Most people will agree that there is a need for closing the gap between Agile and traditional project management communities – Agile and traditional project management are essentially treated as two separate and independent domains of knowledge with little or no integration between the two and that has led to some polarization between those two communities:
- On the Agile side, many Agile people think of “project management” as a bad word and see no need for it in an Agile project. The fact is that although you may not find anyone with the title of “Project Manager” in an Agile project, there’s lots of “project management” going on – its just a different style of project management and the functions are distributed among a number of people:
- The Product Owner in a Scrum project performs many project management functions by setting the direction and priorities for the project and making decisions as the project progresses
- The Scrum Master performs some project management functions by facilitating the team and the process as well as resolving obstacles
- Everyone on an Agile team performs some very basic project management functions in planning and managing their own work and the work of the team as a whole
- On the Project Management side, PMI has created the ACP certification that recognizes Agile as an alternative form of project management; however:
- That certification doesn’t go far enough to define what Agile Project Management is and how someone would use it in a typical project that might require blending Agile and traditional project management principles and practices to fit the situation.
- PMI needs to go a lot further to develop a broader concept of what “project management” is that fully embraces both Agile and traditional project management roles.
Many of the definitions in PMBOK such as what a “project” is and what “project management” is are based heavily on a traditional, plan-driven approach to project management and really wouldn’t apply to an Agile project. For that reason, it’s very understandable why someone in the Agile community would have the perception that traditional project management principles and practices don’t apply to Agile at all.
The important lesson to learn from this is that:
Just because you don’t see anyone with the formal title of “Project Manager” doesn’t mean that there is no project management going on.
In order to close this gap, I think it is essential to rethink some of the things we’ve taken for granted about project management for a long time to develop a new vision for “project management” that embraces both Agile and traditional plan-driven project management principles and practices. Agile and Traditional Project Management approaches need to be perceived as complementary rather than competitive approaches that are also capable of being blended together as necessary to fit a situation rather than being binary, mutually-exclusive choices.
I’ve recently drafted a document entitled “The Next Generation of Project Management” which outlines some of the more significant shifts in thinking that I think are needed and I’ve shared a preliminary draft of this document with some key people in PMI with some recommendations for what I believe needs to be done. That document has generated a lot of interest and some excellent comments and I’ve updated it to reflect the comments I received. Please take a look at it and let me know if you agree with this vision and recommendations: