Are There Project Managers in Agile?

I recently responded to a question “Are there project managers in Agile?” It’s a good question and it comes up often so I thought I would share the answer here in my blog. There’s actually a lot of “project management” going on in an Agile project, but it’s a different kind of “project management” and you may not find anyone at the team level in an Agile project with the title of “Project Manager”.

Are there project managers in Agile?

What is “Project Management”?

Here’s a definition of “project management” that I copied from a Quora discussion forum I participate in:

“Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives within the time, cost, scope and other relevant constraints”

That’s a fairly well-established definition of what “project management” is that hasn’t changed significantly since the 1950’s and 1960’s at least.  In fact, it is so well-established that many people see that as the only way to do project management and don’t even recognize Agile as a form of project management at all.

What’s wrong with that definition?

There have been many projects that have met their cost and schedule goals for delivering well-defined requirements yet failed to deliver a sufficient level of business value to offset the costs of the project.  That happens frequently in situations where there is a high level of uncertainty and risk associated with attempting to totally define the project requirements in detail prior to the start of the project. When you attempt to force-fit all projects to a traditional, plan-driven project management approach, you’re openly inviting failure if there is a high level of uncertainty in the project.

What Does a Broader Vision of “Project Management” Look Like?

What’s needed is to adopt a broader view of “project management” that is focused on producing value  and not simply meeting cost and schedule goals for well-defined requirements.  (Meeting cost and schedule constraints may be one component of value that the project produces but not the only component) That’s the challenge for project managers of the future. Project Managers of the future need to be able to take on a project with fairly broadly-defined objectives in a dynamic and uncertain environment and develop a solution to meet those objectives using whatever blend of traditional plan-driven project management and Agile principles and practices makes sense for that situation.

I recognize that is an ambitious vision and it will be difficult to achieve for many project managers to achieve but I think the survival of the project management profession depends on it. In the not-too-distant future, project managers who only know how to manage projects using a traditional, plan-driven approach to project management will become dinosaurs in many industry and application areas, in my opinion.

What is Needed to Get There?

PMI is moving slowly in that direction. The creation of the PMI-ACP certification at least recognizes Agile is important for project managers to understand but it doesn’t go far enough in my opinion – Agile and traditional, plan-driven project management are still treated as separate and independent domains of knowledge with little or no integration between the two and it is left completely up to the individual project manager to figure out how to put the two approaches together.

That is exactly the goal I have established for the online Agile Project Management training curriculum I’ve developed – to help project managers see these two approaches in a fresh new perspective as complementary to each other rather than competitive and to learn how to blend Agile and traditional, plan-driven project management principles and practices in the right proportions to fit any situation.

What Else is Different in an Agile Environment?

Another thing that is significantly different in an Agile environment is that the functions that might normally be performed by a single individual with the title of “Project Manager” are typically distributed among the members of the team at the team level rather than being done by one designated individual. For that reason, you typically will not find anyone with the title of “Project Manager” at the team level in an Agile environment.

Distributing the project management functions among everyone on the team has a lot of advantages in a dynamic and fast paced environment. Having a single “Project Manager” as a single point of focus for project management is appropriate in a traditional, plan-driven project where the emphasis is on control, but it is less than optimal in an Agile environment where there is less emphasis on control and more emphasis on flexibility and adaptivity and a single point of control can easily become a bottleneck.

What’s Left for a Project Manager to Do in Agile?

If there is no formal role for a “Project manager” at the team level in an Agile environment, the logical question is “what’s left for a project manager to do?”. There are a number of possibilities but you might not recognize any of them as a traditional project management role and all of them go beyond the skills of a traditional, plan-driven project manager.

  • At the team level, although you may not find anyone with the title of “Project Manager”, there is a need for “project management” and many of the team members may not be well-prepared to take on those functions.  In that environment, an experienced Agile Project Manager can help coach the other members of the team in how to integrate the necessary focus on project management with their work in an Agile environment. That can be done either by an Agile Coach who also has project management skills to coach and mentor the team members or by integrating someone who has project management skills with one of the other team roles such as the Scrum Master or Product Owner.
  • For various reasons, many companies will choose to implement a hybrid approach that blends an Agile and traditional project management approach.  An example would be Agile contracts.  There is a big opportunity for Agile Project Managers in this environment
  • Finally, at a higher level, there are a number of opportunities for project managers to take on larger and more complex projects and programs with multiple teams and to help companies develop a strategy for integrating Agile and traditional project management principles and practices in the right proportions with their business environment

For more on this, I suggest taking my free online training course called “How to Prepare for PMI-ACP Certification”. There is some material in that course on the potential roles that a project manager might play in an Agile environment.

