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There is a buzz word that is being thrown into conversations... 'agile'

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There is a new trend beginning to emerge among some of our clients who are running multiple business change programmes. There is a buzz word that is being thrown into conversations… ‘agile’ eg. “We take an agile approach to our projects.” 

This immediately fills me with concern when client starts using the word ‘agile’. Not that I have any concerns with the agile project management methodology. But there is a definite gap between those who are using the word agile and those who actually understand the agile project management methodology. Agile is often used as an excuse to not write any project documentation, to work chaotically, to be unorganised!

Hiring managers are in some cases even less sure, asking for formal project management qualifications such as APMP on the candidate’s CV, yet looking for project managers to adopt an agile way of working. Of course, we all should work in an agile way, who doesn’t want to be agile? But this is not the agile software development methodology that some organisations are looking to adopt for non-software related projects.

What does this mean for candidates? Become an expert. You need to understand and be able to explain the real agile methodology as opposed to working in an agile way. There is a definite need for this expertise particularly as IT projects are more and more being seen as a portion of a wider business change project. Can you manage a whole business change project if a portion of that project uses the agile method and the rest doesn’t? 

Vince Hines is managing director at Wellingtone Project Management, an APM career development partner and a judge for this year’s APM Awards.



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  1. Russell Whitworth
    Russell Whitworth 14 November 2014, 02:14 PM

    Vince,I'm not sure what you mean by "Agile Project Management Methodology". If you are referring to Agile Scrum, then that is a development methodology that explicitly does not include a PM role. Or perhaps you are using "agile" in a more generic sense?Russell.

  2. Adrian Pyne
    Adrian Pyne 11 November 2014, 08:07 PM

    A well raised concern Chris. I think it is Steven Carver at Cranfield that tells a sad story about his visit to a media company who wanted some advice about their agile approach. When he asked them to describe and walk through their approach they looked confused and said, "approach? we don't have one, we're agile, quick, unconstrained, unplanned, un-hindered......". Oh dear thought Steven.And then there is my bandwagon oft written about here. Those who think Agile development methods are agile project management methods. They are not. Anymore than Waterfall is a PM method.I have in fact argued, including a conferences, that a professional PM is, but their nature, agile. So who needs to invent an Agile PM method?  What we need to do is develop professionals who can adapt....applying agile and lean thinking.And then there is the small thing of creating environments in which agile projects can thrive. What I call Agile Organisational Project Management. Mostly an adaptation by the way, a puliing together of approaches - People, Process, Technology, developed with Montydog Consulting. I don't claim to have discovered the holy grail. Nice one Vince.