Agility: The Paradox of Good Project Management
Being agile and quick in business is vital as the pace of change accelerates persistently and agile project management is taking the lead.
Could “Agile” be the best method to choose for project management?
This has been an ongoing debate for years. Essentially there are 3 groups of project managers;
Traditional Project Managers– Generally, they use waterfall methodology and frequently refer to the PMBOK (i:e- Project Management Body of Knowledge). They follow the best practices, models, and templates for effective project management.
Agile Project Managers– They’re quite different from their traditional counterparts. They focus on the team and consider success to be team driven.
Then there are Traditional Project Managers who want to play in Agile Environments, so they start looking for specific tools and techniques that they can “borrow” from the agile approaches. Often these folks take more of a hybrid approach to project management and agile approaches have become their mainstream.
Cutting to the chase
I don’t think you can be “agile” by approaching your projects with the same tactics you’ve always used for traditional or waterfall projects!
Agile is a jargon that has been zooming around the business world for nearly 15 years. Managers want to be quick, alive, and agile to all possibilities when it’s about driving their business forward, especially in this increased competition period.
So it is not surprising that agile methods are becoming more popular as organizations seek to respond faster and more effectively to an increasing pace of change.
Agile methods involve breaking a project into a series of steps known as sprints, rapidly testing work and holding daily meetings or scrums to review progress.
For better understanding, let’s take a small example.
Chuck Cobb is an author, writer, and project manager who sees “agile” as a toolbox for project management.
His recent blog post was entitled Multi-Dimensional Project Management, where he made case for blending what he calls Plan-Driven (traditional) and Adaptive (agile) project management approaches.
What I found is interesting;
I got lots of traditional project managers to want agile approaches and leverage some of their tactics. But I rarely found an agile project manager who reciprocates.
It’s not that we think traditional and waterfall approaches are inherently bad. In fact, many of us have used them. It’s just that we prefer more pure and collective agile approaches rather than cobbling tactics together.
Adaptability is behavior. Agility is the consequence.
Every project manager has a weapon of the framework at their disposal. From Waterfall to agile methodology, Les Affaires (A French-language bi-monthly newspaper)paints a picture that helps to demystify the movement towards agility.
The quote from Frédéric Moreau in the article perfectly explains the agility dilemma: “everyone is improvising as agileists.”
He defines the concept as having two facets: working agile, which is a method of delivering IT projects and being agile, a philosophy which can be applied to any field.
The main motto of a project manager is, “The risks constantly need to be identified, monitored, controlled and measured”.
A successful project starts with good governance
I’ve read many blogs and articles on project management. One thing I must say, the most effective project management is a customized one.
How true it is!
Over the past few years, project managers have adopted a hybrid model. They maintain the philosophy where agility is a state of mind.
Harish Grama, IBM’s vice president of rational product development and customer support, is a firm believer that with the right processes, tools, and discipline, larger enterprises have a lot to gain from adopting agile.He says,
“As you increase team size and distribution, even in different buildings, you need better tools that give you the same notion of putting Post-its on a whiteboard”.