What is the Real Essence of Agile?

It’s apparent to me that a lot of people have gotten so heavily focused on the mechanics of how Agile is implemented that they’ve lost sight of the big picture of what “Agile” is really all about.  The term “Agile” has taken on a number of different meanings today that are largely based on how it is implemented.  For many people, “Agile” has become synonymous with Scrum and if you’re not doing Scrum and doing it “by the book”, you’re not really Agile at all.  I think it is useful to step back and take a look at “What is the real essence of Agile”?

What is the Real Essence of Agile?

What is the Real Essence of Agile?

The real essence of “Agile”, in my opinion, is that it puts an emphasis on being adaptive to customer and business needs in order to maximize the value of the solution rather than following a rigidly-defined plan with an emphasis on managing costs and schedules of delivering the solution. For that reason, I like to use the terms “adaptive” and “plan-driven” rather than terms like “Agile” and “Waterfall”.

  • The terms “Agile” and “Waterfall” make it sound like you’re comparing two specific methodologies – one called “Agile” and one called “Waterfall” and that’s not really accurate.  “Agile” is not really a specific methodology or framework like Scrum; it is much broader than that – it is a way of thinking defined by the Agile Manifesto
  • The “Agile versus Waterfall” kind of thinking leads people to think that there is a binary and mutually-exclusive choice between those two approaches and that causes people  to try to force-fit a project to one of those extremes.  The right approach is to go in the other direction and fit the methodology to the nature of the problem and sometimes that requires a blending the two approaches in the right proportions to fit the problem

When Does Agile Work Best?

Agile works best in situations that have a high-level of uncertainty where it isn’t practical or possible to define the solution to the problem upfront.  In that kind of situation, it is much more effective to use an adaptive approach to incrementally and iteratively define the solution in more detail as the project is in progress rather than attempting to define detailed requirements for the solution upfront.

The example I like to use to illustrate this is finding a cure for cancer.   If you set out to define a project to find a cure for cancer, it would be ridiculous to try to define a detailed plan upfront; there’s just far too much uncertainty.  The only approach that is likely to work is an iterative, trial-and-error approach to find a solution.

Agile is based on what is called an “Empirical Process Control” model.  The word “Empirical” means “based on observation” and that means that in an Agile project, both the requirements for the solution AND the process for developing the solution are continuously refined as the project is in progress.

What’s the Alternative?

That kind of empirical process control model approach is naturally not the most efficient approach if there is a low level of uncertainty and it is possible to easily define detailed requirements for the solution prior to the start of the project. In that situation, a trial-and-error approach really isn’t necessary and a plan-driven approach is much more appropriate and much more efficient.

The example I like to use to illustrate this scenario is building a bridge across a river. If you were defining a project to construct a bridge across a river, it would be ridiculous to say “we’ll take an adaptive approach, build the first span of the bridge, and decide how we will build the rest of the bridge after we’ve completed the first span. That wouldn’t make any sense.

This kind of situation calls for a plan-driven approach that is based on a defined process control model. The key advantage of a defined process model is that it is predictable and repeatable and it is probably more efficient for projects with a low level of uncertainty. If you designed a process for building a bridge and it has proven successful once, the same process or a variation of that process is likely to work in another similar situation with somewhat predictable results.

What if it is Between Those Extremes?

Very few real world situations are as extreme and clear-cut as the ones I’ve used of finding a cure for cancer and building a bridge across a river. Most real-world situations fall somewhere between those two extremes. There is some level of uncertainty but it’s not complete uncertainty. You rarely start any project without at least some idea of what the solution is going to look like although the solution may be progressively refined in more detail as the project is in progress. There’s a range of approaches that look something like this:

Range of Agility

In this kind of situation, you have to tailor the approach to fit the nature of the project and one of the biggest factors to consider is the level of uncertainty associated with the solution. That requires more skill but it definitely can be done. It requires knowledge of a broader range of methodologies (both plan-driven and adaptive (Agile)) and it requires a deeper knowledge of the principles behind the methodologies in order to know how to tailor them to fit a given situation. You can’t just force-fit a situation to some predefined methodology (whatever it might be) and do it mechanically.

