Developments in Agile Project Management
July 08, 2007
Earlier this year I submitted a presentation proposal for the PMI Global Congress conference held in Atlanta this October. I called it "Developments in Agile Project Management" and wrote up a pretty seductive outline that got accepted. That is all well and good, but now the accompanying paper is due and I have to decide what to write about!
I felt a little guilty submitting a proposal when I did not know what I was going to talk about, but in the agile spirit of delaying decisions to the `last-responsible-moment` it gave me the flexibility of including some late-breaking new discovery or trend that may have been missed by locking-in early. Plus, it is not as though I have nothing to present, rather that my choice of topics had not been finalized.
So, in this and my next couple of posts I will outline some of my thoughts on "Developments in Agile Project Management" and offer an open invitation for readers to provide feedback and suggest alternative topics.
The typical PMI conference attendee is not very familiar with agile methods. While the title will likely attract those who do know about agile, the majority will still only have a passing awareness of what it is all about. So I will have to keep the content fairly basic and prefix it with a quick tour of agile concepts to provide context. I`d love to present on something like `EVA to Andons: Mapping traditional metrics to agile-lean indicators`, but only a few people would understand it and many others may leave with the impression agile is just mumbo-jumbo and not for them. So, I think the topics should remain fairly basic to engage a large proportion of the audience.
My thoughts on the structure currently go like this:
- Agile methods have been gaining in popularity for software development projects
- As they are becoming more popular, new people are expanding their boundaries and application areas
Why software development is hard to manage
- The intangible nature of software
- Difficulty articulating true requirements
- High rates of change
- High complexity, sometimes R&D based, unprecedented
How Agile methods help
- Incremental delivery provides frequent checkpoints
- Iterative development reduces technical risk
- Lifecycle supports late breaking changes
How Agile methods work
- Business Prioritization
- Timeboxed iterations
- Communications and constraint removal
- Reviews, Retrospectives, acknowledgements and adaptation
Then once this overview is out of the way, introduce the topics that can be thought of as "Developments in Agile Project Management":
Accreditation – Like when children grow up and progress from playgroup to school and start experiencing exams, accreditation and certification in agile methods are increasing as we leave the kindergarten.
Redesigning the workplace to attract and retain Gen Y`ers – how the new generation who “grew up digital” and are now entering the workforce demand: inclusion, collaboration and empowerment – handily the approach promoted by agile methods.
Recognizing the link to leadership – how agile project management is more closely aligned to leadership best practice than traditional project management.
Support by tools and processes – How a new segment of agile project management tools and processes have emerged to support agile projects.
Integration with adjoining fields such as Lean Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints – How the boundaries between agile and these highly compatible fields are disappearing as a broader audience adopt agile and bring their own contributions and links.
This is probably more topics than I should attempt to cover in a paper or presentation but I wanted to get my ideas out there and ask for alternatives. If you where giving a presentation on "Developments in Agile Project Management" what would you include and why?
I teach a 2-day intro to Agile Methods at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and recently commented about my experiences with this course in my blog. Your outline looks sound, and you may want to consider the following:
* Some commentary (brief) on how this all came about - the creation of the Agile Manifesto, etc.
* Reworking of some of your bullet points. For example, I would replace "difficulty in articulating requirements" with "recognition and response to uncertainties."
* More specificity about self-directed teams, and the "project manager" as facilitator on projects and not as dictator.
* The responsibility the customer and business have on Agile projects vs. simply being sponsors and stakeholders.
* Resisting the primal urge (after all, you're presenting at the Global PMI conference...:)) to superimpose process and waterfall techniques onto Agile methods.
You should also expect to be challenged and grilled on what you present - not with hostility (hopefully) but you're cutting against the grain of everything that these people know and believe in. Especially PMPs. There is nothing wrong with their concerns, and we have to have good answers to them.
Take a look at my post for my similar experiences, and feel free to contact me if I can be of any help.
Posted by: Bob McIlree | July 08, 2007 at 03:52 PM
Many thanks for writing up these suggestions, they are all good points that I agree with and will incorporate into my paper and presentation.
Posted by: Mike Griffiths | July 09, 2007 at 07:42 AM