Agility: The Paradox of Good Project Management

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”.

Most popular agile tools

(Source-https://www.raconteur.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/most_popular_agile_tools_and_processes-612×428.jpg)

 “Scrum is the most popular agile technique, but it doesn’t scale well. And while scrum improves the effectiveness of individual teams, productivity gains fall off sharply on large projects with many teams“.

John Walker, director of technical marketing at software company Perforce

Increasingly, agile project management is seen as an option for much larger public-sector projects and managers see that the principles can be used much more widely than for the development of software.

Agility and Project outcomes

(Source-https://www.raconteur.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/agility_and_project_outcomes.jpg)

Agile teams are characterized by highly collaborative self-organizing small groups, where trust, goodwill, and openness are the core behavior.

To help you more in this, here I’m sharing-

Top 5 Steps to Greater Agility

Encourage C-level Executive– Perform this to play a key role in redeem agility and communicating its business value throughout the organization. Focus on deliverables such as revenue growth, customer satisfaction, and speed-to-market.

Recognize All PM Methodologies– predictive, agile, hybrid—can support agility and an organization’s need to produce better results at a faster rate.

Furnish Employees– Skill them with the capabilities to quickly adopt and implement new strategies through training, education, and technology tools.

Properly Utilize the PMO– To shape and influence an agile-friendly culture, you need to use your PMO properly. Hold up the PMO as a guide for other operational and functional areas that would be impacted by new approaches to managing projects.

Mention the Cultural Factors– It enables greater agility and helps in driving strategic initiatives to successful realization. Key pillars include resource management, procedural overhaul, and a new mindset.

Wrapping Up:

Agile ways of working can be directly applied to project management practice. There are clear benefits in doing this, but project managers must give up traditional control by empowering teams that encourage a try-test-learn approach in a fail-fast environment.

Organizations that are adaptable, sustainable, and resilient are the ones that remain most relevant to their customers over the long-run.

Every organization would like to achieve this; it means understanding the concept of being adaptable; agility is a consequence of that adaptability throughout your entire organization.

To make it in a better and easier way, you can go for an agile project management tool that organizes projects, sprints, tasks, manage resources and tracks time effortlessly.

So have you tried such a tool? Sign Up and get a 1-month FREE TRIAL

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