In my book on Agile Project Management, I use the analogy of a project manager as a “cook” versus a project manager as a “chef”. A “cook” knows how to prepare a few simple “recipes” by the book; a “chef” knows how to prepare a much broader range of recipes with more exotic ingredients and even knows how to improvise his/her own recipes when required. This clearly raises the bar for a lot of project managers – it is no longer sufficient in many situations to force-fit a project to some predefined approach (whatever it might be). You have to fit the approach to the nature of the problem and that’s exactly the challenge that my online Agile Project Management training is designed to address.

When is Agile NOT Totally Appropriate?

I am often asked by my students “When is Agile NOT Totally Appropriate?”. 

When is Agile NOT Totally Appropriate?
Here’s a good example…

My wife and I are in the process of purchasing a new home that is now under construction.  This is the second new construction home we’ve bought in our lifetime.  The first time we built a new construction home, the builder did not allow much customization at all – there were very few choices that the builder allowed making in the house.   He gave us a price for the house and we had only a few minor choices to make.  It was clearly a traditional, plan-driven project management approach – changes were very limited and there was a very disciplined and well-documented process for managing any changes.

The builder that we’re currently working with is not that way – there are several different floor plans to choose from and almost anything can be customized.  For example, my neighbor wanted a 3-car garage instead of a 2-car garage and that was no problem (he had to pay for it of course).  Aside from customizations, there are also many detailed decisions that need to be made to select light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, floor tiles, cabinets, countertops, etc.

This is definitely more of an Agile approach that is adaptive to customer needs but there’s definitely a downside of allowing this level of customization without some level of control.  This particular builder has at least 20 houses in various stages of construction and all of them have some level of customization; so the builder has a lot of balls in the air at the same time and some problems have become apparent:

  • The first problem we experienced was when the foundation for the house was poured and we found that the floor plan was a mirror image of what we were expecting
  • Recently we did a walk-through of the house to see how it was coming along and we found several things that didn’t match what we thought we had agreed to with the builder
    • There was a window in the sunroom where there was supposed to be a sliding door
    • There was a door to a hallway where there should have been just an entranceway with no door
  • My next-door neighbors had problems with cabinets in their kitchen not fitting in as they expected them to fit

This is a perfect example of the need to blend Agile and traditional plan-driven project management practices in the right proportions to fit the situation.  This builder has been very responsive to customer needs for customization; however, there is still a need for a more disciplined approach to stakeholder management and  change control normally found in a traditional, plan-driven project management approach to manage all these detailed decisions and changes.  The builder corrected all of these problems but I’m sure that there was a cost involved in making those corrections that could have been avoided by doing it right the first time.

Another key point is that it is also not a binary and mutually-exclusive choice between a totally uncontrolled “Agile” approach and a rigidly planned and controlled “Waterfall” approach as many people seem to think.  It is very possible to blend a level of flexibility and adaptability to be responsive to customer needs and changes and still have a sufficient level of control to manage the project effectively.  It takes more skill to do that but it definitely can be done.  Having the right processes, systems, and tools to support that approach is also essential.   In this particular situation, there were some obvious problems:

      1. There was a contract defining what the builder will deliver; however, there have been multiple revisions of the contract still in circulation that have not been well-controlled so it is difficult to determine what has been agreed to and what has not been agreed to
      2. The process for making changes was not well-defined and was somewhat loose.   Many changes were often based on an email conversation or, even worse, on a simple hallway conversation that was not well-documented at all

The key lesson to be learned from this is that you need to fit the approach and the methodology to the nature of the situation rather than force-fitting all projects to either a pure “Agile” or pure “Waterfall” approach.  And, sometimes that requires blending Agile and traditional, plan-driven project management principles and practices in the right proportion to fit the situation.

 

Help Promote an Agile Project Management Approach

Would you like to help promote an Agile Project Management approach that could potentially rejuvenate the whole project management profession? (By the way, what I mean by “Agile Project Management” is the ability to blend Agile and traditional, plan-driven project management principles and practices in the right proportions to fit a given situation)

  • Are you as passionate about Agile Project Management as I am?
  • Do you agree that any project manager who only knows how to do traditional plan-driven project management will be at a serious disadvantage in many industries and application areas in the not-too-distant future?
  • Would you like to help the project management profession move into the next generation of project management?
  • Would you like to also earn some extra cash helping to bring about that change?

As many of you may know, I have developed a very comprehensive online training course on Agile Project Management with over 17,000 students.  However, that is only the beginning and I need help to try to dramatically expand the number of students the courses reach.

