Project Management in Agile Environments

Last post 01:36 pm July 12, 2018
by Emma - Forum Spam William
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02:02 pm July 3, 2017

Good afternoon everyone,

I am currently a Master's student at Edinburgh Napier University, and have chosen to undertake the topic of Project Management in Agile Development. The main research that I am conducting is a survey that seeks to test the role of Leadership and Management within Agile environments. The survey is geared more towards Scrum, as that is the area that has been most widely researched in academia.

If it is not too much trouble, I would appreciate it if you could complete the survey linked below. In pilot testing, the average time was between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. The more responses I get back, the better my analysis can be.

Most questions contain an "Other" option where appropriate. This option allows the respondent to fill in their own answer. If a question does not pertain to your personal experience, and none of the answers fit, please use the "Other" option to comment that.

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this, and any comments or questions pertaining to the survey can be addressed to me here.

https://survey.napier.ac.uk/n/zz39f.aspx

There is no logging in, and the entire survey is anonymous.

06:45 pm July 3, 2017

Sorry Joseph, attempted to take your survey, but so many of the questions were project-related that it became too difficult to answer.

 

FYI - there is no concept of a "project" in Scrum.

06:25 am July 4, 2017

there is no concept of a "project" in Scrum.

I vehemently disagree. In fact, if this were true, Scrum would be inapplicable in a lot of business setting. I read this claim a lot, yet I never saw somebody back it up. If there is no concept of a project in Scrum, how can Scrum Inc. claim Scrum has a 300% success rate over waterfall (cf. https://www.scruminc.com/)? And I daresay Jeff Sutherland knows a bit about Scrum. Where does the Scrum Guide say it cannot be applied to projects?

Sure, a Scrum-based project will measure its success differently than a waterfall-based one, because nobody will try to fix scope, schedule and resources up-front. But it is entirely possible to run projects with Scrum. If you have a different opinion please do share it, Timothy. I am eager to understand your position.

As for the survey itself: Timothy is right in the sense that there should not be a position called "Project Manager", on which the survey seems to focus a great deal, in Scrum. However in organisations currently transitioning to Scrum, such roles may still be around, so the questions still have merit. We should never forget that not everyone lives in a mystical paradise of Scrum, where the entire company is agile. Some of us are working in a grass root movement to get it established in the first place ;-)

08:23 am July 4, 2017

Scrum has no concept of a project in so far as the framework is agnostic about using them as a value delivery vehicle. They are not mentioned in the Scrum Guide beyond the Sprint context, which may be considered analagous to a project in some ways. This is not the same as asserting that Scrum cannot also work in other project contexts.

10:05 am July 4, 2017

Thank you all for your comments. 

I realized, after many negative comments via a LinkedIn forum, that my survey lacked a clear introduction to why the questions are being asked.

The survey is asking two main questions, the first of which has two parts.

First - Does the project manager role still exist within Agile environments.  Yes or No

Both academic and professional literature have stated many times that this role still exists within the world of Agile. Which is why the survey comes across as bias towards a hierarchy within the team. 

If yes, what is the role of the project manager, and how has this role evolved from a traditional plan-driven team.

If no, who assumes the typical duties, that are not defined in Agile, of a project manager.

Example: Salaries, Promotions, team building, conflict resolution, performance reviews, ect.

 

The final part to this survey is asking whether there is a need for a project manager within Agile. Many articles, both academic and professional state that as a team matures in Agile, then the need for a project manager to facilitate coordination increases. I am testing the opposite. Agile teams with lower levels of agile maturity could benefit from a project manager when conflict arises within the team, and to maintain some of the administrative duties that the PM role would have.

Julian, you are right in saying that this survey asks much about the role of project manager, and I hope the reasons given above help to clarify that. 

 

 

06:25 am July 5, 2017

Well that makes sense to me. Thank you, Ian.

01:58 pm July 5, 2017

@ Julian

 

To me, a "project" is defined as a temporary endeavor that is designed to create a unique product, service or result, based upon a specific business case.   A sprint does resemble this concept as a temporary vehicle for delivering business value (and is the only mention of "project" in the Scrum Guide), but I personally refrain from equating a sprint to a project or mini-project (to avoid the trap of relabeling existing processes).

 

Scrum is not prescriptive about how the business value is identified and tracked, and while organizations transitioning to Scrum may still employ "projects" and traditional roles like a project manager, QA Manager, Team Lead, etc., this is just a reflection of an immature or incorrect application of Scrum.   While it may be possible to manage projects through Scrum, I would question whether it is preferable to do so, considering the waste involved (communication, translation, terminology, preservation of non-Scrum practices/roles).

 

It is interesting to me though that you would take my statement about Scrum not having a concept of a project, and state that my position was somehow in conflict with Jeff Sutherland, or not based in reality.   Surely if you've read this claim a lot, you would have considered what their statement was truly based on?

 

 

 

 

 

 

08:07 am July 6, 2017

I still object to the notion of projects being a sign of agile immaturity.  My company develops software for technical domains. The customer does indeed want to have a unique piece of software to integrate into his system, for example a satellite. Yes, this is not the same as continuously delivering new versions of a product. But it can still be done using Scrum and in facts, there are benefits to it: As in many domains, customers usually change their minds about requirements. The customer still benefits from frequent review of increments. And the beauty of it: When money runs out, the customer can walk away with a functioning piece of software that has at least the higher priority stuff implemented.

In fact, there is literature on how to apply Scrum to such projects. IIRC, The Scrum Field Guide by Mitch Lacey talks a lot about projects. If I understand you correctly, you think Scrum should be applied to product development only and I disagree.

There are a lot of businesses who provide project-based services and software to their customers. And I think they can benefit from Scrum a lot. It's just a different business model than product development.

12:09 pm July 6, 2017

Scrum is agnostic about projects; the considerations you mention are real enough and hence a project model is not excluded.

My advice though is to maintain a healthy skepticism towards projects. They are not necessarily the best funding vehicle for iterative and incremental delivery, and a lot of old waterfall baggage can be dragged over with them when an organization tries to implement Scrum.

02:53 am July 12, 2018

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