Are You A Professional Agile Project Manager? Time to Ignore Scrum?

Let me get this clear. If you want to be a professional Agile Project Manager, going down the Scrum rabbit-hole could well be a mistake. A mistake with lots of ramifications.

Over the past few years, many traditional (PRINCE2) PMs have retrained as Certified Scrum Masters and they will be livid by this statement and ready for a heated argument. So, please allow me to explain what I mean.

Let’s face it. When you look at Scrum in detail, it does not care about projects and Scrum teams do not like project managers. Project Management in Scrum is out of scope. So, when companies made an attempt to adopt Agile, they often chose Scrum as the method of choice. This meant that people holding a Project Manager role were suddenly and effectively surplus to requirements. As a result, some companies simply sacked their Project Managers, but many others have been retraining their PMs into ScrumMasters as a “best fit” role. And let’s be honest, we all like a nice new trendy popular certificate, such as CSM, to be part of our CV.

But is that what we really wanted to do as a Professional Project Manager? I would say the answer is “No”, but, then again, there was no viable alternative when companies usually adopted a more or less rigorous implementation of Scrum.

However, changes in the world of Agile are afoot and the opportunity for Project Managers to finally do Agile Project Management is steadily emerging as a second wave of Agile adoption is taking place using, what I would describe as, more mature and rigorous Agile implementations.

I am a big supporter of Scrum. It is a fantastic method for engineering teams to adopt Agile practices and be the best they can be, but Scrum is a Software Engineering framework and not a Project Management methodology. Time and time again I see companies struggling to scale up their Scrum teams beyond the team level and coming up with versions of the infamous Scrum of Scrums method or some sort of Scrum Project Management. But, on my experience, those don’t scale well and are well-intentioned patches that fail to deliver the goods.

The good news for those looking for an answer is the introduction of the APMG Agile Project Management certificates. This practitioner-level certificate is based on DSDM. A very complete and rigorous Agile methodology first introduced in the 90s and now in its fifth revision, obscurely named DSDM Atern. The Agile Project Management approach to Agile presents a project lifecycle that is not strange to those familiar to with PRINCE2. However, this approach is entirely based on an iterative development and mindset.

The strength of DSDM is that there a good amount of work done before letting the engineering teams loose and it allows projects to start from firm foundations. This includes having a good enough business case, a good enough architecture and agreed high-level prioritised requirements list among others. All these are detailed at a “good enough” level and are incrementally detailed as the solution evolves iteratively.

Even better news for those in love with Scrum, there are lots of positive synergies to be gained from combining Scrum and DSDM together and adopting a hybrid Agile methods. In this hybrid approach, the engineering teams can work using Scrum, while wrap around Scrum, the project level team can use DSDM to effectively control the project in an Agile fashion.

So, as I said, if you want to be a Professional Agile Project Manager, it is time to ignore Scrum and look into DSDM and the APMG Agile Project Management Practitioner certification.

What do you think?

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3 Comments

  1. […] EveningCoders » Blog Archive » Are You A Professional Agile Project Manager? Time to Ign…"… However, changes in the world of Agile are afoot and the opportunity for Project Managers to finally do Agile Project Management is steadily emerging as a second wave of Agile adoption is taking place using, what I would describe as, more mature and rigorous Agile implementations." (scrum agile project_management ) […]

  2. […] EveningCoders » Blog Archive » Are You A Professional Agile Project Manager? Time to Ign…"… However, changes in the world of Agile are afoot and the opportunity for Project Managers to finally do Agile Project Management is steadily emerging as a second wave of Agile adoption is taking place using, what I would describe as, more mature and rigorous Agile implementations." (scrum agile project_management dopost ) […]

  3. So DSDM is entirely based on an interative development mindset. That means it recognizes that delivery is best structured across small, discrete intervals, in which small, discrete features are delivered. And it also calls the broader objective a project, as if an end exists and as if you can look out from the starting point and see that end, and then plan to work towards it, know when you’ve reached it, and then stop.

    So basically, the same old misunderstanding of software development that got us into the mess that the vision of agile software development was expressed in reaction to in the first place. As a software developer, I call bullshit.

    You correctly identify Scrum as being not a project management system. That’s because software development efforts are not projects. They are actions on a continuum that typically only ends when the business folds or the market shifts dramatically. A good examples of correct use of the word project in relation to software development would be “The FreeBSD Project”, which describes a community of developers and an ongoing effort over many years, still in progress, with no end in sight. Linux is a project too. So is Windows. Windows 7 is not a project. It was a release of the Windows project.

    I know and love a few traditional project managers who have become Scrum Masters, and they love their new roles because they produce better results. I think they do so because the work they’re engaged in is better structured around the reality of software development. When you use the word project to describe software development efforts, I hear a delusional starting point.

    I’m not married to Scrum, but I’m married to agile software development, and the latter is not project-oriented. If you want to manage projects, agile software development will not be a rewarding experience for you. In which case, yes absolutely, ignore Scrum and everything that describes itself as not being a project management system.

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