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SCRUM and Project Management

Last post 10:01 am September 28, 2015 by Daniel Ionescu
6 replies
04:37 pm September 24, 2015

In another post, I made the assertion that SCRUM is a development methodology and not a project management methodology. To me this seem very clear but I find many references to 'SCRUM project management', so perhaps it is worth questioning that assertion.

Here is how I think of SCRUM and Project Management.

Project Management addresses all aspects of a project:
- Defining the project and its goals
- Managing stakeholders
- Managing Risks
- Managing Organizational Change
- Managing the team
- Managing vendors
- Managing Development
- Managing Implementation - not just the system - everything involved, marketing, training, etc.
- Managing Quality - again, not just system quality - there are many other aspects to project quality

I think the confusion comes from the fact that there are many project management aspects to scrum - risk management, communication, etc.

I see SCRUM as a development methodology that can be used on a project or for ongoing development of a system without a project. To me it is similar to other development methodologies - SDLC, iterative, etc.


04:03 am September 25, 2015

By coincidence I was yesterday re-reading the Scrum guided, and as always some new detail struck me. In the paragraph ‘The Sprint’, on page 8 the guide says ‘Each Sprint may be considered a project’.


Both Scrum and traditional methodologies seek to deliver a product or value to the customer. And any methodology should handle the aspects you mention in your post.

However, the major difference between Scrum and classical project management is that Scrum recognizes the difference between complicated projects and complex projects. In complex projects one has to deal with ‘unknown unknowns’ which are by definition impossible to plan and control in advance.

08:56 am September 25, 2015

How would scrum address the other areas I mentioned? You can build a great system, but if the system represents a dramatic shift for the organization for which it is intended, the 'project' can still fail miserably.

I can agree that SCRUM could be considered a project management methodology for development projects that may be technically complex, but simple from a project perspective - involving only one type of development - system, product, course ware, etc. and without a complex environment, multiple stakeholders, organizational resistance, etc.

I think you could try to use SCRUM to do all of these things, maybe have SCRUMS for each capability involved, but I think that's calling a screw a nail so you can user your hammer. PM methodologies are much better suited to address the things I mentioned.

Full Disclosure, I have both developer and project management background and am currently fulfilling the non-development pm functions for two scrum teams.

09:28 am September 25, 2015

Another thought about methodologies, though I consider it a PM function to ensure that organizational change is effectively managed, there are several change methodologies that are much more appropriate and effective. I currently follow the ADKAR process. Likewise, courseware can be developed using SCRUM but there are also development methodologies for that - ADDIE, for example which may be more effective or may be more standard for a particular capability. i think it is important to find and adopt the best methodology for your purpose. However, I also think it is important to try to use SCRUM in many different ways and for many types of projects as doing so will define both it's limits and its strengths.

07:35 pm September 25, 2015

I think Scrum is neither a PM Methodology nor a development method. It's just a framework to get things "done".

Scrum certainly addresses some aspects of PM. In this sense there is a 'similarity'. Hovever, it is not focusing on having full plans upfront, knowing all costs upfront, knowing when which skills are needed, etc. Some parts are left to the self-organizing spirit, others must be handled outside the Scrum team.

Also other ideas of classic PM are not part of Scrum. For instance the project initiation, project approval, project closure. These things need to be done - no doubt about this. I believe Scrum takes over after the approval of the project scope and an approved budget to get started. At this point, all that managment has to do is to support the team, to ensure funding and to provide coffee and other important resource like hardware. offices, team members. Of course, someone also has to take care of contract issues, etc.

That said, Scrum and PM sort of complement each other. Management and administration have to understand that things no longer work the waterfall way. They are no longer "big planners and controllers" but rather "servants" that pave the road for the Scrum team to perform at its best.

09:22 am September 28, 2015

Hallo Jim Taylor,

challange accepted!

As the Scrum Guid says Scrum is a management framework. It is no methodology, not development, not project management.

- Defining the project and its goals (by the Product Owner, Sprint Goals, Product Vision)
- Managing stakeholders (by Product Owner, in Sprint Review)
- Managing Risks (mitigation through inkremental Product development,decision shift and short development cycles, by Product Owner)
- Managing Organizational Change (by Scrum Master, by impediment Backlog)
- Managing the team (by the Development Team)
- Managing vendors (by Product Owner)
- Managing Development (by the Development Team, by the Prouct Owner through PBI)
- Managing Implementation - not just the system - everything involved, marketing, training, etc. (by the Development Team, in Sprint planning, Daily Scrum)
- Managing Quality - again, not just system quality - there are many other aspects to project quality (by the Scrum Team, by DoD)

Explanation: How it is done is not said in the Scrum Guid, but the responsibility should be clear and in some case also the neccessary Meetings. That's why it is called Frame work.

Example for Regarding "Managing Quality"
We have had a very formal and managed test concept implemented in Scrum with: Unit tests, acceptance tests, System tests, Integration tests, Regression tests, user acceptance tests, with planning, documentation, etc. all done within a Sprint in a very lean way (Through modularization and automatization).

Often I hear from the developer, "Why we have to work like this way, this is not the most efficient way" my answer is "It is not the aim of Scrum to make development more efficient. The goal is to make development manageable".
So with scrum you want to have a predictabillity on the project and a sustainable pace in velocity and Quality. Scrum is your strategy to adress certain risks like:
- Fail on time
- Fail on budget
- Fail on customer satisfaction
- Lack of Quality

So in my opinion Scrum is more a strategy than a methodology.

Kind regards


10:01 am September 28, 2015


You can find a possible answer in the book - "Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process"
Chapters 13: Managers.
"Even though the Scrum framework doesn’t specifically mention the manager role, managers still play an important part in an agile organization": Managers defines boundaries, Form teams, Empower Teams, Remove Organizational Impediments, Manage Economics
At the team level regarding Traditional Project Management Responsabilities there is an interesting
Mapping of Project Management Responsibilities to scrum roles.
Eg Risk - PO, SM, Developer, Other managers


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