What Do I Do With My Project Managers?

By Sherman Gomberg

April 18, 2017

I was recently asked this question by a Project Manager who is undergoing a transformation to Scrum within her company. Scrum tells us that there are three roles, the Product Owner, the Scrum Master and the Scrum Team. No mention of a Project Manager…hmmm. What to do? As you might do on an assembly line for a new product, let’s retool our Project Managers. They might want to become a Scrum Master or Product Owner. Generating awareness about these roles to each Project Manager will create excitement and a renewed energy. It might also remove any fear about being out of a job. As part of retooling the Project Managers into trained Scrum Masters and Product Owners, they will need coaching. No, not soccer coaching, although that is one of my passions, but Scrum Coaching. Transformation for an organization, company, enterprise, department, classroom, squad, etc.. requires new skills mixed with experienced personnel.

You’re reading this and might be thinking, “sounds good, but what about all the duties that a Project Manager performs?” Ideally, these are now Scrum Team activities. These duties become part of the product backlog to support a product feature, but that’s another blog. A lingering thought is to add a coordinator, as in Project Coordinator, to the Scrum Team. This coordinator is a member of the Scrum Team that has skills such as finance, invoice, contract, staffing, etc.. Just remember, everything they do must be all about the product.

Let’s talk money. Retooling your Project Managers requires an investment. As a rule of thumb, the cost of replacing a resource is equal to their annual salary. Wow! A Project Manager earning $100k/year would cost you $100k to replace them with a new hire of a Product Manager or a Scrum Master. Training will cost about 10%, or $10k to retool your Project Manager with costs for the CSM or CSPO course, travel and time away from the office. You just saved $90k, great job! But wait, do you recall I mentioned Scrum Coaching? Good recollection. Coaching is invaluable to take these burgeoning skills to use. Scrum Coaches typically work with a multiple of Scrum Teams, thereby spreading their cost into productivity gains. Much less than the remaining $90k.

Retool your Project Managers and create a Happiness factor, also another blog, and supplement with Scrum Coaches.