Excuse me, a project manager in agile software development?

Advocates of the agile methodology probably cringe at the word “project manager”, as agile theory explicitly relies on product owners and scrum masters for the organization. First of all: the agile way of working has certainly proven itself and secured a well-deserved place in the world of software development. However, a look at practice not only shows the limits, but also reveals untapped potential. Particularly with large projects, companies quickly face the problem of a lack of responsibilities. Budget? Exchange of team members? Resource management? Communication with management? Many question marks remain.

These are problems that are avoidable. The solution could one day walk through the door and be called a project manager. In fact, the agile method can very well tolerate an organized superstructure without the team having to give up its working methods. Apart from the theory, employees benefit greatly when a person with decision-making authority takes control of the budget, adherence to deadlines and external communication. These are the aspects that companies should keep as far away from the development team as possible. There are also no contradictions in terms of responsibilities with the introduction of a project manager position; on the contrary, product owners can concentrate fully on the technical side, Scrum managers take over the organization of the processes and the development team can devote itself fully to the software. What is quickly forgotten when talking about agility is that it is a development method, not a project model. This becomes particularly apparent when existing applications are to be replaced in an agile manner.

While agility can play to its strengths in greenfield projects, such as the development of completely new software, and gives the team the necessary autonomy, the limits are quickly reached when working on existing applications. Due to the lack of definition of fixed results, the difficulty of calculating financial resources and the open time frame, these projects can quickly become construction ruins where the budget runs out before completion. This scenario can be prevented by a project manager who acts as an interface between management, product owner, scrum master and development team. In addition to having an overview of the available budget and the team’s progress, in the best-case scenario they also keep an eye on things like scope management, project marketing and time.

The appointment of a dedicated project manager is neither a radical step nor a real novelty. Rather, it is an honest consequence, because especially in large companies and complex projects, the organization without a managerial position is a myth. What is often described with imaginative names in the name of agility and in the scrum environment is merely a mishmash of different responsibilities and, under the surface, is nothing more than a form of project management. So, let’s make sure things are clear. Agility can also work with an officially appointed project manager – without betraying the essence of the method or having to throw your own principles overboard.

This press release can also be found at www.pr-com.de/de/avision

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