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What is a Project Manager?

In the traditional sense, a project manager is the person who “runs” a project.  They work together to define the resources needed, schedules, risks, constraints, etc.  A common quote that is often used to describe traditional project management is “plan the work and work the plan”.

So when we start getting into the agile world, how does a project manager fit in?  Typically agile teams talk about self-organization, just-in-time planning, daily stand-up meetings and product demos.  A common pattern is to have a project manager become a ScrumMaster.  This strategy can work, but requires a mindset shift.  The Agile Manifesto defines the following:

-Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

-Working software over comprehensive documentation

-Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

-Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

Additionally, there is a lot more that goes into fitting the role of a Project Manager into your new agile team/organization.  Project Managers often handle many other aspects that are specifically designated to ScrumMasters, such as contracts, financials, etc.  Some organizations incorporate these roles into that of a ScrumMaster, some keep some Project Managers around in addition to ScrumMasters.

 What Certifications are Available?

There is not a hard and fast rule when it comes to certifications.  Therefore we will break certifications up into 3 categories:

Yes: This certification directly helps this role.

Maybe: This certification could help this role.

No: This certification is not needed for this role.

Certifications to Consider

Project Managers have to have a breadth of knowledge across many topic areas and disciplines, deep knowledge in many areas within that as well as soft skills to be able to work with a variety of people.  Therefore, certifications to consider are ones specific to project management, as well as agile targeted one, specifically around many that a ScrumMaster would also focus on.


Professional Scrum Master I (PSM I) – Yes

Professional Scrum Master II (PSM II) – Yes

Scrum Alliance

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) – Yes

Project Management Institute

Project Management Professional (PMP) – Yes

PMI Agile Certified Coach (PMI-ACP) – Yes

Scaled Agile Academy

SAFe Practitioner (SP) – Yes

Disciplined Agile Consortium

Disciplined Agile Delivery White Belt – Yes

Disciplined Agile Delivery Yellow Belt – Yes

The following set of certifications could be beneficial to a Project Manager.


Professional Scrum Product Owner I (PSPO I) – Maybe

Professional Scrum Product Owner II (PSPO II) – Maybe

Scrum Alliance

Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) –  Maybe

Certified Scrum Coach (CSC) – Maybe

Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) – Maybe

Scaled Agile Academy

SAFe Agilist (SA) – Maybe

SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) – Maybe

SAFe Product Manager/Product Owner (PM/PO) – Maybe

Disciplined Agile Consortium

Disciplined Agile Delivery Green Belt – Maybe

Disciplined Agile Delivery Black Belt – Maybe


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 What are Good Books for Agile Developers?

Project Managers can benefit from understanding traditional project management practices and concepts, such as those outlined by PMI.  Additionally, they can benefit from understanding lean/agile principles.  A Project Manager that combines both perspectives can be very powerful and the books below will help to make sure both perspectives are understood.

Agile Project Management for Dummies
Agile Estimating & Planning
Agile Project Management
The Software Project Manager's Bridge to Agility
The Agile PMO: Leading the Effective, Value Driven, Project Management Office
Effective Project Management: Traditional, Agile, Extreme