The Role Of a Project Manager in an Agile Environment
By Mkateko Shibambu
Let us first understand the Project Manager’s role in a traditional/waterfall environment. The PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide - 4th Edition states that a Project Manager is known to be responsible for successful implementation of a project through the five stages/processes of a project lifecycle: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing the project – see figure 1. Included in these phases is identifying requirements, management of stakeholders and balancing the competing project constraints arising during the project. The project constraints include the:
An effective Project Manager is required to be knowledgeable about Project Management, apply this project management knowledge in order to drive their performance and that of their team, and have positive personal attitude as it will be spread out to the project team. These are key characteristics of an effective Project Manager.
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PRINCE2 (PRojects IN a Controlled Environment version 2) is another waterfall methodology and states that the project management project lifecycle and processes are: starting a project, initiating a project, directing a project, managing a stage boundary, controlling a stage, managing product delivery and closing a project – see figure 2. A Project Manager is responsible for ensuring that the team performs and delivers the product accordingly as initially defined with Management ( the Project Board). The Project Manager also ensures that there is clear requirements communication between the project board and the project team to ensure quality delivery.
The Agile methodology seems to be emerging very fast with most organisations requiring to do away with waterfall and utilize Agile rather. For some organisations, Agile has proven to work well in the sense that implementation happens timeously in small chunks of releases instead of a big-bang implementation that has a high probability of failure if other detailed risks and issues are missed. The stages of Agile product development life cycle include: requirements gathering, planning, design, development, release, and track and monitoring. Agile aims at releasing small chunks of the full product in sprints (popularly defined in a two week period) rather than a big bang full release. The cycle is iterated until the full product is developed and released.
I have worked in a fully waterfall environment, as well as waterfall but being so-called Agile, and I am currently working in a seemingly fully Agile environment. There are different roles in this fully Agile environment of which they include: Project Manager, Product Manager, Product Owner, Scrum Master, and others. These roles are a combination of waterfall and Agile roles although we call ourselves fully Agile. We – as a team call our environment fully Agile, absorbing this information from our organisation’s Senior Management, who manage appointment of these roles.
A Project Manager works very closely with top management for strategic decision making. A Project Manager still maintains the role of being the sole responsible person for successful implementation of the quality defined product, and also supports the team throughout the iterations and shield them from distractions. Although there are different frameworks in Agile, the roles within Agile do not differ much, for example, the role of a Scrum Master. A Scrum Master works very closely with the Project Manager to close the communication gap between the project team and top management. A Project Manager manages project/product risks while the Scrum Master manages the team’s performance and impediments. In waterfall, a Project manager works very closely with the delivery team while in Agile, the Project Manager works with the team indirectly – managing team communication through the Scrum Master.
Although the Project Manager is responsible for successful release of a quality product, the Scrum Master is the one that manages the delivery of this quality product while working with the delivery team, since the Project Manager does not communicate directly with the delivery team. The Project Manager manages time delivery more than quality. The Scrum Master manages quality delivery of the product. The Scrum Master also manages impediments as well as the development/delivery team while the Project Manager manages risks and address them with strategic management.
Then the question arises, do we still need Project Managers in Agile? Although there is no Project Manager role in any Agile methodology, in real work life environments, we still have Project Managers. To differentiate the two roles, both are responsible for delivery of a quality product. However, a Project Manager works strategically with the management team (project sponsor, project owner/requestor, etc.) to define the product’s epics, while the Scrum Master receives management defined epics from the Project Manager and work with the delivery/development team to break-down the epics into features, stories and tasks. A Scrum Master also manages impediments from at development team level and resolve what is possible in his capability. Impediments that are rated high are now channelled to a Project Manager to be managed strategically by the management team.
Although organisations that are going Agile see a need to diminish Project Managers’ roles in their organisation, it will be challenging as there is also still a need to understand roles like Product Manager – which is a strategic role as well and might at times overlap with the Project Manager role, if they work together in a team to deliver the same product. Are Project Managers still required in Agile? According to my opinion and how things are working out in my organisation, my answer is actually yes! Project Managers are still required and must work closely with the Product Managers and Scrum Masters. Although there can be a confusion which can cause conflict of responsibilities between a Project Manager and Scrum Master at times. Figure 3 illustrates clarity of the Project Manager and Scrum Master roles.
