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10 FAQs for Agile Project Managers

May 20, 2024
Software Development Life Cycle

As a Project Manager, having Agile frameworks like Scrum in your toolkit is more important than ever. However, there seems to be a lot of confusion about how exactly to use Agile frameworks to deliver projects. Should you have a charter? Should the Project Manager also be the Scrum Master? This article will discuss 10 common FAQs for Project Managers seeking to use Agile frameworks - like Scrum - to deliver projects.


10.  Do you write a charter for an agile project?

Yes, there should be a charter, but it differs from a waterfall project charter. For example, an agile project charter might include a vision statement instead of scope or high-level requirements.


9.  Can you have a deadline for an agile project?

Yes, you can, but the scope should be negotiable and learned as the project progresses. It's important to deliver value incrementally. See my recent article Can Scrum Work for Hard Deadlines.


8.  How do you handle changing requirements during an agile project?

Agile projects embrace change. Because agile teams deliver value incrementally, changes are welcome even late in the project.  Change is just new information. What team doesn't want to respond to new information?  Requirements can evolve throughout the project, and the team adapts to these changes through frequent collaboration and iteration. Teams using Scrum to deliver a project should capture requirements in the Product Backlog. The Product Owner is accountable for the content and ordering of the Product Backlog, and the Product Backlog may evolve throughout the project.


7.  What is the role of the project manager in an agile project?

The Project Manager often facilitates, removing obstacles, supporting the team, and ensuring smooth communication flow. They may also handle administrative tasks and help facilitate stakeholder engagement. Often, the Project Manager also takes on the Scrum Master accountability, which could include training the team members on how to use Scrum, facilitating Scrum events, and more.  Agile Project Managers also manage Project communications, including status reporting, issues, and risks, and budgets.


6.  How do you prioritize tasks in an agile project?

The Product Owner is accountable for the content and ordering of the Product Backlog.  The Product Owner may decide to use techniques like MoSCoW (Must, Should, Could, Won't) or Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) to request input from stakeholders on the ordering of items in the Product Backlog. Ultimately, the Product Owner is accountable for creating an ordered list - the Product Backlog - which shows what the Scrum team will work on next.  As always, the Product Owner may delegate, but they remain accountable.


5.  How do you measure progress in an agile project?

Progress is measured through working software or tangible deliverables. Metrics such as velocity, burn-up or burn-down charts, and customer satisfaction are used to track progress and adjust plans as necessary. In Scrum, the Product Owner is accountable for forecasting future Product delivery. When a Project Manager is working with a Product Owner, then the Project Manager may gather information, including a forecast from the Product Owner, and use that information to update the status of the Project.


4.  What is the difference between Scrum and Kanban?

Scrum is a framework with predefined roles, events, and artifacts, while Kanban is a visual management method that focuses on continuous delivery by limiting work in progress (WIP) and optimizing flow. When people ask me whether they should use Scrum or Kanban, I say, "why can't we do both?". See the Professional Scrum with Kanban class for more details.


3.  How do you handle conflicts within an agile team?

The Retrospective is an excellent tool that Scrum teams can use to discuss how to improve the way they work together and how they handle conflicts.


2.  How do you ensure effective communication in an agile project?

The Project Manager had an advantage here because the Scrum framework includes five events that help the team to collaborate.  The Scrum framework includes the Sprint, the Sprint Planning, Daily Stand up, Sprint Review and Sprint Retrospective.  Each of these events serves an important purpose and can help the Scrum Master and the Project Manager to ensure that the Scrum team is collaborating effectively and ensure that Stakeholders have a chance to provide input throughout the Agile project.  Additionally, the Scrum framework includes three artifacts - the Product Backlog, the Sprint Backlog and the Increment that is delivered each Sprint.  These artifacts increase transparency for the Scrum team and its stakeholders.


  1.  What happens with the team when the project is over?

If the team is creating a new product that will stay in place, why not let the project team convert into a product team?  The product team would support the product over the entire product lifecycle.  The product may be supported by one or several Scrum teams, but will have only one Product Owner per product.  Product teams are beneficial to the larger organization because a product team manages its own technical debt and is empowered to focus on customer outcomes.  


Agile frameworks can help organizations and Project Managers deliver value in complex environments.  To learn more about Scrum, signup for the Applying Professional Scrum course with Rebel Scrum.  The Applying Professional Scrum course is for those new to Scrum and want to understand how to work together within the Scrum framework to deliver value.

Are you interested in networking with your peers and learning from industry experts?  Join us for Scrum Day, scheduled for October 23, 2024, in beautiful Madison, Wisconsin.  Scrum Day is not just a series of lectures - Scrum Day is full of engaging activities and networking activities to help you learn from your peers and grow your network.

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