There is an exercise that I like to do in my ScrumMaster course to answer a frequently asked question: Where does the Project Manager fit in Scrum? Project Manager is not one of the Scrum roles so there is some confusion, especially among PMs who start using Scrum. Some people assume that the PM role still exists somewhere outside of Scrum. Others assume that PM just maps to the ScrumMaster role.

The job market has conflated Project Manager and ScrumMaster – we have seen a lot of openings for PMP with CSM in the past year. Either may be correct to some extent, but in either case there are adjustments to be made in the position or in the organization.

I offer the following exercise in my Scrum classes for groups who are interested in discovering what happens to the Project Manager role. The exercise first emerged at a  joint APLN/PMI event in San Francisco last winter.

Figure 1

The exercise is pretty simple. First we identify a list of things that the PM does in a traditional project. Then we make 4 columns marked PO, SM, Team and ?. Then we put a mark in the column that shows which Scrum role or roles take care of the traditional PM activity. If none are appropriate, we mark the ? column. Figures 1 and 2 are the results created by a recent class. Table 1 is a composite from several classes plus the APLN/PMI event.

Figure 2
Table 1: Project Management Duties
Duty PO SM Team ?
Estimation X
Planning X X
Project Charter X X X
Prioritize Work X X
Project Goals X
Choose Team ?
Manage Schedule X X
Manage Quality X X
Manage Execution X X
Monitor and Control X (monitor)
Manage Risk X X X
Report X X
Lessons Learned X
Resource Balancing X
Police Process X (in a nice way)
Manage Budget ?
Communicate with Execs X X
Manage Integration X (project) X (technology)
Manage Scope X
Client Interaction X X
Report Status X X
Identify Stakeholders X
Strategic Alignment X
Manage Contract X
Assign Tasks X
Evaluate Results X
Analyze Requirements X X
Follow up relentlessly X
Interface with PMO X
Escalate Issues X
Remove Barriers X X
Communicate X X X
Resolve Conflict X
Closes X
Run Meetings X
Yell & Panic
Finally, we ask who might pick up the things in the “?” column. The answer is usually “the PM”.

The table has three patterns to note. The first is that most of the traditional PM duties are taken care of by one or more Scrum roles. The second is that the Product Owner picks up more of them than most people expect. The third is that there are still a few things for the PM to do.

This raises the question: Is there still enough left to justify a Project Manager? If not, what is the PM to do? We will take a look at that question in the next post. Stay tuned…

Part 2 is here.

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Where Does a Project Manager Fit in Scrum? part 1

4 thoughts on “Where Does a Project Manager Fit in Scrum? part 1

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  • May 24, 2011 at 5:46 am

    First, what Scrum consulting firm do you work for!
    Second, how much do you charge for your fees!
    Finally, you just don’t understand…you are justifying your existence just the same as the PM profession is trying to justify their existence! Your methods and means are old, tired ways of addressing any issues.

    The bottom line is: Regardless of where the PM functions are performed, they still must be performed. Just to show you how old your concepts are; let’s review our volumes of industrial psychology. You are basically talking about division of labor from the 1800s … so, tell me something new!

    The real question is not what happens to the PM functions…the real question is with regards to “efficient” and more importantly, “effective” us of resource skills and talents. Please see my website for the “Dynamic Development Zone”. You could benefit from gaining a better understanding of what is needed in the 21st Century rather than going back to the “Industrial Revolution”…This is the “Information Age”.

    I would be more than happy to help you not reinvent the wheel!

    Best regards,


  • May 24, 2011 at 5:58 am

    One more comment, the items you list in each catagory are under the PM roles resposibilities as a MANAGER. That is why it is called Project Management. So, the problem is that too many companies, and PMI itself, have reduced the PM role to little more than an administrative role…bad idea! With this in mind, I agree that the PM role is, not obsolete, but badly misaligned with conceptual versus reality. We don’t need an admin for the project, or do we.

  • May 11, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Went to the Dynamic Development Zone as suggested by Doug. Fell asleep due to the lack of valuable content. I find the chart above to be pretty consistent with my 10+ years of experience in this area. Interesting to see this exercise again, and it’s also interesting that this topic is discussed so often. We all need to continue to refine the roles and expectations.


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