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Top 5 Agile Trends To Take You Safe Through 2018 And Beyond
By Shubhranshu Agarwal
In recent times, Agile has proved to be more than just a buzzword in the IT industry.The amazing results of Agile project management have widened its scope for implementation in other than IT industry also; therefore, we often come across the terms like “being Agile” and “doing Agile”.More and more organizations and enterprises irrespective of size and business niche are adopting Agile with an eye on commitment, delivery values, profitability, customer’s satisfaction etc. Because of continuous Agile evolvement, you need to align Agile practices with the latest trends to compete with excellence in 2018 and beyond. Following are the top five Agile trends that will help you plan and sail safe through the competitive marketing environment. 1) Short-Term Activities Oriented Agile Training:Organizing the short-term activities oriented intensive workshop/training, planned to train the participants for implementation of specific skill in real projects, is a new emerging trend in Agile organizations. The long and exhaustive classroom training of 4 or 5 days are no longer a preference. The short–term Agile workshops/training leave the Agile team members with new ideas and cohesive understanding of the Agile roadmap. The improved capability to execute short iterations supports to market the product early. In addition, Agile workshops are helping the organizations to develop multi-disciplinary Agile specialists to maximize overall performance.2) Rapid Feedback:Predictions are good to plan but the ever-changing working conditions, new demands, and altered quality standards etc deviate the results. The biggest trend in Agile management for 2018, I noticed recently, is to focus more on rapid feedbacks of developments rather than depending on the predicted outcome. Rapid feedback is vital for Agile teams to understand the way project development is going. Creating a friendly environment allowing every team member to comment and even seek the feedback saves considerable time besides giving a true picture of progress. Continuous Integration (CI) is the best tool to maximize the benefits of rapid feedback.3. Embracing Agile Spirit: Over the years, a number of organizations twisted & curled Agile methodology to meet their interests and suitability; as a result, some of these tasted just the semi-success. The new trend shows that organizations are embracing the Agile spirit as a part of organizational culture. Organizations are conducting short-period objective oriented trainings to strengthen the Agile mindset of team members.The application of modern Agile principles leads the organizations to deliver more values with satisfactory profit. There are four core characteristics of Agile mindset - value matters, small cycles matters, ecosystem in entire organization matters and culture matters. Agile Spirit embracement can be improved by following the five simple tactics- be transparent, be disciplined, ensure participation, get everyone aligned and set up collaboration as an Agile tool. 4) Cloud-Based Solutions:More Agile teams are adopting cloud-based solutions to find new ways for envision (prediction), coding, testing and deployment faster than they are/were doing now with the intention to have an edge over their competitors. Server-less computing has become the favorite of Agile teams; as, it reduces the need of ‘always on’ traditional server infrastructure, in addition to reducing the infrastructure and operational costing. The organizations that follow cloud-based Agile methodology have enormous competitive advantages supporting for higher quality, greater agility, faster market responsiveness, reducing costing, improving client’s experience etc. It can be said that Cloud technology is going to be an Agile accelerator.5) More Focus on ‘Business Value’ of User Stories:“If you can’t measure the results, you can’t improve the process” fine fits to modern Agile culture. Today, Agile organizations are more focused on measuring the lagging indicators like ROI of new products/ features, Net Promoter Score (NPS) of team members & customers, cycle time and operational stability etc. Using three-dimensional metrics, encompassing complexity, ROI and business value, is the new approach to measure the business value of a user story. Identifying business values before writing a user story rather than writing a user story and then evaluating the business values is a significant shift in modern Agile practice.Summary:Agile culture adoption is growing fast in organizations around the world. Internal Agile coaches, consistent Agile practices, and implementation of a common tool across Agile teams are the top three factors encouraging businesses to continue their Agile journey. According to ‘12th annual State of Agile report’, the top five Agile benefits reported by the organizations are –Better project visibility – through- rapid feedbackFaster delivery – through – cloud-based solutionEnhanced productivity – through – activities oriented learning workshopsImproved ability to manage the changing priorities – through – deep focus on business value of a user storyBetter IT alignment – through – Agile spirit embracementKnowledgeHut provides objective-oriented customized Agile training that helps the organizations match the steps with the latest trends in Agile methodology.
