Scrum – Where Does It Fit With Projects?

By Sheila Roberts

Scrum remains as popular as ever, since inception. It is a great approach to manage the teams delivering work in projects. It fits nicely with project management but can be confused as being project management.

Scrum is designed to work in product development either stand alone or within projects. Even when the product development is for delivery within a project Scrum is not managing the projects, but the team working.

I am a Scrum Master and recognise that I still need to have the project structure around the Scrum Team in order to ensure there is good governance and appropriate linkages with the organisational requirements. Scrum does not cover critical areas of project management such as the creation of a business case to justify the investment or risk management processes. This does not mean that Scrum Teams will ignore these things, it simply means that the Scrum Team will utilise either the normal line management mechanisms or the project management approaches to undertake these areas.

Here at CUPE International, we believe that the combination of Scrum, to manage the development teams, with project management to deliver the governance aspects of the work, is the strongest approach. Whether you look at APM, AgilePM, PMI, IPMA or PRINCE2 project management approaches they all deal with the structures to manage the project but do not cover how the teams that develop the deliverables operate.

This is why Scrum and project management fit well together. That is not to say that Scrum should always be used for the development teams. As always, you need to assess the most appropriate for the situation. If you are working in a situation with tight deadlines and finite resources the approach of regular re-prioritising will keep the whole team focussed on the most important deliverables to enable a minimum viable product to be produced.

The project management governance will ensure that the Project Sponsor and Project Board stay informed and can take the necessary decisions, when needed.

In conclusion, using Scrum to manage the development team is really helpful. It should be used with project management or line management to ensure the linkages to the organisational governance is appropriate so the Scrum Team is not seen as a maverick group who do not conform to the constraints that others need to manage. They should be integrated and respected for the strengths they bring and the Scrum Team not being expected to deliver the areas outside Scrum.