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6 Must-have Skills for Agile Project Managers

2 September 2021 by Grzegorz Kemski

Agile project management differs from traditional project management, hence the Agile PM’s skills and responsibilities might also vary.

What qualities make a good Agile Project Manager? Let’s find out. 

An Agile Project Manager understands the project's business perspective and client's goals

First and foremost, an Agile Project Manager understands the business side of the project and is there to help translate the client’s business vision for the project team. Agile PM’s main responsibility is to make sure the team and the client are on the same page when it comes to: what, how, when, and above all: why. 

An Agile PM takes care of the relationship with the client and makes sure it is based on mutual respect and trust. He or she can recommend certain solutions to improve the ones proposed initially by the client, but they never make the final decision. All of the team’s and AgileProject Manager’s suggestions have to go through and be accepted by the client. 

An Agile Project Manager looks at the project holistically

A good Agile Project Manager does everything in his or her power to make the product a success. They are responsible for creating the project’s structure and the environment where both the client and the team can work efficiently. Hence, they need to look at the project holistically, rather than just seeing a fraction of it, and be able to analyze the situation, draw conclusions, and plan ahead. All Agile Project Manager’s actions need to be based on facts and evidence rather than gut feeling or loose assumptions.

An Agile Project Manager identifies and manages project’s risks

One of the key Agile Project Manager’s qualities is the ability to identify and manage project risks. Both are equally important, because realizing a risk is not quite the same as preparing a plan in case the risk comes to life.

Same goes for managing all day-to-day work on the project. We mentioned that an Agile Project Manager takes care of the overall project organization, so he or she cannot delay their reaction to a problem, just waiting for the situation to solve itself.

An Agile Project Manager acts according to the Agile manifesto and uses Agile methodologies

Sounds simple in theory, but not so much in practice. There are many aspects of working in true Agile that might be hard to learn, especially for someone who has been working in a traditional project management setting.

A true Agile Project Manager promotes collaborative work, adapts to the ever-changing situation and focuses on supporting the client and the team. What does it mean in practice? The team shares trust and power equally. The Agile PM’s job is to lead by serving, advising and assisting the team, not by trying to micromanage it. He or she helps the team members to optimize their individual and collective performance, while still taking into account the big picture: their growth and the project success.

An Agile Project Manager takes care of the project team

Taking care of the project team stems directly from the Agile PM’s servant leader position. Agile PM is responsible for building relationships within the team based on mutual respect and trust. They also check in with the team’s preferences and needs to eliminate any difficulties. If any conflict appears, they manage it having everyone’s best interest at heart.
It’s a big no no for an Agile Project Manager to ignore conflicts between team members and not try to resolve them by mediating with everyone involved.

An Agile Project Manager educates

We can’t forget the ever-present Agile Project Manager’s role to educate both: the client and the team when it comes to Agile methodologies, but also the project itself. Oftentimes this is a continuous assessment whether everyone is on the same page in terms of why, what, and how, rather than just a one-time task to be completed.
Agile PMs also introduce the client into the process and explain any doubts they might have, especially if they have never worked in Agile before.

Summing up

Project management in Agile involves some of the project facilitation, change and risk management, and also communication and education. All of these elements are equally important for the project to be successful, and for the team and the client to be satisfied with the process and the final outcome.

The Agile Project Manager’s skills we mentioned above ensure the team’s understanding of the project, their efficient work and most importantly: a high quality product at the end.

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