Project Managers and Scrum


There is often confusion when organisations transition to an agile way of working, particularly with the mapping of roles. A common question is how do Project Managers work with Scrum.

Scrum does not have the Project Manager role. The work is completed by the 3 roles in the Scrum Team.

Scrum RoleProject Manager Duties
Product OwnerProduct Planning (Scope) Financial Planning Stakeholder Collaboration Tracking of progress at higher level
Development TeamDetailed Planning Tracking of progress with Sprint Quality Control
Scrum MasterFollowing the process Removal of impediments Team improvement

Predictive versus Empirical

The two paradigms are fundamentally different in their approach to work, however they have the same intent or business outcome in mind.

RiskDetailed within the Risk Management strategy.Formal approach with a Risk Register and detailed planning around opportunities and threats.Light touch, emphasis on “Done” and frequent delivery reduces the overall risks. Focus on delivery is the key minimiser.The Daily Scrum is the key way to stay aware of any risks.
Work/EffortDetailed tracking of individual effort. Expectation of working on multiple projects at one time.Focus on minimal number of projects (preferably one) at a time. Cost tracked at Sprint level as a whole “Burn Rate”
EstimationDetailed estimation to a granular level. Estimate then tracked and managed.Forecasts are accepted to be within a level of tolerance, and coarser grained. Tracked against work remaining.
TimeframeUsually fixed.Fixed for a Sprint. Further Sprints are commissioned if the work is deemed to be of Value.
Release PlanningPlanning tied back through estimation, often with fixed deadlines.Releases planned when value can be achieved.
Value attainmentAt the end of the product. Tracking risks primary means of managing delivery.The whole intent is to deliver value every Sprint. A failure to deliver in a Sprint highlights the impediments for the team and organisation.
ComplianceMet with external reviews.Captured and applied in Product Backlog Items and the Definition of Done.
ReportingMany reports, depending on size of project.Earned Value AnalysisTracking Reports primary artefact is a working product.Release and Sprint Burndown chartsValue Burnup chart

Prince 2

ToleranceAreaProject Level TolerancesStage Level TolerancesWork Package Level Tolerance
TimeProject PlanStage PlanWork Package
CostProject PlanStage PlanWork Package
QualityProject Product and Product DescriptionsN/AN/A
ScopeProject PlanStage PlanWork Package
BenefitBusiness CaseN/AN/A
RiskRisk Management StrategyStage PlanWork Package


ToleranceAreaProduct Level TolerancesRelease Level TolerancesSprint Level Tolerances
TimeProduct RoadmapProduct BacklogProduct RoadmapProduct BacklogFixed on outset
CostForecast by Number of Sprints and supporting costsForecast by Number of Sprints and supporting costsFixed for Sprint (Burn Rate)
QualityFixed by Definition of “Done” reviewed each SprintFixed by Definition of “Done” reviewed each SprintFixed by Definition of “Done”
ScopeProduct RoadmapProduct BacklogProduct RoadmapProduct BacklogForecast agreed at Sprint Planning by Scrum TeamSprint Backlog
BenefitProduct VisionBusiness CaseRelease VisionBusiness CaseValue delivered
RiskProduct BacklogImpediment ListProduct BacklogImpediment ListDaily ScrumSprint ReviewImpediment List


How progress is measured and communicated is different, as the approaches are different. The purpose is to review where progress is with respect to the initial plan, and a significant aspect is the level of detail and granularity in the plan.

In predictive management it is primarily the Project Manager who is responsible for tracking against the plan. This may be a tracking Gantt chart, with exceptions escalated. The Project Manager is the role that cascades the information.

Within Scrum the whole team is responsible for tracking at the various levels. The Daily Scrum and Sprint Review are events where there is a direct focus on progress, and how to get work delivered. This will be monitored with the Sprint Burndown, and Release Burndown.

The common factor is to make the visibility of progress highly visible, and this is the purpose of using the different reporting types.


Risks are managed very differently. In Prince 2 there is a Risk Management Strategy to identify and manage Risks. Within Scrum Risk is one of the many factors affecting the Product Backlog order. The primary way to mitigate risk is to resolve the risks by delivering a working product increment. Delivering working products will mitigate business, technical and market risks by making sure early in the project life that we are delivering what the customer has asked for. This mitigates risks by building functionality as quickly as possible to gain feedback in order to make any needed changes and by validating any assumptions made about the functionality.

Financial Model

Both processes will require a business case to start doing further work on the product. The model is based on the estimation basis.

Budget Baseline defined on initialisationInitial forecast, adjusted each Sprint
Return on Investment (ROI) forecastROI reviewed every Sprint
Variable spend dependant on people and resources in useSteady spend based on stable teams, with Spikes from additional resource spend
Value delivered at the endValue delivered every Sprint


All the agile frameworks are designed to be flexible, and allow for a minimal cost to re-plan. The Product Backlog is the instrument of planning at the Product and Release level, with the Sprint Backlog as the instrument at the Sprint level.

Within predictive Project Management, changes are managed by a Change Management Process when the variability triggers an exception beyond the bounds of tolerance set for the required level. The cost is proportional to the size of the change.

Where will the Project Managers fit?

The key is the style of interaction. Predictive Management tends towards a command and control model of status updates and direction. Scrum is based on facilitation and a “pull not push” model.

Model 1: The Project Manager as an engaged stake holder

The Project Manager (PM) assists the Product Owner (PO) and the Scrum Master (SM) with their respective duties

For this to be effective the style of interaction needs to be collaborative, with the PM working within the framework. They should respect the process and not disrupt events looking for updates.

The PM can then support the wider organisation with understanding tracking artefacts from the Scrum process.

