In a previous article, I spoke about what Agile project managers might do. Here’s what Agile project managers do not do:
- The Agile project manager does not assign work.
- The Agile project manager does not estimate work on behalf of the team.
- The Agile project manager does not commit to features, stories, or tasks on behalf of the team.
- The Agile project manager does not agree to dates.
- The Agile project manager does not agree to constraints on the project.
For many new-to-Agile teams, this is a huge change. In plan-driven approaches, such as Waterfall or phase-gate life cycles, there is no such role as the Product Owner. In the plan-driven approaches, the project manager assesses the requirements and decides what features, requirements, etc. that the team should do first, second, third, and so on. The project manager decides on the deliverables and performs rolling-wave planning if the project manager understands about deliverable-based planning.
In Agile, the Product Owner performs rolling wave deliverable-based planning. The PO decides which features (deliverables) the team needs to implement now and what rank they are. The PO decides when to replan. The Agile project manager might assist, suggest, or facilitate, but the deliverable-based planning is the PO’s job.
These changes have several implications:
- The PO manages the “commitments” to external requests. (What many project managers used to do.)
- The PO defines deliverables. (What many project managers used to do.)
- The PO defines the rolling wave planning. (What many project managers used to do.)
This can be a very large change for more traditional project managers who are accustomed to making their deliverable-based rolling wave plan work. (Yes, you could make a Waterfall project work with deliverable-based rolling wave planning. It was much more difficult but possible.) Some project managers have a difficult time reconciling their role to be one of a servant leader, facilitating the team’s work rather than directing in.
I will post about how the Product Owner and Agile project manager might work together in my next article.