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Agile or Project ?

Last post 04:33 pm August 12, 2021 by Daniel Wilhite
4 replies
01:40 pm August 11, 2021

I m recently confused about Agile Project Manager or Agile Project Management !. How can there be a "Project" run in Agile ?. Yes there are organisations running projects in Agile but are they really can be termed as 'Agile'  ?.

I keep this argument because in my understanding Project is all about keeping the iron triangle(scope, budget, time) intact whereas in Agile the goal(scope) is intact only for a sprint(time). We may not know what we take in next sprint. So the development 'Done' in 1st sprint should be a releasable MVP. Whatever developed after are 'Increments' and releases goes on till the product is stopped/decommissioned. So are we calling release planning as project ? 

And what does the "Agile Project Manager" do when most of the responsibilities are shared by the Scrum teams themselves(In fact, Scrum teams take care of more than what PMs were doing. For example, I haven't seen any PM coaching the teams when they were working in traditional model). There are some activities like coordination between teams, information update to stakeholders etc which are again taken care by following any of the scaled frameworks like Nexus. If there is still need of a role to oversee such activities, then call them 'Project Coordinator' or 'Project Monitor'. 

Anyone can share your opinion where you see it different.

05:22 pm August 11, 2021

What would you define a project as being? Might a Sprint be thought of as a project which aids empiricism under complex conditions?

05:33 pm August 11, 2021, PRINCE2 and PMBOK just to name 3 project management methodologies,all have traditional and agile tracks.  The 'iron triangle' can be used for both agile and traditional, but in different ways: 

Traditional = The scope is fixed with the schedule and resources being estimated. 

Agile = Resources and schedule (time boxes) are fixed, and the scope is estimated (forecasted). 

The PM for both tracks would usually seek to ensure that their team are versed in the project management methodology as well as the agile framework that will be used for the project. 

07:19 am August 12, 2021

Hi Ian Mitchell

To me, There is no need of a 'project' as a container any more in agile way of working. Because the teams were re organised to feature teams to take care of value streams, teams are going to be permanent so dependencies will be reduced, sprint/release timelines are fixed, and budget for sprint/release is constant, Vision and scope priorities are set by PO not PM and employee growth will be taken care by some leads. This setup should work even for a product or service build from the scratch. 

The problem I see is many organisations struggling to change the culture after they invested in Agile transformations. One of the reason i think could be the 'project mode' of working. As long as they carry the project container, they couldn't get rid of some old practices and roles which are not mandatory now. 

04:33 pm August 12, 2021

First I'd like to state that the word "Agile" is a sales/marketing term used by companies trying to capitalize on the manifesto for agile software development by creating process and methodologies they sell.  In the original intent of the manifesto, agile is used as an adjective to indicate the ability to quickly adapt based upon learnings.

I'm going to point to this definition of "project"  from Merriam-Webster dictionary. (  Since I did not use a noun definition above, I will not use one here. I am going to reference the verb.

transitive verb


ato devise in the mind DESIGN

bto plan, figure, or estimate for the future

There is an event in Scrum called Sprint Planning which is used to devise a plan for a body of work that the team estimates can be accomplished in the future timebox of a sprint to meet the Definition of Done while providing value. Given the above definition and my paraphrasing of the Scrum Guide, it seems apparent to me that Scrum's Sprints are indeed projects. 

As to the "Agile Project Manager" topic.  That is a job title that a company decides they want to use.  The Scrum Guide does not have any job titles provided.  It has 3 roles that need to be fulfilled and there is not a single use of the word "title" in the Scrum Guide.  So it really doesn't matter what title the individual is given in the companies systems. The concern is that the duties and responsibilities of the 3 Scrum roles are accomplished. The Scrum Guide also does not state that a single individual has to fulfill the roles of Scrum Master and explicit states that there are more than one Developer.  It does state for the Product Manager that 

The Product Owner is one person, not a committee. 

But it also states that the work done by the Product Owner can be delegated to others.  The concept of having one person held accountable is to simplify communications and decisions. 

Scrum is a framework, not a methodology or process.  Stop getting caught up in the details, focus on the reasons and benefits.  

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