It’s easy to find blog articles on the internet comparing scrum to old fashioned project management methods. This comparison has always struck me as confusing because I don’t see the scrum framework as a project management framework. I think if you’re using scrum you will still need to add project management to run successful projects. Please allow me to explain why.
Scrum has no beginning and no end
The scrum framework is focused on continues delivery of value to a product using small iterations and a product backlog that is ordered by value. For scrum to work in a project there has to be a clear beginning and a clear end to the project. Scrum does not dictate how this needs to be done so in our case we’re using prince2 as a project management framework to cover these areas.
Scrum doesn’t cover all the work that needs to be done
Scrum focuses on the delivery of software. The ideal picture would be a shippable product at the end of every sprint, however in real world there is a lot of work to be done before a product is really “shippable”. Marketing people probably need to get involved, a customer want’s to have a chance to accept the software and some kind of implementation most likely will be needed. This work is all part of the project but I don’t see how it fits into the scrum framework.
Iterations do not equal project phases
Although it is always my goal to make my project phases as small as one iteration it often just doesn’t work out that way. We’re doing scrum and delivering new functionality in close collaboration with the customer but that doesn’t mean they want to put it in their live environment after every sprint. The customer is in charge of what is in a release and want’s the project to reflect that.
A project manager is no scrum role
It’s very tempting to assign a scrum master or product owner the role of project manager but in our case that blew up in our face. The scrum master’s role is to guard the scrum process and is one of our developers. We clearly didn’t want the developer to be pulled out of his work to do project management. The product owner is responsible for the product so it could make sense to make him a project manager but that would also make him responsible for implementation, sales and marketing efforts that are part of the project. This made us decide to always have a dedicated project manager on a project working closely together with the product owner.
I’m writing this article because I want to learn and get better at agile software development. So if you read this and would like to blow my head off for saying things all wrong, then please do so in the comments so I can learn.
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External related articles:
Product and Project lifecycles are often very similar, but they are not required to be. Tobia Mayer, an Agile luminary in Silicon Valley, wrote a blog on why Scrum is not Project Management. Somewhat rude writing, but interesting viewpoint and lot’s of comments:
After a few mental backflips on this, Joel Bancroft ended up posting a blog that essentially agrees with his base concept, while also making a case that the skills and values of a good project manager can fit into the Scrum framework. (http://thegorillaisnamedhogarth.blogspot.com/2011/04/armchair-gorilla.html)