Agile isn’t for Projects Managers

A question came up recently on a forum asking “What does an Agile Project Manager do”.  

One answer is  “nothing”, that an Agile PM is an oxymoron.   “The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility”  explains in some detail how Agile is basically a project management framework.  However, Agile is a process, it is not a project.  Yes, there are disciplines and processes within an Agile process that rely on good project management skills but mostly I think that what is now often called a “Program Manager” is all that is required – and they do higher level orchestration of resources and release plans and things like that.  Agile represents the operationalization of software development – transforming development from a project (“a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service”) into a repeatable process. Project managers excel where there are no processes – they are experts at inventing processes as they go. Under this hypothesis, calling the Scrum Master or PO a project manager is vaguely insulting to the project management profession…or looked at another way…vaguely insulting to your Agile implementation …. if you need a project manager in your Agile process, your Agile processes can’t be very good!

Within the larger value stream (so outside of the agile development process, then absolutely program managers and even project managers can add an enormous amount of value.


Paul Osborn

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