The new platform at the Agile Project Management Academy has some very interesting new capabilities such as  “affiliate marketing” that allows me to offer the capability for any student to be an “affiliate”.  If you are an “affiliate”, you will receive a commission of 25% for any new students you bring into the Agile Project Management Academy.

This is an opportunity for any student to earn a little extra cash to defer their own training expenses; or, if you are a PMI member, this could be an opportunity for your entire PMI chapter to get some additional revenue and get PDU’s for your members at the same time. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, send me an email  and I’ll sign you up.

What’s the Value of Project Management?

I recently participated in a discussion on Quora where someone asked the question “What’s the value of Project Management?” The person who answered the question did an excellent job and his answer was spot-on in the context of traditional, plan-driven project management; however, I think there’s a need to rethink that in the context of Agile Project Management.

What's the value of project management?

His answer to this question centered on the fact that “project management is about change” and that is absolutely correct. It went through a scenario of a typical company that builds widgets:

In the Widget Company, everyone is consumed with building widgets and building them as efficiently as possible. That is what “process management” is all about.  However, suppose one day the CEO of the company went to a widget convention and found that other companies were building much better widgets for half the price. That’s where project management comes in – when you have to make a change such as introducing a new product to remain competitive.

For that reason, project management is the lifeblood of many companies – it is what keeps the company competitive and on the leading edge of the markets they serve. Great companies have to continuously evolve to remain competitive and sometimes that might require significant change. An example of that I like to use is American Express. American Express started out over 150 years ago in the railway express shipping business shipping boxes on rail cars. If they had continued in that business, they might not be doing so well today but they have continuously adjusted to changes in the market and technology over that period of time.

Let’s go back to the Widget Company example – suppose that after coming back from the widget convention, the CEO of the Widget Company determined that:

  • He didn’t want to just adopt a “me too” strategy and build the same kind of widget that everyone else was building
  • He wanted to go beyond that and build something really unique and innovative that would go well beyond what the rest of the competitors had to offer
  • And, he wanted to get it to market quickly before any other competitor could develop a similar product

Suppose that no one really knows exactly what that means in terms of detailed product requirements for whatever the new widget is? That’s where Agile Project Management comes in. It works best in situations where it is difficult to define detailed requirements for a product before the project starts and where you have get started quickly and get something to market as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that situation, rather than taking time to define detailed requirements before starting the project, you would start with a vision of what the product should be and take an incremental and iterative approach to continuously refine the product as the project was in progress.   That’s exactly the kind of effort that an Agile Project Manager should be able to lead.

When you ask many people “What’s the value of project management?”, many people will think that the value of project management is being able to plan and execute projects to deliver well-defined requirements within a given cost and schedule. That is a very common image of the value of project management that has been well-ingrained into many project managers for many years. In today’s world, I think we have to broaden that notion. Simply managing projects to meet cost and schedule goals may be important but it isn’t sufficient in many cases.

Technology is changing rapidly in many areas and that makes it difficult to adopt a traditional, plan-driven approach to project management because it just isn’t feasible in many cases to develop detailed project requirements for a project before it starts and being competitive often requires a much more aggressive and dynamic approach. That calls for a more Agile approach and the value of project management is really about bringing about change using whatever project management approach is most appropriate to fit the situation.

That’s a broader view of the value of project management that I think is much more consistent with the world we live in today.

Agile Project Management Student Guide

This post provides a description of an Agile Project Management Student Guide that contains an Agile Project Management learning road map. Over the past two years, I’ve developed seven online training courses to help project managers who may have been heavily indoctrinated in a traditional, plan-driven approach to project management develop a high performance adaptive project management approach that blends Agile and traditional, plan-driven project management in the right proportions to fit any given situation.

Even if you are never involved in a true Agile project, these courses will help you develop a much stronger project management approach that provides a more customer-focused approach to fit the methodology to the nature of the project.

Agile Project Management Student Guide

This can be a difficult and confusing transformation for many project managers and to make this journey easier, I’ve just finished developing an Agile Project Management Student Guide that provides a road map to better understand how the courses I’ve developed help a project manager to address these challenges. You can download a free copy of the student guide from the link below:



Download Agile Project Management Academy Student Guide


Learn More about our Agile Project Management Training Program

Free Podcast on Agile and Waterfall

I’m very pleased to announce that a free podcast on Agile and Waterfall that I did with Chad McAllister is now available on the web through Chad’s “Everyday Innovator” site. You can check it out here:

TEI 078: Traditional vs Agile project management for product managers–with Chuck Cobb, PhD

This podcast is an excellent summary of an interview I had with Chad McAllister.   Chad is the host of The Everyday Innovator podcast, author of Turning Ideas into Market-Winning Products, and founder of Product Innovation Educators.  He is a Top 40 Product Management Influencer and a Top 10 Innovation Blogger and he helps product managers become product masters.

