned project mangers to Scrum Masters, others have them work in conjunction.

If you enjoyed this please share this and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes