The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility

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When software development teams move to agile methods, experienced project managers often struggle—doubtful about the new approach and uncertain about their new roles and responsibilities. The software project manager’s bridge to agility. Two long-time certified Project Management Professionals and Scrum trainers have built a bridge to this dynamic new paradigm. They show experienced project managers how to successfully change to agile by refocusing on facilitation and collaboration, not “control and command.”

The authors begin by explaining how agile works: how it be different from traditional “plan-driven” methodologies, the advantages it promises, and the real-world results it delivers. Next, they systematically map the Project Management Institute’s classic, terminology and methodology-independent techniques to agile practices. They cover both process and project lifecycles and carefully address vital issues ranging from scope and time to stakeholder communication and cost management. Finally, drawing on their own great personal experience, they put a human face on your personal transition to agile– emotional challenges, covering the personal values, and key leadership traits you’ll need to succeed.

In today’s dynamic and competitive world, a project manager’s key challenge is coping with frequent unexpected events. Risk-management processes and despite meticulous planning, a project manager may encounter, on a near-daily basis, such events as the failure of workers to show up at a site, the bankruptcy of a key vendor, a contradiction in the guidelines provided by two engineering guides or changes in customers’ requirements. Such events can be classified according to their level of predictability as follows: events that were expected but whose impacts were much stronger than expected; events that could not have been valued; and events that could have been predicted but were not. All three types of events can become problems that want to be addressed by the project manager. The objective of this article is to describe how successful project managers cope with this challenge.

This has been an ongoing debate for a number of years. There are essentially three teams of Project Managers:

• Traditional Project Managers – they’ve typically utilized in Waterfall environments and frequently reference the PMBOK. They often follow best templates, practices, and models for effectively “managing” projects. Usually, they view success to be plan-driven.
Agile Project Managers – who are normally quite different than their traditional counterparts. They focus on the group and are more facilitators and coaches than project managers. They also consider success to be steam-driven.
• There are Traditional Project Managers who want to play in agile environments, so they start looking for techniques and specific tools that they can “borrow” from the agile approaches. They take more of a hybrid approach to project management, and this team seems to be increasing as agile approaches have become popular. Often these folks have acquired PMI-ACP certification, but they have little else in the way of real-world agile experience.

Agile methodology

Agile methodology can be defined as “Iterative and incremental style of development that dynamically adjusts to enables better risk management and changing requirements.” The agile projects are customer-defined, aligned to the client’s expectation and measurable activities specific. It focuses on delivering the client’s needs at the earliest, forming the project plan as per the client’s demands and implementing changes to provide the best solution to the client. In agile methods, the interactions of the individuals are valued to develop a software solution for the changing requirements of the client.

Limitation of the agile process

The agile process combines managerial and technical processes to adapt to the changes in a software development process during the development phase or in the environment of software development. Following are some limitations of the agile process:
• Support is limited to distributed development situations and subcontracting,
• Support is limited while developing reusable objects and involving large teams,
• Unavailability of adequate support while developing critical, safety critical, large and complex software,
• An agile project is unpredictable and difficult to control in development culture.
• The agile process focuses on the interaction between people, tools, and process. It also fosters customer’s involvement in providing the best solution.

Project manager in an agile project

A project manager is a way to connect to the steering committee. The responsibilities of a project manager include the following:
Managing people in an unpredictable and stressful environment – In agile projects, project timelines are critical. Project Manager ensures the sprint of the project is completed on time.
• Motivating everyone to remain focused on reaching the goal. In a large agile project, challenges and issues create frustration among team members. Project manager motivates his team members to avoid any issues that degrade employees’ performance.
Modifying work-pressure and timelines to keep the pace – The project is divided among several segments which need to be completed phase wise in a specific timeline. The project manager assigns tasks to individual and balances the workload.
Managing issues and escalating to the right authorities – Project manager informs the right person at the right time to resolve the issue.
Communicating changes to the stakeholders – Project manager informs all the stakeholders about the status of the project.
• Fighting for the proper resource – Project manager manages approvals for required resources from the authorized people.
Preparing project plans and making changes if necessary – Project manager helps to prepare project plans and ensure the project plan is being followed. If any changes required, he ensures changes are updated in the project plan and communicated to all.
Developing risk management plans – Project manager identifies risks and develops risk management plans.
Resolving issues to keep the project moving – Project manager ensures any interpersonal conflict, technical skill scarcity, political issues, shortage of the budget should not harm the project. He takes preventive actions to avoid risks.


The project manager and the scrum master are not two different entity. Role of a project manager expands as a scrum master. The objective of a project manager is to complete a project successfully within a specific budget and schedule. With the advent of the agile method, the involvement of a project manager increases. In agile project management, the distribution of the roles and responsibilities are specific to the individuals. Therefore, the role of a project manager as a scrum master is now more specific, concise and crisp. In an agile method, the focus of a project manager is not limited to the entire project but as a scrum master, it is every scrum that needs to be successful. This new point of view makes it more methodical and quantitative to achieve success.

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