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Agile Scrum Roles And Responsibilities
By Samuel Nicholson
Agile, Scrum, Waterfall, Kanban are different project management frameworks which are helping the companies to increase the productivity. These frameworks were created by the IT companies and especially web and application development companies because they needed a path but on which each and every employee can perform his daily tasks. However, out of these four frameworks, the Scrum is the most widely used framework in all the companies despite their nature of work. That is why in this article we are going to discuss the Scrum in detail to give you a better idea about this iterative framework which is making easier for the companies to complete their project.
The basic objective of the Scrum is to keep the entire team on the same page throughout the project. The scrum framework allows the cross-functional work of the team of 4 to 10 members to provide the regular details and information sharing liberty so they can produce the best result. Scrum is a more like philosophical than the technical. It is a framework that can only be used as the guidance and there is no constant in it. All the success of the Scrum depends on the interactions among the stakeholders as it does the process.
Scrum roles and responsibilities:
The techniques of Scrum has become very popular and now considered to be the most important thing to do before starting any project. That is why the demand of the scrum masters and other professions related to the scrum has also increased, and people now are searching about the term scrum more.
The scrum is a very specific and précised framework that is why it comprised on the following roles.
Because the term Agile is often get associated with the project managers that is why many people believe that the Scrum Master is also a term for the project managers. However, the Scrum Master serves very different purposes than the project manager. The Scrum Master works as a facilitator rather than the authoritative person who is responsible for the project delivery. The Scrum Master is a coach, motivator and problem solver who can only assist the team by using all his experience of Scrum framework.
According to many Scrum Masters, applying Scrum within an organization is not the actual scrum process. You have to make the organization to accept your new role and then change its culture which is the most difficult thing to do in any company. The prominent role of every Scrum Master should be to enhance the power of the team by committing them to the sprint goals without any interference from the management. Let’s discuss the major roles of all the above points separately.
The Scrum Master is considered to be the top-dog in every organization because companies usually hire them and don’t treat them as permanent employ that is why they are with no authority.
It is their duty to remove all the hindrance or obstruction in the way of achieving any goal.
It is also their role to enforce scrum ceremonies and processes.
They are the ones who commit to goals and deadlines on behalf of the team.
The product owner is responsible for conveying the vision of the stakeholders to the team.
They have the authority to alter the scope.
The Product Owners are responsible for the return on investment (ROI) that is why they occupy an authoritative position in the firm.
Because they convey the vision of the stakeholders that is why they are the voice of the stakeholders.
Not only with the team, but they also communicate with the stakeholders about progress and problems.
The Scrum Team is responsible for all the activities that lead them towards their sprint goals.
They have to work with the Scrum Master to prioritize the items from the product backlog in the sprint planning.
Once committed, it is their responsibility to fulfil the commitment and deliver the agreed results on time with great quality.
The Scrum Master is not responsible for keeping his team organized that is they it is the duty of the Scrum Team to get self-organized.
They have to be agile in the office and have to attend every standup and other ceremonies.
They have to participate in all the meetings despite their nature and have to ensure that all the findings of the meetings are getting practically addressed in the project.
The Stakeholder has to keep a healthy relationship with the Product Owner in order to share every detail regarding his project.
The Stakeholder is responsible for conveying his wishes and concerns to the product owner or else the product owner would not be responsible for his project quality and time duration.
The Stakeholder has to provide regular input to queries from the Product Owner.
Prioritizing the work affectively with the Product Owner is another job that the Stakeholder has to do to ensure his project development.
Keep taking updates or keep giving updates regarding any change in the plans.
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