Juggling Projects


I see the project manager/scrum master as being an equal part of the core team, along with the developers, architects, BAs, testers, etc. Perhaps your work environment has a dysfunctional model where PMs report into a PMO and oversee your project for metrics tracking, enforcing standard reporting templates and methdology/deliverables; however, this is not always the case -- in many organizations, PMs are put in place by project sponsors to help the team navigate around these barriers while still delivering in an agile manner, often "under the radar". This is shown in some interesting statistics that Scott Ambler put together from a survey he did a couple of years ago that showed some people were really doing agile within their organizations, while "faking" that they were following the traditional processes so as not to attract the attention of the "methodology police."

When you look back at the history of agile, and look at the influences of people like Jeff Sutherland, Alistair Cockburn, etc., you'll see reference to prior methodologies and techniques that originally emerged in the 1950s (and even earlier) on large-scale aerospace and defense projects: iterative incremental development, test-driven development, evolutionary design, etc. None of our agile techniques are really new -- they didn't just pop up overnight at a Utah ski resort in 2001 -- so positioning agile as "anti-traditional" or "anti-project management" is not only misleading, it is also misguided.

I agree many when they suggest that you when you say that agile projects are run collaboratively by the team. I just happen to define the team a bit more broadly than you. For me, the team consists of the designers (BAs, architects, UI designers), developers, testers -- and also the project manager/scrum master, and product owner (possibly with a business SME supporting him or her). In some companies there is even an additional role of project sponsor, when the funding body is separate from the product owner, who makes scope and timing decisions.