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SCRUM framework - No PM role

Adrian Sita
23 May, 2019
3 m read

Project Manager Job Description

Before talking about the Scrum framework we have to look at the Scrum methodology, one can see that there is no Project Manager role in it. No one assumes a position from where it can directly command and control project execution. So, you might tend to say that there is no Project Manager role in Scrum projects.

But this is not actually true. A project, although it might apply Scrum methodology for developing the software product, has many other aspects that need to be considered; for those aspects, the Project Manager is still required. Here you can find a series of tasks you should take into consideration when thinking of a PM:

  • communication and collaboration across the departments and stakeholders;
  • controlling the work environment: PM must acquire the resources needed, both hardware and software, facilities and human resources;
  • tracks the budget, and works with Human Resources to ensure company policies and procedures are enforced;
  • people management, including hiring and firing, salaries, performance reviews, discipline;
  • it could be responsible for multiple projects at the same time.

If you are interested in finding more information and differences between Traditional approach and Agile Project Management approach you can find the information right here

Moreover, if you want to have a perspective on what a Scrum Master should ask before joining a startup, check out the Toptal's article right here.

scrum framework

PM – Team Relationship with a Scrum Framework

Then, what's different? Well, what changes is the relationship between the Project Manager and the Scrum development team? In the Scrum framework, the project manager is an involved role; they have an interest in the project, but they are not committed like the Scrum core roles.

The Scrum core roles are accountable for the success of the product delivered, so they need to have the authority to create it. The Scrum team is self-directed and does not report to a manager regarding what they work on, how long it will take, or how they do their work. So, the project manager does not have a command and control role, instead, they need to base their relationship with the Scrum team on trust and collaboration.

Also, in the Scrum framework, the manager does not have the authority to direct the team to put new features in the product. Instead, they must work with the product owner to get the requirements into the product backlog. And only the product owner has the authority to prioritize the product backlog, meaning their requirement may not be seen as a high priority item.

How the manager is used to receiving status also changes. The manager does not call their own development status meetings, as the team must remain focused on the work of the sprint. Instead, the Scrum framework itself provides the transparency needed for stakeholders to stay informed.

The manager using a Scrum framework can view the prioritized product backlog to see the work remaining on the project. And the burndown chart and sprint backlog gives visibility into how the current sprint is progressing.

At the end of each sprint with the methodology based on the Scrum framework, the manager can attend the sprint review meeting, to monitor the progress of the project and ask questions. And the manager is welcome at the daily Scrum meetings, although they must attend as an observer and are not allowed to talk during the meeting.

The PM’s roles

Now, let's move from the PM to the Manager. When using a Scrum framework, the manager should take on two new responsibilities to ensure the success of the project. First, the manager needs to back up the product owner who has the challenging job of getting requirements from stakeholders and prioritizing them.

Stakeholders can include customers, managers, executives, and anyone that has an interest in the project but is not actually performing the work. As you probably know, sometimes stakeholders try to convince the product owner to get a higher priority on their feature, or to influence which features are included in the sprint.

Balancing competing requirements is not easy, especially when others are pushing their requirements through direct communication or by putting pressure from upper management.

The manager must assert the product owner’s authority to prioritize requirements, as he owns the vision of the final product. That doesn’t mean the manager cannot have private meetings to discuss any disagreements with the priorities chosen, as long as in public the manager has the product owner’s back.

Also, the project manager must back up the Scrum master, as they protect the team from distraction, remove impediments blocking the teams work, and facilitate the implementation of the Scrum process. In the Scrum framework, the project manager is critical as an escalation point for the Scrum master to raise team impediments, as the Scrum Master has no authority on their own.

Some (final) thoughts

We've found out all of this thing during our practical experience in our client' organization for PMs. Let's find out more together: by choosing from our list of courses.

This article is part of a bigger topic called: 

Agile Project Management

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