Agile and project management – Advice from the warriors

Agile is as agile does. There has been a lot of press and hype about agile software development since the Agile Manifesto in 2001was made public. Well, those visionary ideas are a decade old now. So, I thought I would glance around the web and see the comments and advice from experienced practitioners of non-traditional management. I have written on this topic before (Agile Project Management in April 2010), but have continued to read thoughts on the subject from esteemed colleagues.

First: A couple key points from the original Agile Manifesto:

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Deliver working software frequently.
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

Comments from Practitioners:
Here are some of the practitioner’s comments from my readings:

George Mattie
“As I understand it, agile as a methodology does not allow you to overcome the basic physics outlined in the triple constraint (ed. cost, time, scope.) Agile simply prioritizes the tradeoff as one of scope rather than time or quality.”

“On teams that work in creative services, like those found in advertising and in consulting agencies, often the person who serves as the project lead is not a project manager.”

Bill Krebs
Have short daily meetings addressing three questions:

  1. What did they do yesterday?
  2. What will they do today?
  3. What roadblocks stand in their way?

From A New Take on Standup Meetings offered by Bill Krebs.

Glen Alleman
There is an initiative to connect Agile Software Development with Earned Value Management. I’ve talked a couple of times on this topic…..  The critical issue is what is wrong with the agile software development process you are using now? Is Scrum working to deliver products on time, on budget, and meeting customer needs? If so, then what can EV add to the mix? Not much would be my contribution, on programs that do not have an EV mandate?
Excerpt from Glen’s BLOG, Herding Cats.

Alan Bustamante
(paraphrasing) Veteran project managers may find the paradigm shift, from being a specialist to needing to be a generalist, too much, and become alienated from project management or their project role.

This theme continues with a comment from Ferrix Hovi on PM Tips, “When I close my eyes, I can hear the roar of a giant waterfall. As a scrum practitioner, I feel there is little justification for a project manager role doing the specified things.”

Countering Ferrix’s suggestion to retire all project managers were these comments (with which I agree) from Donna Burgess, “Self-managing’ teams still need a leader, a protector, a decision maker, a planner, a shield, a guide, a problem solver. Sadly, many Agile evangelists will only understand the value of a PM when they don’t have one.”

My recommendations for moving to Agile would be to try it on a small to medium project. Agile is best suited for small teams, no more than 7-10 people. If working a large project, it is recommended that you break down to small groups and manage a Scrum of Scrums.… Get the team indoctrinated in Agile before starting if at all possible. It puts everyone on the same page from the beginning.”  Jim Skinner, PMP, North Carolina Department of Insurance

“Every conversation about Agile project management eventually turns to the question of estimating. Rick Freedman explains why estimation in an Agile environment is not as mysterious as many PMs think.” (thoughtful article in TechRepublic.)

“Incorporating Agile management techniques into projects fosters a focus on the benefits of each feature. In traditional project management, the teams strive to finish the project on time and under budget and often lose sight of the overall benefits the entire effort is intended to bring the organization. It’s important to remember the strategy the project is expected to advance as well as the total cost of ownership and not just the project costs.” Kathleen B. Hass, PMP writing for Project Management World, The Blending of Traditional and Agile Project Management.

If this Agile stuff is something you want to explore, here are a few other resources:

More Details about PMI’s Agile Certification 120 question, multiple choice; 3 hr exam; pilot begins May 2011.

Top 20 Best Agile Development Books by Jurgen Appelo; June 2008


I hope you will add comments, resources, or thoughts on Agile development.

2 Responses to “Agile and project management – Advice from the warriors”

  1. William Fuhmey Says:

    I`m interested This
    Agile Artical.

    I totally get where you are coming from.
    For me, the goal of the startup is to create something of value as quickly as possible and
    with minimal cost / waste. In pursuit of this, visualization gives a startup team clarity and immediate direction. Options are made apparent and acted upon with maximum buy-in.

    In a startup, the kanban can be the focal point to allow rapid ideation, prototyping and
    release. It can also be used to experiment, kill bad ideas, and evolve rapidly.

  2. Professional ScrumMaster Class Offered in Austin Texas « Fear No Project – A Project Management Blog Says:

    […] from the role served by managers operating under traditional waterfall methods, as discussed in Agile and project management – Advice from the warriors and now a formal certification in the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner […]

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