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The project management "bandwagon void"

I attended Project Challenge in Birmingham in March. There was a general agile hum, and endless pitches for P3 software tools. One notable seminar that I attended was by Paul Bradley of SPOCE (@prince2expert). Paul provided a super simplification of traditional PRINCE2™ on one page.

Paul's presentation got me thinking about a big void between the “majestic" way on one side, and the agile path on the other.

Over the last 4 or 5 years I have observed a clear trend. An increasing number of project managers, and organisations, have reacted to their negative perceptions of the PRINCE2™ “bandwagon”. While it has supported numerous training companies, I (and others I know) often hear real concerns voiced about:

  • unnecessary complexity,
  • administrative burden,
  • pointless qualifications, and
  • project managers creating paperwork to excuse their failure, rather than putting their effort into ensuring success.

Many of the dis-affected have understandably jumped to the "greener grass" of agile, being:

  • self-managing,
  • no PM,
  • light touch,
  • flexible & responsive, but often with little or no governance.

Agile is a super solution for many projects, especially those involved in software or service product development. Many of those who have dipped their toes into agile projects have seen excellent results. Others have ended up with some hybrid waterfall and agile mix. Understandably, some argue that Agile is the new project management “bandwagon".

There is however a big gap for those who remain disappointed by the results from their investments in PRINCE2™, but are unable to adopt formal agile methods. As a profession we have a responsibility to bridge this gap.  We need to help those who may not necessarily be project management professionals, and are responsible for delivering projects in an ever increasingly demanding environment.

Several bodies (including APM) are showing signs of getting to grips with project management in our increasingly agile world. However I can’t help but feel there is a long way to go. Axelos have the new PRINCE2 Agile™ coming in June. Whilst this and similar initiatives are welcome, great care will be needed to avoid pushing organisations further from trusting the profession.
 

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  1. Michael Hayton
    Michael Hayton 13 June 2015, 10:42 AM

    I agree with a lot of John's thoughts in this blog. We all know that Project Management is a broad church, used in many sectors to deliver many different products and services, and so adopting / adapting techniques from other sectors becomes an interesting challenge where the answer of 'what's best' isn't necessarily clear. My organisation delivers construction projects and services. Some of our projects and services benefit from traditional waterfall techniques, some from agile techniques, and others from a hybrid of the two. Ultimately we want to deliver good projects that are efficent and well controlled, and we're trying to learn how we can use both waterfall and agile techniques for to maximise benefit to both our clients and ourselves.John is right that this can be challenging and though provoking for experienced Project Managers, never mind other staff (incl. senior staff) that become involved in Project or Change delivery where P3 manmagement is not their core competence.The trust issue is an interesting one. Welll trained, effective people leading projects within a clear but flexible framework is our way forward. Ultimately people lead projects, and are often in the best position to decide which approach best fits a specific construction or service delivery requirement.It is an interesting and challenging time for Project Management, I like the fact that people like John feel comfortable with saying 'We don't know what the answer is' - this is the truth in many sectors, but        

  2. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 05 June 2015, 06:06 AM

    This blog continues the confusion between product development and project management. Project management is responsible for ensuring the product is developed and delivered. Product development is focused on creating the product. The way a projects is managed has to adapt to the product development being used, see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PDF_Papers/P109_Thoughts_on_Agile.pdf  One of the key thing to remember is that many IT jobs are probably not projcts see:  https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2009/03/06/de-projectising-it-maintenance/ 

  3. digi world
    digi world 27 August 2019, 04:45 AM

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