Friday, December 4, 2009

The new role of a Project Manager on Agile Teams

Project managers traditionally have been more focused on task management, administrative functions, and team direction. The Agile model is turning this on its head. In an ideal world Agile teams would be self-directing and self-managing. In reality there is a role for the project manager, but it needs to adapt to more of a coach and someone who can remove roadblocks from the progress of the team.

The project manager will serve as the social architect. The should facilitate the work process, and provide overall project leadership for developing the multidisciplinary task groups into unified teams. They should be focusing on fostering a climate conducive to involvement, commitment, and conflict resolution.

The project manager's concern for the project team's members and enthusiasm for the project fosters a climate with high levels of motivation and involvement with the project and its management. It also promotes open communications and a collective focus on desired results.

Ensure team involvement early in the project life-cycle
This planning and involvement is especially important for technology-based project work, where high levels of complexity, uncertainty, and risk - along with the need for innovation - make it nearly impossible for the project leader to work out a project plan that is seen as realistic, unless performance is the result of collective efforts by the entire team.

Build a high-performance image

Project leaders and senior managers can help build a favourable project image by making the project visible and stressing its importance through media exposure, management involvement, and budgetary actions, as well as by emphasizing critical success factors and professional opportunities and rewards.

Stimulate enthusiasm, excitement, and professional interests

Managers should try to accommodate the professional interests and desires of the individuals on the team. Interesting and challenging work is a perception that can be enhanced by the visibility of the work, management attention and support, priority image, and the alignment of personnel values with organizational objectives.

Ensure senior management support

The manager needs to negotiate with the sponsor and support organizations for the required resources; this individual must also obtain a commitment from management that these resources will become available when these are needed. Make sure the team believes that you have their back and will make sure they are being supported by the senior leadership.

Progressive and healthy leaders tend to foster creativity in their team. Healthy leaders naturally express a sense of trust that creates the environment necessary for the team to operate. They let it be known regularly and often that relationships are important, and that connections, interdependencies, and integration are at the heart of the team success.