The True Role of a PM in Agile Projects

I was reading an excellent article on what is the True role of a PM in Agile Projects…  Worth reading (book marking) it…

"What does the PM do on agile projects? If the team self organizes and selects their own work from the prioritized feature list, should the PM just buy pizza and keep out of the way? Well they are short changing the team if that is all they do. Rather than a fear of role erosion, PM’s should be maximizing business value delivery and looking to broaden their skill set with more leadership practices."

Four Core Roles

Obstacle Removal: "This means solving problems and removing obstacles that may be hampering the teams work. At the daily stand-up meeting where the team reports progress, planned work, and issues, the PM needs to take note of the issues and make their resolution that day’s to-do list.."

This is an very important thing when you are managing agile projects. Identifying and removing obstacles is the key thing. With my personal experience whenever we meet in the standup, we take a note of issues and try to fix them. If issues are not fixed and no resolution is made, we post keep them in a common place, so that we all are aware of it and its tracked. The team understands it as an important thing and it definitely helps in identifying and fixing gaps.

Diversion Shield: "When working closer with the business it is often tempting for business folks to make side requests for changes or enhancements direct to developers that sidetrack planned development effort. While agile projects positively encourage these business insights and requests, the proper channel is through the iteration planning meeting or requests to the Product Backlog Owner. The PM needs to remind people that requests should go through those channels so that we can maintain iteration focus and establish a reliable velocity (progress metrics) to help plan future work".

Whether we do agile or not, this is an very important thing. Doing AGILE definitely improves Visibility. Whenever there is any change that comes in, the team discusses that in daily standup and everybody in the team is aware of what’s happening. Even if the PM is not part of the discussion, the next day he will be aware of it. In our project, the team members works very closely with the customer and they all will be having Skype chats or calls with the customer. We have a team rule that whenever there is a discussion we post them in a discussion thread and we all have subscribed to the thread so that we get ALERTS.  The next day, WE discuss this in the standup and decide on adding the requirement in the backlog and prioritizing it.

(Re)Communicate the Project Vision: "This may seem like an odd one, but a critical role of a project leader is to communicate and re-communicate the project vision. By creating a clear image of the completed system and project goals, stakeholders can check and align their decisions and work towards the common project objective. "

As we go more into the development, its very easy for anybody to forget the vision. Reemphasizing the vision of the project is very important so that the team will be always focused. We have goals defined for every sprint and we work towards achieving our goals for the sprint. It definitely helps the team to be focused.

Carry Food and Water: "We need to provide resources in the form of tools, compensation and encouragement to keep the team nourished and productive. People cannot continue to contribute iteration after iteration to the best of their ability fuelled by professionalism and duty alone. We need to learn what motivates the team members as individuals and finds ways to reward them for good work. Saying a sincere “thank you” for some hard work is a great place to start."

I couldn’t agree more than what he has said…

Ten Principles to Manage Agile Projects By:

In addition to these four core roles there are of course a host of other activities the PM should keep in mind.  Jeffery Pinto in “Project Leadership: from Theory to Practice” has a great list of principles that includes the following:

1) Learn the team members’ needs

2) Learn the project’s requirements

3) Act for the simultaneous welfare of the team and the project

4) Create an environment of functional accountability

5) Have a vision of the completed project

6) Model the desired behavior towards this vision

7) Resist meddling and recognize team conflict as a positive step

8) Manage with an eye towards ethics

9) Take time to reflect on the project

10) Challenge the process

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