Model 2: The Project Manager as a Scrum Master or Product Owner

When the circumstances are appropriate and the Project Manager demonstrates the correct behaviours (pull not push, ask don’t tell), they could choose to become either a Product Owner or a Scrum Master. The choice would be based on what the person favours – the business value focus or the framework and problem resolution.

If they prefer the stakeholder collaboration and business value – move towards the PO role, alternatively the SM role.

Model 3: Work on predictive projects

If their preference is to remain working in the same way, they should remain working on predictive projects to manage projects that are deemed to be run in a predictive way. If the individual is not willing to engage with the people in an agile way, their behaviour can become disruptive – reducing transparency and undermining self organisation

Myth: The Project Manager is a senior role

Within many organisations undergoing transformation there is a misconception that the Project Manager is senior role to either the Product Owner or Scrum Master. This is not the case. For the agile implementation to function, the Project Manager may work as a shock absorber between the Scrum Team and the organisation. It is critical that they do not act as a filtering lens, distorting the view or watering down the transparency of how the team works.

Project Managers and the PMO

Scrum does not have the Project Manager role. The responsibilities are completed by the 3 roles in the Scrum Team. So, where and how does a Project Manager fit within Scrum?

The key is the style of interaction. Predictive Management tends towards a command and control model of status updates and direction. Scrum is based on facilitation and a “pull not push” model.

It is naïve to think that to change to working with Scrum, first you need to dismantle the PMO and release all the Project Managers. That is wasteful, as these people are usually the ones who know how the organization really works, and have abundant experience in seeing work delivered. The focus should be on helping them understand the new work model, and enlisting their support in the transition.

The role of the PMO

The role of the PMO is to support the Portfolio, Program and Project work for the organisation. This will cover the execution and governance of work, as well as maintain a focus on effectiveness across the enterprise.

A well-functioning PMO will have an understanding of the work in flight, and have a significant amount of experience and political influence. For the transformation to be successful, the PMO needs to align with the new model, and support the change in process.

ResponsibilityPredictiveEmpirical (Scrum)
Engagement StyleVariable (Supportive, Directive)Collaborative
FocusPlanning and ControlCost and ScheduleBusiness Value and ROReducing WasteRemoving organizational impediments
PeopleResource AllocationStaff utilization focus/capacitySupporting stable teamsReducing context switching
Pipeline of Work / ScopeFocus on Activity (to get more done, start it all)Project initialization processFocus on Progress (only start as much work as you have teams)Limiting Work in ProgressCoordinate and refine Enterprise BacklogCoordinate work across teams – facilitate dependency management
Change ControlManage the change control processCollaborate to ensure that the
FinanceForecastingTrack SpendReview stage gatesReview initial forecast of ROICollaborate with Product Owner to
RiskIdentify, Evaluate and ReportRefine Enterprise BacklogMonitor Product BacklogsFocus teams on “Done”
TrainingTrain Project Managers on processessMaintain people’s currencySupport the training and coaching of people in new rolesSupport the Product Owner in financial, reporting and stakeholder collaborationSupport the Scrum Master in impediment removal
GovernanceFocus on process compliance and documentationConsistent StructureCore definition of “Done” across organizationFocus on delivering a Done increment every SprintSharing good ideas
Supplier EngagementSelection and monitoring of suppliers and vendorsExpectation managementProcess understanding (change control)Similar role, different styleHow will the supplier work with the iterative and incremental approach?Flexible contract style
ReportingStatus reportingSummary ReportsRAID logFinancial ReportsRoadmap ReportsConsistent reporting style across teamsRoll up reports across portfolio
ToolsStandardise tooling adoptedIdeally left to the team, however facilitating standardisation for cost and organization efficiency is key

Connect with Advanced Product Delivery.

APD offer private, tailored training courses as well as business agility and coaching. Our public training courses are delivered by practicing Agilists: Product Owners, Scrum Masters and coaches who are expert trainers and facilitators.

Whether you are looking to become a #scrummaster or #agilecoach, we have a range of internationally certified and recognised #agiletraining courses that are perfect for you. Visit Professional Scrum Training courses for more information.

If you are looking for professional, deeply experienced and skilled #agilecoaches and #agileconsultants to help you transition from traditional #projectmanagement to #agile #productdevelopment, we’ve got the ideal team to help you make that transition a success. Visit our Agile Coaching section to find out more about us.

If you have identified Lean Agile Procurement as a great opportunity to enhance #agility within your organization, visit the Lean Agile Procurement Training course or Lean Agile Procurement coaching page.

#agile #scrum #agilecoach #agileconsultant #agiletraining #agilescrumtraining #scrumtraining #scrumcertification #scrummaster #productowner #leanagileprocurement #apd #businessagility #organizationalagility #productdevelopment #projectmanagement #agileprojectmanagement #agileproductdevelopment

You may also like...

Agile Coach

The Scrum Master Craft

This blog explores the role of a Scrum Master as a combination of knowledge, skills, and experience. It emphasizes servant leadership, empowering teams, fostering psychological safety, and facilitating decision-making without imposing. The blog advocates for creating an environment where teams can self-organize and thrive, highlighting the importance of context, curiosity, and continuous learning.

Read More »
Agile Coach

Definition of Done Example

Done The Definition of Done is a critical concept in Scrum (and many agile frameworks). When an increment of the product meets the criteria described in the

Read More »

Latest Blog Posts

Image of a webinar

Questions from Scrum.Org webinar

This blog addresses the questions that could not be answered in the webcast on Procurement in Agile Transformations. There are many challenges that parallel the agile transformations.

Read More »