Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Models of a Project Manager role in an agile project

The roles a project manager can play in an agile project are endless and a lot depends on where one’s interest lies and also the type of project one is working on. Again not all of these roles are applicable to all agile projects.

Here are a few possible options

The Iteration Manager

This is the most hands on delivery role one can do as a project manager on a team. The work largely involves planning iterations, resolving blockers from the daily stand-up, ensuring a smooth passage of stories across the story wall.

It requires working closely with all roles within the team and understanding the core practices of writing a user story to the essence of continuous integration

Program/Project Manager working with Iteration Manager(s)

If a project demands a larger team, with multiple parallel work streams, one might need an Iteration Manager for every decent sized (3-4 developer pairs) work stream and an overall project manager looking at work across teams. Depending on how large the project is the role is often termed as a “program” manager.

The work involves managing functional and technical dependencies across work streams during upfront release planning also during regular iterations . It also means providing an overall program status to senior stakeholders with the necessary abstraction of details.

Release Manager 

If it is a large enough project which is making multiple releases into production, there could be a need for a full time release manager role. Work here would involve planning upcoming releases and tracking stories and defect fixes are merged across different branches. It also requires a decent understanding of the techniques and tools such as continuous integration, version control systems, branching strategies etc.… to engage in an effective dialogue with senior developers on the team.

Project Manager working with a vendor PM counter part

If a lot of work is done by vendors either outsourced or co-sourced, there could be a need for a client project manager who can work across with all the vendor PM counterparts. Typical work of a client project manager involves resolving issues in the project dependent on decisions from stakeholders within the client organization. This could mean things as trivial as getting environments setup by the client IT team, to as complex as escalating critical issues about the product delivery to senior stakeholders from the business

The vendor PM(s) here acts as a project/iteration manager working closely with the client project manager every iteration.

Client Account Manager

A client account manager can become a full time role for a vendor executing a big project for a client. Major part of the work involves managing the ongoing client relationship by being part of key conversations with the senior client stakeholders, project sponsors etc.…  Work also includes billing and invoicing the client for the services offered.

A client account manager with a strong de livery background can assist a lot in having difficult conversations with a client when there are delivery issues within the project.

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