Traditional project management vs Agile
Our recent experiences with organisations using Agile-based project methodologies has given me and others much pause for thought. When done well, when used on the right projects with the appropriate level of governance, the results are excellent. But used on the wrong projects, or using inappropriate governance, the results can be awful!
There appears to be three factors that demand special attention to enable organisations to make the best use of the evolving agile approaches to delivery and change management.
To enable organisations to optimise their change agility, the three factors to consider are: People, Governance and Delivery.
Whilst it’s important to consider these from individual initiatives’ perspectives, this is far out-weighed by dealing with the impacts on the wider organisation and project environment. If the organisation isn’t positioned to adopt the new ways of working – they won’t be fully effective.
The level of attention and emphasis that should be placed on each of the three areas varies between organisations. Think of successful change as a plate balancing on the top of the three coloured disks. Each disk will need to be adjusted to keep the dynamic balance needed.
We have found it is important to consider the current attitudes and approaches to each different area within the organisation before selecting the appropriate course of action. These include:
How is a focus on benefits management developed and maintained? This is particularly important (and often difficult) in an agile environment. Are the sponsors fully aware of the differences in demands made by taking an agile approach? Appropriate levels of sponsorship and clearly defined and relevant roles and responsibilities can require careful thought and modification. Governance is always a critical aspect where the initiatives require a ‘mixed economy’ of traditional Agile and project approaches.
Does the organisation have the right skills, in the right place at the right time? (The skills required may be different. E.g. a greater emphasis of stakeholder engagement and enhanced facilitation skills for those leading in an agile environment.) In addition engagement levels, interests of stakeholders and communications are likely to require greater attention – especially if working in an agile way is new to the organisation.
Is the user environment highly fluid? Are the requirements volatile, with complex interactions between solutions and stakeholder agendas? Are there technical concerns and innovative processes involved in the design or delivery? Are the stakeholders comfortable with Agile’s light-touch levels of planning, monitoring and control?
If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’ – Agile is an excellent approach to consider. In such situations, planning horizons that stretch beyond short sprints can be both pointless and a wasteful investment.
If the answer is ‘maybe’ or ‘no’ – the question becomes how much traditional project management would be valuable?
These have been found to be barriers to success in many organisations. Ensuring you can successfully govern, manage and deliver concurrent initiatives using Agile and traditional PPM techniques may well be the next big challenge to overcome. Are you ready and equipped to do so?
Is it better to adopt a single-minded approach, becoming more expert in that one approach? Or does a ‘mix and match’ approach suit the situation better? Continue the conversation in our chat box.