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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wondering about Project Managers

I had a couple of issues lately with a PM (Project Manager) at work which made me ask myself a couple of questions & wonder what others might be thinking of it.. I'll give my humble opinion here to start a conversation, coz I badly wanna here how others would answer them.

  • Should PMs know/ask much about technical decisions?
    • IMHO, I thing the answer is NO!! PMs should be asking for less fine details like what's the estimations for doing that option or so.. But they shouldn't be asking why we are using X, or Y technology/approach to tackle a problem.

  • In an agile process, where should PMs stand? What exactly is their Role? Should there be PMs in agile in the first place? Or Should they be replaced by a PO (Product Owner), or -may be- a Scrum Master?
    • That's a question that really confuses me a lot.. I can't give a definite answer.. Should they replace POs.. Hmm. I guess not.. On one hand, a PO should be the one directing the project, knowing what the customer want.. But still, a PO -probably- should have some technical background.. So according to my answer to the previous question, PMs can't replace POs..
    • On the other hand, Replacing a Scrum Master, is a bit too far for PMs, Scrum Master are supposed to be in favor of the development team, ie a facilitator & protector for the dev team; & PMs are notorious of failing to do so.. :D
    • Another option -that just came to me right now- is PMs replacing customer in environments where it's difficult to involve the customer.

I'm desperately waiting for your answers to either of the above questions.. I'm really confused & don't have enough knowledge actually to answer them.
I might be adding other questions but for now that's what is on my mind..


Hosam Kamel said...

For the first question:
In general PM should know less about the technologies and approaches used for development during the project given that YOU WILL highlight any risks that may come from using such approach or technologies because it will definitely impact many decisions(hardware requirement and license and the overall physical architecture)

Also in some companies PM means Technical Team Leader who has a managerial background (I know a lot of companies using this approach), so he will not be concerned by time only but technical decisions too.

For the second question in my opinion no need for PM unless he will do the role of product owner.

Shady M. Najib said...

Thanks a lot Hossam for your reply.. You might want to check Mouneer's reply on the cross-post on my personal blog..

Actually I was about to update the post to add another question, something like: How should a PM interact with the team? & whether it should be only through a Technical Lead.. But Mouneer implicitly replied..

Also, I need to add a couple of replies I had through twitter (from Meligy) here to refer to them later:

Me said...

I agree that they aren't needed in question 2, a PO is a better choice.

As for your first question, it really varies from company to company and depends on how their role is defined.

I have been in that situation before as someone in a PM role, and I had developers that would spec things the way they wanted to do them, instead of the best way to do them. A few simple questions, and some basic technical knowledge, and those scenarios stopped occurring.