In this interview you will learn:

  • How to compare waterfall and agile approaches,
  • The problems agile project management strives to solve,
  • Why both planned and adaptive approaches need to be used, and
  • Common issues encountered when adopting agile project management

This interview and podcast are designed to help Product Managers and others understand how to blend Agile and traditional plan-driven project management practices in the right proportions to fit a given situation.  This interview and podcast should be of benefit to anyone who is interested in developing a fresh new perspective to see these two seemingly disparate approaches (Agile and Waterfall) in a fresh new perspective as complementary to each other rather than competitive.

Hope you enjoy this interview and podcast!

PS  Chad made a minor mistake in the title of his blog – he has me down as a PhD and I’m not a PhD.

Politics and Agile Project Management

Have you ever thought about the relationship of what’s going on in politics and Agile Project Management? I think there’s possibly a significant relationship between the two. Look at what is happening in politics throughout the world:

  • In the UK,  regardless of whether the decision to leave the EU is right or wrong, the “Brexit” vote indicates that many people want to have much more direct control of their own government
  • In the US,  Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump probably couldn’t be further apart in their political orientation but they do have one very significant thing in common – they are both attractive to people who are frustrated with the bureaucratic and cumbersome nature of establishment politics.

What Do People Really Want?

Without taking sides in any of these political contests, the pattern seems to be clear – people are fed up with bureaucracy and traditional, establishment politics and want a radical change.  However, many people are beginning to be concerned about the potential impact of such radical change.  What will be the impact of tossing out all of our experienced political leaders and moving to a much more unpredictable environment?  I don’t think anyone really knows the answer to that question.

Politics and Agile Project Management

Does that sound familiar?  I think it does. 

What’s the Relationship to Agile Project Management?

A lot of organizations and people are fed up with force-fitting a traditional, plan-driven project management approach on their organizations that hasn’t changed significantly since the 1950’s and 1960’s.   They want to get rid of bureaucratic and cumbersome management processes.  Many businesses and people want radical change and they see Agile as a potential solution to that need.  However, tossing out all of the established way of doing things is a concern to many people and organizations.

An Agile Project Management approach can provide a nice compromise.   It provides a way to break away from a traditional, plan-driven project management approach; however, it doesn’t really require completely tossing out all of the established ways of doing things and starting completely over from scratch.  It provides a way to customize a management solution to fit the needs of a given business environment and projects.

If you look at what has happened with Agile, the Agile Manifesto that was developed fifteen years ago in 2001 started a revolution and many people in the Agile community have advocated a fairly radical approach to get rid of traditional, plan-driven project management altogether.   On the other side of that fence, there have been some project managers who are resisting this change and are equally polarized on insisting that a traditional, plan-driven approach is the only way to do project management and are force-fitting that approach on all projects.

What Does the Future Look Like?

I think that the polarization between the project management community and the Agile community is starting to fade away as people start to see that it is possible to blend the two approaches together in the right proportions to fit a given situation.   I hope it doesn’t take a long time for the polarization that exists in the current political environment to fade away.  Countries are like businesses in a sense – they are much stronger if the people in the country and business are unified around a common direction for the country/business and countries/businesses are weakened by excessive polarization and fragmentation.

Achieving that kind of unifying vision isn’t easy either in politics or in a business environment.  In both cases, it takes strong leadership to bring people together.  That’s why I’m so passionate about helping to develop that kind of leader in the Agile Project Management community.

 

Why Do We Need Project Managers?

Suppose that you happen to be riding in an elevator with a senior manager and you are asked the question, “Why do we need project managers?”.   You have about 15 seconds to come up with a simple and general answer that is going to be meaningful to a senior executive to convince him/her that project managers are critical to the success of their business.

If you asked a number of people that question of “Why do we need project managers?”, you would probably get a broad range of responses.  Many people would answer the question in terms of the typical things that project managers do such as planning and organizing projects and managing costs and schedules and those are all true but they are only tasks that project managers have been known to take on and many of those things that people typically associate with project mangers have a fairly narrow association with only a traditional, plan-driven project management role.

Why do we need project managers?

