How to be a Program Manager in Agile Organizations

 "We don't need program managers," said the agile leader.

Let's think about that for a few seconds. Surely, many of the responsibilities we expected of program and project managers have shifted since the pre-agile world. 

But we're also executing and far more complex initiatives today that include partners, integrations, digital transformations, new innovations, security considerations, safety factors, data requirements, experience differentiators, and other success factors.

In this week's 5 Minutes with @NYIke episode (#20!!), I share five roles for program managers in agile organizations. 

Role of Product Management in Agile - Isaac Sacolick

A Different Role for Program Managers in Agile Organizations

Here's a listing of differences that impact the responsibilities of program managers working with agile teams and organizations

  • I don't want a program manager's overly structured (and unrealistic) Gantt chart. It will be obsolete after Sprint 1.
  • Command/control project management methodologies, mindsets, cultures, and rules will not be welcomed by agile teams. 
  • I've added product managers to identify target markets, represent the customer, express value proposition, and lead the discussion on roadmaps. They drive the priorities by defining the vision and collaborating with stakeholders, including IT, data, security, priorities.
  • I expect agile teams to be self-organizing, follow well defined agile principles, and create standards around the process, architecture, data, UX, and other best practices.
  • Agile organizations adopt continuous planning and focus on customer releases, not program milestones. 


If a multi-team agile organization thinks they can handle all the program manager's responsibilities, then I would beg to differ. I share five key responsibilities in my video, and StarCIO offers a program on establishing the Agile PMO.

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