This question came from a client: What is the project manager’s role in scrum?
In answer to your question about project managers, there is no project manager role in scrum. The duties of a project manager gets split between the product owner, scrum master, and the development team.
The product owner has the vision of the product and is the business representative accountable for making sure the business is kept up to date about the product, the schedule, and the budget. The product owner does this in multiple ways including:
- Grooming and refining the product backlog
- Understanding the development team’s velocity so he/she has a sense of when backlog items may be ready for release
- Communicating frequently with the stakeholders
- In the sprint review meeting, helping the team demonstrate new features and facilitating conversations with the stakeholders on the direction of the product and the product backlog
- Sharing and maintaining a budget
The scrum master is responsible for coaching the development team, protecting the team from changes during the sprint, training the team in scrum, helping them overcome obstacles, coaching and supporting the product owner, facilitating scrum ceremonies (meetings like the retrospective). The scrum master is truly a servant leader. They also are the agile champion for the whole organization. They would work with executives and other departments to have scrum work. For example – as a scrum master I would work to coordinate the work between scrum teams and non scrum teams if needed.
The development team takes work into a sprint and then they themselves decide who does what and when they do it. They have a daily scrum everyday to update each other on status and plan the day – so there is no need for a project manager to hand out tasks or manage people to make sure they are working.
So what I ask project managers when they are switching to scrum is – Where do you find your passion? Is it in working with business, developing a product vision and getting that product to market, managing the status, deciding which work should be done, spending a lot of time with stakeholders getting their opinions and buy in?
Or do you love spending time with the development team, having them win, solving problems or removing obstacles, helping people work better together, being an agile champion, training and coaching, creating retrospectives, being more in the weeds of how the development team works without being their manager or telling them what to do. Helping the development team to be self organizing.
This usually gives project managers a good direction of which scrum role they would be best suited for. It’s best that people choose where they want to provide value rather than assigning them to one role or another. I always ask project managers – Where do you think you could create the most value? That is everyone’s job in scrum, to create value anywhere they can.
Hope this was helpful.