The Fantasy of the Agile Job Manager

The Myth of the Agile Project Manager

In between Santa Claus, Large Foot and the Agile Task Supervisor, which exists? Few folks argue for the existence of Significant Foot or Santa Claus, though most consider that Agile Challenge Supervisors exist.

I would contend that none of them exist, specially the Agile project supervisor. (BTW we utilized a photo of Chewbacca the wookie for Significant Foot since all the pictures we had of Huge Foot were being blurry.)

Why do I feel that there is no these kinds of issue as an Agile Venture Supervisor? I feel that placing just one person in spot to do these “project manager” pursuits is counterproductive. Moreover, many of the actions that a task supervisor would do are pointless in an Agile ecosystem. Below are some precise examples:

  • Intermediary – A project supervisor in Agile or Scrum would be an unwanted middleman concerning the crew carrying out the function and the customer. In many conditions, a crucial portion of the undertaking supervisor role is targeted on asking for standing from the crew and then reporting that position to the shoppers. Why? The crew doesn’t need to have another person to report their standing or control anticipations, and no just one outdoors the crew ought to be generating promised that have to be shipped by the staff. Like all other intermediaries in Agile, this is inefficient and at it is worst, can guide to loss of life march initiatives.
  • Useful resource Coordinator – Standard assignments are operate by phases with many professionals coming on and off the job at distinctive occasions. Given that those people “resources” are all committed to many jobs, it falls to the venture manager to be the glue. They scurry around to make absolutely sure that the means are functioning on their job, alternatively than just one of the other tasks. (And BTW, the job professionals of people other assignments are executing the really similar point.) By contrast, an Agile staff is focused and self-organizing. No 1 needs to make confident they are operating.
  • The Sensible Just one – Undertaking supervisors are likely to be positioned as previously mentioned or superior to the team they converse on behalf of the crew, they immediate the do the job and they make absolutely sure every little thing is going according to their system. Whether or not or not they have official posture ability in the business, they tend to act as if individuals people today who are “assigned” to their project are beneath them.
  • Document Producer – When some documentation is absolutely required, the scope of the documentation on common projects normally grows like most cancers. Individuals tend to err on the facet of also much documentation, fairly than remaining compliant with barely sufficient documentation. Most of the effort and hard work that goes into getting ready, circulating and reviewing, having signoffs and storing documents is pure waste. Most of that documentation is never go through – even by the people who signal off on it.
  • Variance Tracker – Job supervisors devote a great deal of time upfront preparing a in depth system for the perform and then reporting position in opposition to that program. A lot of their time is invested monitoring the ‘variance’ to their system and then attempting to determine out why factors did not go according to plan. At it’s worst, this amounts to hrs fiddling with an MS Challenge routine to get it to reflect the truth of how the get the job done is being carried out. As we will see under, that type of action is overhead. In lean conditions, this is “waste” which should be removed.

The relaxation of this short article will examine how Agile job administration routines are dealt with in Agile and Scrum. We will search at the Agile Values and Rules, and the Scrum Guide.

There is No Challenge Supervisor in the Agile Manifesto

The use of the term Agile started out in 2001 with the introduction of the Agile Manifesto which features 4 Agile Values and 12 Agile Ideas.

There is no mention of an agile venture manager in the Agile Manifesto. The 4 Agile Values and 12 Agile Concepts really don’t explicitly say that there is no agile project manager, but they do define a way of contemplating and doing the job that is centered on inspired and empowered group members that perform as a self-organizing workforce. This decreases the require for another person outside the house the workforce to venture control them.

Here are two certain Agile Concepts that converse to empowerment and self-organization:

#5 – Make tasks all over motivated people. Give them the ecosystem and assist they will need, and rely on them to get the work done.

Most knowledge staff right now are self-motivated. This basic principle suggests to get people persons into an atmosphere where they can do their most effective perform. All those individuals never have to have a project manager to immediate their operate, coordinate their responsibilities or remind them of deadlines.

#11 – The very best architectures, demands, and patterns arise from self-arranging groups.

This theory says that if we want the ideal remedies, we require to enable teams self-arrange. This indicates we do not set a human being (this kind of as an agile undertaking supervisor) about the team to explain to them how to get the operate carried out. Allow the persons closest to the function and actually performing the function make your mind up the ideal way to get it performed.

There is no Agile Project Supervisor in the Scrum Guideline

Scrum is the most well known agile framework in use now. And Scrum doesn’t include a role for an agile venture supervisor both. There are only a few roles in the Scrum Framework: The Product Owner, the Advancement Workforce, and the Scrum Learn.

Scrum practitioners really do not acquire into the strategy that there is 1 man or woman outside the team who has the part of venture manager. The strategy of a person who would plan, coordinate the function of other individuals, track variance, make files, and handle jobs and report standing for the staff just doesn’t healthy with Scrum. Any important challenge management activities talked about higher than are split throughout the a few roles, with the bulk remaining taken on by the Progress Workforce or the Product Owner.

