The project management "bandwagon void"

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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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Posted by John E Williams on 4th Jun 2015

About the Author

Project and Program Management Consultant, and founder of leading UK independent project management consultancy ProjExc. Prior to consultancy I lead a number of high profile projects in the military, telecommunications and oil & gas sectors, as well as leading the European PM function for a well known mobile industry leader. At ProjExc (Project Excellence) we help organisations to improve their project management capability, and via our PM Advisor website (pmadvisor.co.uk) we help individuals with free resources, templates, PM news and coaching/mentoring services.

I am an active volunteer for the APM in the Midlands, sitting on the branch committee and chair of the Corporate Members sub-committee.

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