Most often companies embracing agile practices go through different moments of self truth and stories of shifts in thinking and the experience that can be termed as close to realizing your true self. All the while having been used to a set way of doing things turning agile is almost equal to turning a new leaf in your life book. It needs very strong management involvement and commitment from all the stakeholders to make it a success. It is a given that people understand what this means and act accordingly to achieve the end objective.
Scrum teams are self organizing : What does this mean , it means they know what to do how to do and how much to do in a particular iteration. Lets keep this simple for now meaning we all understand the basics of scrum at some level that it is refined quicker and leaner and meaner version over your traditional project management practices. Now there are various key role in the scrum iteration or sprints as they are referred to. As per scrum principles there exists no project manager with a title at least in formal terms. What do existing project managers in the system do ? Go find a hobby of their liking and pursue it or go on a short sabbatical and be back when required.This again depends from organisation to organisation how the role is defined and what roles a manager typically plays over there.
Project Manager in smaller organisations
If it is a small organisation or setup then a project manager gets to play the role of the scrum master or product owner. He/she clones himself into the roles of a scrum master or product owner and plays his part. Ideally you should not mix and match product owner and scrum master as the focus each role has is different. Here again it depends on the maturity of the organisation or the luxury of having dedicated roles if the team size is considerably small. There is no set rules here just because your into agile or scrum does not mean your are fully agile or aren’t. Companies take time to achieve this state over a period of time and it is not overnight.
Scrum Master : Involved with the team coordinates with external parties and ensures team’s voice is heard well outside of the scrum discussions , is responsible for the outcomes , resources and people. He is like a project manager turned well wisher of the team who is not seen as someone who can be career limiting if you cross swords with. A refined project manager with strong head balanced over his shoulders knows where to give the team its due and is finally accountable for it.
Product Owner : Interfaces with the team for things outside of the team as a single point of contact. Defines the product / project scope , prioritizing the items of the product backlog. What gets done now and in future iterations? Speaks for the end user and wears the customer’s hat.
Scrum Team : We are the new kids on the block who do not need to be told what to do. Everyday we meet and exactly figure out what each one fills up his plate with. We do each share others burden and know where to meet each day and say hi , hello to all in our team at a fixed time thanks to scrum else we would be brooding next to our monitors pretending to be immersed in work having no time for meager social protocols.
Project Manager in bigger organisations : Here the role of a project would be that of managing expectations of external stakeholders , planning resources , budget , team transitions , resource transitions, talking internally / externally to other teams and interfacing with them to create a organisation best practices / repository of information. Appraisals for the team in coordination with the scrum master.Taking receiving feedback from resources who are now not directly reporting etc. There are various other things he could be involved in such as following up on release closure activities of previous cycles ( agile or non agile as the case may be ). So simply it means that every time there is a change people get pushed and moved around and challenges everyone’s status quo. Accept the change move ahead all get to play there part and scrum is not the red revolution around the corner once things have stabilized and the initial resistance melts down.
What is there for us in a scrum / agile environment ?
In fact all of this requires the entire team / managers to be geared towards preparing for what is expected of their teams. Mailers , tech talks and other organisational propaganda , brown bag lunches all help here. In fact the question for all would be what is expected of oneself as we go through the churns in a scrum or agile environment.