“Project Management” is a fairly broad role and there are many different kinds of project managers that have different kinds of specializations.  The role is also getting even broader as a result of Agile Project Management.  I think there is a need to take a broader view of what “project management” is and define it in terms that describe the role that an Agile Project Manager might play as well as a traditional, plan-driven project manager.

If you had to boil it all down to a simple explanation, I would say this:

A project manager increases the probability of a project successfully meeting its business objectives by applying the most effective combination of people, process, and tools to solve the problem and providing the essential leadership to guide the project in the right direction for it to be successful.

That’s a fairly broad definition but I think a broad definition like that is needed in today’s world in order to redefine the role that a project manager plays that isn’t limited to the traditional, plan-driven project management role that many people heavily associate with “project management”.  We’ve got to start thinking of “project management” in broader terms than the traditional, plan-driven approach to project management that has been around since the 1950’s and 1960’s.

A lot of project managers get totally consumed in the tasks of doing project management and may not see the big picture that the real goal is not to just plan and control projects to meet cost and schedule goals the real goal is to solve business problems using whatever process is appropriate to solve the problem.  That’s what the Agile Project Management courses I’ve developed are all about.

What is the Future of Project Management?

Background


I’ve written a number of articles on the future of project management and I still get a lot of questions from project managers who are confused about the impact of Agile on project management and ask questions like “What Agile certification should I get?”. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just going out and getting another certification like PMI-ACP and “poof – you are an Agile Project Manager”. The PMI-ACP certification is a step in the right direction and it’s not an easy certification to get but it’s just a test of general Lean and Agile knowledge and is not aligned with a particular role. In fact, the role of an Agile Project Manager Is not well-defined and there is even some controversy among some people that there is a role for an Project Manager In an Agile environment.

Confusion Over Project Management Direction


It’s totally understandable why there would be a lot of confusion among project managers as to how Agile and the future of project management impact their career direction. There are some project managers who are in “denial” and want to assume that traditional, plan-driven project management is the only way to do project management, will go on forever unchanged, and Agile isn’t really a valid form of project management at all. I’m not an Agile zealot – I try to take a very objective and pragmatic approach. In one of my courses I have a slide that says “Saying Agile is better than Waterfall” is like saying “A car is better than a boat”. They both have advantages and disadvantages depending on the environment. You have to be able to fit the approach to the problem rather than force-fitting all problems to one of those extremes. I am convinced that project managers who only know how to do traditional, plan-driven project management and try to force-fit all projects to that approach will be at a severe disadvantage relative to other project managers who know how to blend Agile and traditional project management in the right proportions to fit the situation.

What’s Wrong with Traditional, Plan-driven Project Management?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the traditional, plan-driven approach to project management; the problem is in how its applied. The primary problem with the traditional, plan-driven approach is that it works for situations where the requirements are well-defined and the primary concern is planning and managing a project to meet those well-defined requirements within a given budgeted cost and schedule. That approach just doesn’t work well in situations where the requirements are much more uncertain and the primary concern is not just managing costs and schedules but taking an adaptive approach to maximize the business results and value that the project produces.  In today’s rapidly-changing business environment the need for taking that kind of approach is becoming increasingly common.

The Future of Project Management

There’s essentially two sides of this equation: value and cost – in the past, with most traditional plan-driven projects, the value side has been assumed to be well-defined and fixed and project managers only needed to worry  about the cost side.  In this new environment, that is no longer true – project managers now need to worry about both maximizing value as well as managing costs and schedules.  That’s a fundamental shift in thinking for many project managers – it means:

  • Taking a broader focus on maximizing the business value that a project produces and using whatever methodology (or combination of methodologies) that makes sense to achieve those goals
  • Fitting the project management approach to the nature of the business problem rather than force-fitting all projects to a standard, plan-driven approach.

That raises the bar significantly for many project managers and there is no certification that I know of that will prepare you to take on that role.  Even PMI hasn’t completely figured this out – Agile and traditional plan-driven project management are still treated as separate and independent domains of knowledge with little or no integration between the two.  It’s left up to the project manager to figure out how to blend those two seemingly disparate approaches together in the right proportions to fit the situation.

The Agile Project Management Academy

That’s exactly the challenge for the future of project management profession that the courses in the Agile Project Management Academy are designed to address, but at this point in time, you have to be somewhat of a pioneer to lead the rest of the project management profession into a new vision for the future of project management that embraces Agile as well as a traditional, plan-driven project management approach.

The Future of Project Management
I hope you will join me in taking on this challenge to prove to the world that there is an important, value-added role for project managers in an Agile environment.

Blending Agile and Traditional Project Management

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