by Jim Vaughan

Project Managers Should Embrace Agile

Apr 23, 2010
IT Leadership

The agile methodology can increase your projects performance if you manage it properly.

I must admit that when I first heard all the hype about Agile that I was a bit scared. At first glance agile appeared to look like the work I did before I discovered project management some 25 years ago. Before implementing project management in my work, we worked hard to get things done as quickly as possible. This is what agile sounded like to me.

Looking more deeply into agile I realized that it can be executed in an ad hoc environment as well as in a very well managed environment. In an ad hoc environment this would look much like the work I did before discovering the benefits of project management. However, in a well structured organization the agile methodology can also fit right in.

I remember executing an informal methodology that we had called “small fanatical teams.” We did this when we wanted to focus on a smaller project, or a piece of a project, to achieve quick success to satisfy a customer need. We executed this process as a subset of our more structured processes. These small fanatical teams would execute pieces, one might even say work packages, of the larger project. In that way this work would tie directly into the larger project.

In order to make agile work in a in a highly managed project environment the project manager must be engaged and supportive of the methodology. As I described earlier, the project manager needs to view this work as a work package of the larger project. The project manager needs to ensure that the work being performed is truly a part of the project and fits into the work breakdown structure of the project.

Should you decide to resist or ignore the methodology it is likely that some of your teams may take off on their own and do it anyway. Not being controlled and contained by the project manager could cause this work to out of scope of the project.

Embracing, supporting and even promoting agile methodology as a project manager can greatly improve your project performance. More importantly it can create quick wins that will increase customer satisfaction.