The project management profession has been evolving alongside the emergence of Agile methodologies, such as Scrum, which has forced a degree of professional self-reflection on the role of the project manager in an Agile product team environment. Given the evolving nature of the project manager role we asked survey respondents in our recent study how much they valued the role of a project manager. Here is the question we asked and the response that we got.
A Closer Look at the Survey Responses
While close to half of respondents (42.61%) consider the project manager role vital to successful completion of product development activities and another 18.18% hold that the role is important but not essential to team success, a considerable percentage of respondents hold the project manager role in less regard. A tenth (10.80%) believe the project manager role is no more important than any other role on the team and 3.41% of respondents believe the role holds no importance. Nearly 14% of respondents (13.64%) do not have project managers on their teams at all. Finally, 11.36% of respondents said that the project manager role is fulfilled by another team member, though this person is not referred to as the project manager.
Analysis of this year’s data illustrates the continued importance of project managers. This will not come as a shock to those who have read past studies, as their importance has surfaced repeatedly over the years. The authors have read a large number of blog posts articulating this self-reflection and we have spoken with those who believe the value of project management is on a gradual decline. Respondents to our survey, however, do not support this diminished importance in the project manager’s role.
This study shows how the Agile development revolution has brought important improvements in the ability to deliver products; however, the prediction of leaderless teams self-organizing to deliver products continues to be elusive. In practice, we have seen the role of the project manager dramatically change to emphasize the orchestration of cross-functional interaction rather than tracking the progress of product team members.
A resounding 42% of respondents view the project manager role as essential to the successful delivery of products. Another 18% of survey responders state that project managers are important – although not essential. Only 3% of respondents believe the role holds no importance on today’s product team.
What’s your view?