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The PM Role is Dead, Long Live the PO

We all know what “Project Manager” (PM) is, at least we all use the word quite often when it comes to IT/business projects in general. Scrum framework introduced us to a new term called “Product Owner” (PO).

So who is PO? The value maximizer of the product and the work of the development team.

Basically, the main conceptual differences between PM and PO derive from Scrum’s focus on the product itself, its value, and self-organizing teams. This is why Scrum rejects the role of PM and divides up its responsibilities and reassigns them among the three Scrum roles, mostly to the Development Team and PO.

Let’s have a look at its diverging features from PM through Mobven’s agile transformation experience. In order to prevent conflicting responsibilities, unclear authority, and undesired results, we decided to eliminate the PM role as it was prescribed by the Scrum framework.

First of all, our focus shifted from creating a temporary endeavor to manage a predefined project to maximizing the value of the product to satisfy customers’ need or want. Former PMs and new POs started to ask what? and why? instead of when? and how? Shortly, the mindset changed from being schedule-driven to value-driven.

Secondly, newly POs started spending their time heavily on defining the product roadmap, connecting stakeholders and the development team, and specifying and prioritizing requirements rather than executing and delivering the project on time and on budget. In parallel to this transition, the whole company including top management supported the development team to become self-organizing and embrace the culture of continuous improvement with the help of the Scrum Master.

The most important element of the agile transformation was being able to adapt frequently to the changing regulations, especially in the financial sector as well as the evolving needs of the customers. Our new POs oriented themselves to adopt this mentality and pushed their limits to expertize in change, scope, and communications management.

On the other hand, not everything has transformed in the lives of Mobven’s beloved former PMs. Working very close to the development team and being strongly involved by ensuring that the team develops the right thing in the prioritized order remains the same.

Cultural and organizational transformation within the Scrum framework resulted in significantly greater success in the Mobven experience and we, as the Mobven family, get excited to see how the way we do our job gets better and better thanks to this revolution.

[1] The scrum framework was introduced by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland in the mid-1990s.

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