It’s feasible for an individual to take on multiple roles in a project, but it’s crucial for everyone involved to clearly understand their specific role and the expectations associated with it. Misunderstandings and assumptions about responsibilities can lead to issues, emphasizing the importance of clear communication regarding roles, scope, and obligations, especially with contracted parties, for the success of the project.
Project management often encompasses more than just overseeing tasks; it can involve aspects of product development, team management, coaching, and consulting. This multifaceted role can lead to misunderstandings about its scope. To clarify, one might compare a project manager to an orchestra conductor who doesn’t play the instruments or choose the music but ensures the performance runs smoothly. In contrast, a product owner or developer is akin to the composer, creating the content but not conducting the performance.
Project assurance is another distinct role, focusing on addressing business and technical risks to deliver the project on time, within budget, and according to specifications, ensuring it meets both narrow technical and broad business requirements. This is separate from the day-to-day management tasks of a project manager, which include managing people, tasks, funding, and reporting on progress, as well as facilitating discussions on changes.
Understanding these roles – project manager, product owner, project assurance, along with others like Scrum master, coach, and consultant – helps clarify responsibilities and allows for the creation of hybrid roles to suit specific needs, acknowledging the reality that individuals often wear multiple hats in project execution.
- Project Assurance: Ensures projects align with business standards and objectives while managing risks and quality.
- Project Management: Oversees the planning, execution, and completion of a project, ensuring it meets its goals, deadlines, and budget.
- Scrum Master: Facilitates and supports a Scrum team, ensuring adherence to agile principles and practices for efficient project delivery.
- Product Owner: Defines the vision and priorities for the product, representing the end-user’s interests and requirements.
- Coach: Guides teams and individuals in developing their skills and achieving their personal and professional goals.
- Consultant: Provides expert advice in a specific area to help organizations improve their performance and achieve their objectives.
- Developer: Builds and creates software applications or systems based on technical design and specifications.
- Test Manager: Oversees the testing phase of the development process, ensuring the product meets quality standards and functions as intended.
Both PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) and Scrum Agile methodologies define specific roles that contribute to the structure and success of project management. These roles are designed to ensure clear communication, responsibility, and accountability.
Here’s an overview of key roles in each methodology beyond those already mentioned:
- Executive: The single individual responsible for ensuring that a project meets its objectives and delivers the projected benefits. The Executive represents the interests of the organization funding the project.
- Senior User(s): Represents the interests of those who will use the project’s outputs. Senior Users are responsible for specifying the needs of those who will use the project’s products and for the user acceptance of the final product.
- Senior Supplier(s): Represents the interests of those designing, developing, facilitating, procuring, and implementing the project’s outputs. This role is accountable for the quality of products delivered by the supplier(s).
- Project Board: Comprised of the Executive, Senior User, and Senior Supplier, the Project Board is responsible for providing overall direction and management of the project.
- Project Manager: Oversees the planning, delegation, monitoring, and control of all aspects of the project, and the motivation of those involved, to achieve the project objectives within the expected performance targets for time, cost, quality, scope, benefits, and risks.
- Team Manager: Responsible for the production of the project’s products, managing the production team, and reporting to the Project Manager.
- Project Support: Provides administrative services to the Project Manager, dealing with project paperwork and offering guidance about the PRINCE2 methodology.
Scrum Agile Roles
- Development Team: A group of professionals who do the work of delivering a potentially releasable Increment of “Done” product at the end of each Sprint. A Development Team is made up of 3–9 individuals with cross-functional skills who do the actual work (analyze, design, develop, test, technical communication, document, etc.).
- Product Backlog Refinement: While not a role, this is a key activity in Scrum involving the Product Owner and the Development Team. The activity is where the Product Backlog items are reviewed and revised. It is a collaborative effort to ensure that the backlog remains populated with items that are relevant, detailed, and estimated.
Additional Agile Roles (Not Specifically Scrum)
- Agile Coach: Helps teams implement and improve Agile practices and methodologies. An Agile Coach is more experienced than a Scrum Master and often works with multiple teams or at the organizational level.
- Release Manager: In some Agile implementations, a Release Manager is responsible for the process of managing, planning, scheduling, and controlling a software build through different stages and environments; including testing and deploying software releases.
Both PRINCE2 and Scrum Agile methodologies emphasize the importance of clearly defined roles for the successful delivery of projects. Each role has specific responsibilities and is crucial for the smooth execution of project tasks and achievement of project objectives.
Tim HJ Rogers
Consult | CoCreate | Deliver
I support people and teams to grow, perform and succeed unlocking potential as a partner Consultant, Coach, Project and Change Manager
Together we can deliver projects and change, and improve the confidence, capacity, drive and desire of the people I work with.
ICF Trained Coach | MBA Management Consultant | PRINCE2 Project Manager, Agile Scrum Master | AMPG Change Practitioner | Mediation Practitioner | BeTheBusiness Mentor | 4 x GB Gold Medalist | First Aid for Mental Health | Certificate in Applied Therapeutic Skills
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