Agile… No PM Needed?

Filed under Agile | Posted by PMStudent

Today I want to address this comment that was left on a previous post here at

Simple, adopt agile methods, which incorporate self organizing teams. Just like that, no PM needed.

Now I am studying PM, but its only to make me a better member of modern agile self-organizing generalist teams.

My Reply:

I wish you the best of luck Anon. Sounds like a nice dream.

I love agile (my particular experience is with scrum). In my opinion, if you do agile right, you are doing project management. A LOT of people get agile completely wrong, and unfortunately it sounds like you might be one of them.

My Opinion

agile software project management hysteria - by the half-blood prince via Flickr

agile software project management hysteria - by the half-blood prince via Flickr

The flavor of Agile I have experience with is SCRUM.

I am against a top-down approach to project management where the project manager tells their teams how to do their work.? That’s not how I manage my projects.

On the other hand, I’ve seen developers have bad experiences with project managers who sign them up for work and deadlines without consulting the team at all.? I know some disgruntled developers who have been put into this position.? No wonder swing the pendulum all the way to the other side and go off the deep end.

What happens when you do SCRUM without a scrum master?? I know exactly what happens, because I’ve been there.

  • Accountability Fails – The team ends up working on what they think is cool, regardless of whether the customer wanted it or not.? Lots of gold plating springs up.? Someone has to manage this thing.? Even if it’s the technical lead who is playing the role of PM, someone has to do it.? Too much will fall on the floor otherwise.
  • Customer Is Lost – Without a project manager, the customer feels disconnected because the team is only focused on writing code, not so much on communication.? I’ve seen this countless times.? Most customers won’t just throw money your way and be happy with getting to touch a prototype once per cycle.
  • Direction Is Lost – Even with agile methods, you need to do some planning.? People who go agile because they think it will relieve them of the responsibility to plan for anything are wrong.? Even when using scrum, I planned the high-level functionality that would be delivered in each sprint for the whole project.? How else do you know how long this project will take?? How do you plan your resources?? How do you make sure people have another project to go to after this one is done?? I use this all the time, here it goes again.? “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”? – Zig Ziglar

Do you think I am crazy?? If so, tell me exactly why in the comments.

P.S.? Anon, why do you have to study PM if no PM is needed?

Other opinions:

Self-Organizing Agile Teams Still Need Leadership

Agile Self-Organizing Teams