What is Agile Project Management on a Scrum Project?

Where Traditional Project Management Fits in an Agile Project Using Scrum

any real authority.

PM Responsibilities and Scrum

When Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland, the creators of the Scrum framework, developed the disciplines roles, they intentionally divided the multifarious responsibilities of project management across multiple roles and endowed those roles with the authority to accomplish their objectives. According to Ken Schwaber:

In the past the PM was responsible for figuring out what had to be developed and how, and then ensuring that the people doing the development did what they were supposed to. We decided to put responsibility with authority. The PO (customer representative) is now responsible for figuring out what has to be developed. The self organizing Scrum team of developers is responsible for figuring out how to do it and doing it.

In Scrum, the Product Owner is the customer-facing role while the ScrumMaster is the development-facing role. Furthermore, Scrum separates the “what” (i.e. the project’s overarching objectives, stakeholder needs, etc.) from the “how” (i.e. how will project objectives and stakeholders needs be implemented and met). Thus the things traditionally associated with project management are distributed between the roles or shared among them.


PM Responsibilities of the Product Owner


In Scrum, “[The Product Owner] is the person who is officially responsible for the project.” This is strikingly similar to the PMBOK® Guide definition of the project manager mentioned above. In addition, the PO “is responsible for representing the interests of everyone with a stake in the project and its resulting product. The PO achieves initial and ongoing funding for the project by creating the project's initial overall requirements, return on investment objectives, and release plans. The PO is responsible for using the Product Backlog to ensure that the most valuable functionality is produced first and built upon.”

In the language of project management, the Product Owner is “responsible for achieving project objectives.” It is the Product Owner who is largely responsible for managing the triple constraint of scope, schedule, and budget. However, this role still shares responsibility for time management with the team by managing the project schedule at the release level, while the Scrum Team manages its time within each iteration. In general, the Product Owner participates, to a greater or lesser degree, in the management of other project management knowledge areas (e.g. HR and communication), but is not chiefly responsible for those areas.

An important distinction between the Product Owner and the traditional project manager are that the Product Owner monitors execution at the iteration level but DOES NOT control it. Similarly, the Product Owner does not assign tasks to development, but sets iteration goals for the Scrum Team based on the needs of the stakeholders and depends on the Team to manage task decomposition and assignment, etc. Finally, the Product Owner shares the responsibility of reporting progress toward project goals to the larger organization chiefly through the mechanism of the Sprint Review.


PM Responsibilities of the Scrum Team


A crucial difference between a traditional project management approach and Scrum is the level of autonomy and authority accorded to the Scrum Team, which includes several responsibilities traditionally assigned to the project manager. As Schwaber and Beedle explain: “A team commits to achieving a sprint goal. The team is accorded full authority to do whatever it decides is necessary to achieve the goal.” In other words, Scrum Teams are considered to be “self-organizing” and “self-managed,” which marks a fairly radical departure from the description of project team management in section 9.4 of the PMBOK® Guide. As we shall see in our discussion of the ScrumMaster role, a handful of the activities associated with project

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