The Birth of the “Agile Project Leader”

With 8 months of full-fledged Agile under our belts here at Valpak, it was high time for me to update the job description for my team of Project Managers.  The point being to not only match the day-to-day activities of the job with the written description, but also to best reflect where we are at in our Agile transformation and our continued commitment to the cause.  With little help from the Internet (that’s right … this was mostly created from scratch!), I created a new job description for “Agile Project Leader” and re-titled my entire team.

  • “Agile” for our commitment to living the values and principles established by The Agile Manifesto,
  • “Project” because we view things best through our project lenses,
  • And, “Leader” because we strive to truly lead and not just manage.

Since I was hard pressed to find any real world examples of job descriptions for “Agile Project Leader”, I figured I’d share mine with the community (that’s you!).

Next up … I need to update my own job description too!

JOB DESCRIPTION: AGILE PROJECT LEADER

Summary:

Leadership of technology-focused projects and teams relying on Agile values and principles.  This position assumes the role of ScrumMaster, Kanban Lead, and/or Project Manager depending on the work at hand. The focus of this position is on delivering value over meeting constraints, leading the team over managing tasks, and adapting to change over conforming to plans.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  1. In the Project Manager role, leads complex initiatives across multiple functions and teams by planning, directing, and coordinating to the project objectives with consideration for risk.
  2. In the ScrumMaster role, facilitates the Scrum process of planning, daily stand-ups, reviews, and retrospectives with team and Product Owner and proactively removes impediments to progress.
  3. In the Kanban Lead role, facilitates the Kanban process with team and stakeholders and proactively removes impediments to progress.
  4. Leads and contributes to the decision making process and facilitates conflict resolution.
  5. Embraces, coaches, and evangelizes Agile values and principles across the organization and in the community.
  6. Defines and refines Agile metrics to understand team performance.
  7. Works with management and other Agile Project Leaders to continually identify and implement organization-wide process improvements
  8. Performs related work and additional duties as needed or required.

 Education/Experience:

Bachelors degree in a technology field or related degree.  Minimum 4+ years of project management experience and 1 year experience with Agile software development methodologies, namely Scrum and/or Kanban.  Additional years of directly related relevant experience may be substituted for the educational requirement.

Qualifications:

  • Strong analytical and problem solving skills
  • Detail-oriented and highly organized
  • Strong presentation and communication skills
  • Self-motivated driver able to make progress despite obstacles
  • Strong servant leader able to lead and work with multiple diverse roles and personalities
  • One or more related certifications such as Project Management Professional (PMP), PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP), or Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) preferred.
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About Stephanie Davis

Stephanie is Executive Director - Enterprise Agility Office at Catalina, driving lift and loyalty for the world's leading CPG brands and retailers.  Most recently, Stephanie was Senior Director of Enterprise Agility at Valpak. She was with Valpak for 13 years, most of which were focused on leading their agile transformation to what became a world renowned success story published in case studies and demonstrated to over 50 different companies through the years via agile tours.  Prior to Valpak, Stephanie held past positions in the project management domain with AT&T and IBM. Stephanie's academic credentials include a BS in Marketing from the University of South Florida and an MBA in International Business from the University of Bristol in England. She also maintains the Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), and Certified Scrum Master (CSM) credentials. Stephanie is big on tech community involvement!  Most recently, she served as an elected board member to the Agile Alliance, a non-profit organization with global membership, committed to advancing agile development values, principles, and practices. In addition, she serves her local community as an organizer for Tampa Bay Agile, the largest and most active tech Meetup in the area, and the annual Agile Open Florida event. In 2016, Stephanie was awarded Tampa Bay Tech’s Technology Leader of the Year and the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s BusinessWoman of the Year (Tech) and Emerging Technology Leader of the Year. View all posts by Stephanie Davis

4 responses to “The Birth of the “Agile Project Leader”

  • Stephanie

    Must have got it right if Derek Huether says so …
    http://thecriticalpath.info/2012/05/24/agile-project-leader-job/

    What a proud moment!

  • RH Atkinison

    Stephanie – great write up!… but a CSM as a credential/qualification? Seriously?

    A friend earned hers after sitting through the 2-day course (run by a highly paid “it’s about the money” CST) and she knows nothing about Agile/SCRUM or project management. She’s an analyst looking to become an Agile Project Leader/Agile Coach. She knows from being in IT that HR will pull candidates that have “CSM” behind their name.

    The Certified Scrum Master certification had it’s place in history to help “jumpstart” SCRUM into mainstream IT… but is really nothing more than getting one’s “degree” through a diploma mill.

    Do you value your PMP equal to a CSM? Is there equal effort, skill, or qualification needed to get the same number of letters to place behind one’s name?

    Remove the CSM and you’ll have a total winner here! A great write up to guide HR to qualified candidates.

    A fellow Agilephile,

    RH in SLC
    PMP, PMI-ACP (and CSM – but rarely admit it)

  • What the heck is an Agile Leadership Director? | i.am.agile

    […] of concocted it on my own after re-titling my team from “IT Project Managers” to “Agile Project Leaders” in May of last […]

  • Don Gilman, PE, PMP

    Hi

    Since a PMP requires thousands of hours of experience (even more if you don’t have a degree), reference checks (over 10% of candidates have their hours or credentials audited), 32 hrs of accredited training and a grueling 4 hr exam I’m not clear how that is equated to a CSM with the lessor requirements.

    As far as the title goes, you may be onto something. Let’s face it – the higher you go up the food chain the more you have to talk and walk Organizational Project Management. You have to abstract and interface at some point.

    Of course, the PMI ACP cert has taken material to address this interface so if you avail yourself of the access your PMP’s have to the PMI materials you may be able to better align with that body.

    Finally, what’s in a name? After all, most programmers want “Software Engineer” on their signature lines regardless of their knowing about, let alone passing the IEEE CSDP exam let alone the newly offered licensed professional engineer (PE) exam in Software Engineering. Most folks don’t know that the higher credentials exist (at this point) so …. who is to really say what you do in your own firm? Just be consistent!

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