The following is a reply to a post by Tobias Mayer, on his blog “Agile Anarchy.” In it, he makes the point, “Anyone who is laboring under the misapprehension that Scrum is some form of “Agile Project Management” is seriously missing the point.” I agree.
Scrum is certainly an effective software development method, practiced widely and producing useful software products for many organizations. However, project management is most assuredly not about software development; it is about managing “temporary endeavors undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” Some of those products happen to be (or include) newly developed software; others might be bridges, or data centers, or implementations of packaged software, or whatever ever else an organization might decide to commit funds to.To your point, Tobias, Scrum is not project management; it acknowledges no stakeholders other than the product owner, and no products other than software. It does not contemplate procurement, or human resource management; instead, it assumes all resources, people and otherwise, are present and dedicated for the duration, and no other activities matter. Risk management is limited to whatever actions the team can take. Still, Scrum is effective, for organizations that are willing to commit to it, but it is not a substitute for project management, even for software development projects.
Those of us who actually do it for a living approach project management as the study and practice of a mix of skills, techniques, and processes. We select those appropriate for the work at hand, the organizations and people who will do the work, and the stakeholders. PMI publishes extensions to the PMBOK for construction and the public sector; perhaps they will soon publish an extension for software development. But the PMBOK will not be optimized for software development, because it represents only a small fraction of all projects. In the meantime, skilled project managers will manage effectively using appropriate methods and poor project managers will manage ineffectively, just as good software development teams will produce good software, and bad ones will produce defect-laden crap.
Final point: credentials only matter to those recruiting new talent, and those seeking to be recruited. Practice standards, such as Scrum and PMBOK, matter only to those who wish to take a rigorous approach to their work, and share information with other practitioners using a common vocabulary. Those who approach their work like a game of Calvin Ball, just shouting out new rules whenever they feel at a disadvantage, have as much disdain for authority and rigor as the rest of us have for their sloppy work, and dismiss credentials and standards out of hand. Over time, they will be filtered out of the work force by the recruiters, and the rest of us will move on.