Quite a few people confuse and conflate the Scrum Master position with the challenge supervisor position. Leadership teams frequently stare at me in disbelief when I tell them that there is no task supervisor. Ken Schwaber, co-creator of Scrum, may perhaps have inadvertently included to the confusion when he titled his next Scrum ebook, Agile Job Management with Scrum.

Ken was a lot more careful when he co-authored the Scrum Guide, the definitive tutorial to Scrum. He and co-writer Jeff Sutherland made sure that challenge supervisor is conspicuously absent from the Scrum Guide.

Why Some Men and women Wrestle with the Thought of No Venture Manager in Agile

Some folks truly struggle with the thought that there would be no task supervisor in Agile. The plan of a crew without having a project supervisor does not suit with their hierarchical worldview. They see the environment as a pyramid.

This hierarchical worldview retains items basic. It makes it uncomplicated to see who to blame when things go incorrect. There is just one distinct solitary throat to choke in this natural environment.

Those who have the hierarchical worldview simply cannot (or won’t?) get their head around this Scrum Learn position. They consistently check with me, “What does the Scrum Master do” and even following I demonstrate it, most erroneously suppose that the Scrum Learn is a venture manager.

They want a one throat to choke. “We need accountability” they exclaim, “If every person is liable, then no one is responsible”. (See my relevant article on this: The One Throat to Choke in Agile)

Advice to Venture Supervisors: Don’t Struggle the Technique

If you are a task supervisor, I motivate you to accept the unavoidable. Really don’t struggle for the importance of a project management part in agile companies. Alternatively, recognize Agile and participate in a purpose that provides the most value.

Job supervisors can be a Solution Proprietor or Dev Group member on a Scrum Team. They will will need to adopt an agile state of mind to increase the worth that they provide to an Agile team.

This can be a problem for project administrators. Most undertaking manager’s expertise and individual abilities are out of alignment with the fashion of servant leadership essential for Agile teams. And most venture professionals are not fascinated (or ready) to roll up their sleeves and contribute to the beneficial perform that is desired on the crew.

Agile is not anti-challenge administration at all. It is just that Agile assumes you are doing the job with determined knowledge employees who are able of self-arranging. This cuts down management overhead, and it puts the accountability for effects on individuals folks who are in a position to effect those people outcomes.

PMI is little by little checking out the position of the PM in Agile jobs. I really don’t imagine they’ve bought it sorted still, but the not too long ago revealed Agile Practice Manual may possibly be a start. Thankfully, even the Job Management Institute did not consist of the term “Agile Task Manager” in the new Agile Exercise Tutorial. [See my review of the PMI Agile Practice Guide here.]

And you should really do not send out me loathe mail justifying your worth as a challenge manager, or telling me that every single job needs a task manager to be that single issue of accountability.

Fantastic Information – Providers are Still Attempting to Employ Agile Venture Professionals

There is some excellent news for venture supervisors who want to operate in an Agile ecosystem. Selecting managers, recruiters, and HR departments seem to be to be primarily unaware that Agile challenge administrators really don’t exist. In reality, there is fairly a little bit of confusion in the marketplace as discovered by these common occupation postings:

  • Scrum Task Manager
  • Undertaking Supervisor / Scrum Master
  • Agile PM/Scrum Grasp
  • Senior Agile Project Manager
  • Challenge Manager Agile

A lot more Great News – Agile Undertaking Administration Exists

If there are no Agile Challenge Professionals, can there be Agile Job Administration? I would argue that of course perhaps there is Agile Job Administration. I never believe that that the scope of the pursuits is the same as typically comprehended, or that we devote 1 human being outdoors the staff to be the agile challenge supervisor for these activities.

I also never imagine we really should force all new solution improvement function into the challenge paradigm. (You can read this article to discover about how a ‘project mindset’ hinders undertaking administrators.)

Other folks appear to concur that Agile Task Administration exists. Sanjiv Augustine, the creator of Taking care of Agile Projects, defines Agile Task Management as:

“…the get the job done of energizing, empowering, and enabling project groups to quickly and reliably supply small business worth by engaging clients and repeatedly understanding and adapting to their altering requires and environments.”
—Sanjiv Augustine, Managing Agile Tasks

Wikipedia lists Agile Task Administration:

“…Agile undertaking administration is an iterative and incremental process of taking care of the design and create pursuits for engineering, information and facts technologies, and new merchandise or service enhancement jobs in a hugely versatile and interactive fashion, for instance Agile software advancement.”


I characterize Agile Challenge Administration as a way of thinking and organizing ourselves to deliver applying Agile Values and Principles. I’ve penned about that extensively in my e book which I titled, quite ironically: Agile Venture Administration Your Nuts and Bolts Manual to Good results

What are your thoughts? Does your firm have Agile Project Professionals? Do they conflate the Scrum Grasp and Project Manager function?

This report initially appeared in this article and has been republished with permission