What is Agile Project Management on a Scrum Project?

Where Traditional Project Management Fits in an Agile Project Using Scrum

team management (mostly related to facilitation) will fall on the ScrumMaster, but most are now the responsibility of the Scrum Team itself.

Another significant feature of the Scrum approach is that Scrum Teams are small (seven people plus or minus two) and fully cross-functional. Instead of segregating people into “disciplinary ghettoes” by skill set, Scrum advocates grouping all the skills necessary to accomplish Sprint goals on a single team. This Scrum Team will likely be one of several fully cross-functional teams on larger projects.

It is the Scrum Team that manages scope at the individual feature level as a result of the implementation decisions it makes, weighing input from the PO as to how best to meet stakeholder needs for a given feature. The Scrum Team manages time (i.e. the schedule) for a given iteration. It is the Scrum Team that is chiefly responsible for managing quality (based on criteria established by the PO), its people (HR), communication (with help from the PO and ScrumMaster), and risk. The Scrum Team also monitors and controls the execution of work within each iteration. In short, many of the responsibilities formerly associated with the project manager are now the responsibility of the Scrum Team.

What is a ScrumMaster Really?

According to Ken Schwaber, “The ScrumMaster is a new management role introduced by Scrum. The ScrumMaster is responsible for the success of Scrum.” Given that explanation, there really is no analog of the ScrumMaster in traditionally managed projects. Further, “The ScrumMaster is responsible for ensuring that Scrum values, practices and rules are enacted and enforced. The ScrumMaster is the driving force behind all of the Scrum practices.” Thus most of the ScrumMaster’s responsibilities fall entirely within the purview of Scrum itself.

The ScrumMaster facilitates communication between individual team members, between the team and the PO and the larger organization. The ScrumMaster is also responsible for advocating continuous improvement in quality and the process itself. The ScrumMaster makes the progress reporting mechanisms and metrics in Scrum visible and educates the PO (and the larger organization) in their meaning and use. In short, it is the responsibility of the ScrumMaster to create and foster the environment in which the PO and the Scrum Team can take charge of all the project management responsibilities they have in a Scrum context and discharge those responsibilities effectively and successfully.

It is important to note, however, that the ScrumMaster DOES NOT have any authority and IS NOT a manager of people or projects. The ScrumMaster doesn’t, for example, assign tasks to team members or monitor team member performance and the team doesn't report to the ScrumMaster.


The Project Manager and Scrum


It should be clear from this discussion of project management responsibilities and the Scrum Roles that there is no single person in Scrum with all the responsibilities traditionally associated with project management. It should also be clear that the ScrumMaster role is a new role for which there is no direct analog in traditional project management. With the addition of the ScrumMaster, the responsibilities traditionally accorded to the project manager are now divided mostly between the Product Owner and the Scrum Team with the ScrumMaster, instead, serving as an intermediary between and facilitator of both.

Given that, where does the traditional project manager fit in a Scrum project? The short, if unsatisfying, answer is, “It depends.” According to Schwaber, “We let them go where they think they best fit. Both SM and PO are management positions, one customer facing, the other engineering facing.” In my experience implementing Scrum in various organizations over the past five years, the

About the author

AgileConnection is a TechWell community.

Through conferences, training, consulting, and online resources, TechWell helps you develop and deliver great software every day.