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Agile Project Management Is Not Enough!

Agile Project ManagementFor agile project management, agile methodologies such as Scrum and eXtreme Programming alone are not enough.

eXtreme Programming (XP) is excellent for agile engineering practices that improve product quality, and User Stories from XP are an excellent way to simplify the understanding and management of requirements on a piecemeal basis.

Scrum is excellent for managing a project team’s workload and delivering products incrementally through iterative development.

If you’re not familiar with it, take a look at the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK). This body of knowledge is a globally recognised standard and was put together by the PMI (Project Management Institute). It encapsulates common practices for project management irrespective of specific methodology.

PMBOK embodies all that we refer to as ‘traditional‘ project management and is a very useful resource. No doubt it includes traditional project management practices that are not at all appropriate if you’re doing agile. But it also includes key aspects of a project that need managing which are simply not addressed by Scrum or eXtreme Programming.

For instance:

Sure, in agile we don’t want to see a big specification up-front. We don’t want to see every task mapped out on a huge gantt chart. We don’t want to see change control as the process for scope management. But we do need the above list of things managed in many agile projects.

So how is this overcome in practice?

In my experience, it is overcome by having a ‘traditional’ Project Manager, who understands project management (such as PMBOK, or the PRINCE2 project management methodology that has become the standard in the UK), who can apply the relevant aspects of the traditional PM approach with the agile practices of Scrum and eXtreme Programming. Effectively augmenting agile with traditional project management methods where appropriate.

Wow! In my view that requires a lot of skill, knowledge, experience and expertise. To understand Scrum, eXtreme Programming and PMBOK, and somehow blend it all together to create a method that encompasses agile management, agile engineering and project management. All the time still retaining the agile mindset and satisfying stakeholders that are used to a more traditional project approach. And without a clear industry reference point to help convey the blended process to all stakeholders and members of the project team.

Is it my imagination, or are we missing something important in the agile community?

Is there anything similar to “PMBOK” for agile? Is there something that blends PMBOK with Scrum and XP, in order to create a comprehensive methodology for managing agile projects. Something described in a way that is easily accessible to all roles in a project, not just those that are experts in the subject?

If there is, I’d really like to hear about it…

Kelly.

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15 Responses to “Agile Project Management Is Not Enough!”

  1. João Bosco says:

    Hi Kelly,

    I saw a talk of Scott Ambler complaining about this too:

    http://www.parleys.com/display/PARLEYS/Evolving+Agile

    There are some resources out there about agile governance and using PMBOK with agile. One author that writes a lot about it is Michele Sliger:

    http://www.stickyminds.com/sitewide.asp?Function=edetail&ObjectType=COL&ObjectId=10365&tth=DYN&tt=siteemail&iDyn=2

    I think she is writing a book on that.

    Congratulations for your blog!

    Joao Bosco

  2. AgileGuru says:

    Thanks for Nice Article. Some Good Agile Project Management topics explained on

    Agile Project Management Questions & Answers

  3. Spoolin440 says:

    YES!!! Finally some other people that get that Agile as it is prescribed has its limitations. I have been preaching this on a daily basis and at times… have been persecuted for it. So kudos for blogging it about it. Has anyone thought about starting a community of interest regarding this topic?

  4. Jay says:

    Great point and something I’d love to see too as I have also struggled to find any good material on the same.

    Another area that I believe to be particularly weak is discussion on how to deliver creative (design lead) technology initiatives in an Agile manner.

    I head up delivery for a large digital agency where we’ve struggled to adopt agile for projects that involve much creative and user experience time at the outset. These teams typically want to think holistically and struggle to think in the same manner as technologists that are able work on different functional areas in each sprint.

  5. Nina says:

    Good news! Michele Sliger’s “The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility” (co-authored by Stacia Broderick) is precisely what you are looking for: Agile Practices mapped to PMBOK guidelines with a dose of CMMI for good measure. This book truly is a polemic prescription for ‘bridging’ traditional & Agile project management. I got my copy last week from Amazon.com. It’s a ‘keeper’/reference I’ll be using for years to come. Check out http://www.sligerconsulting.com/ for more discussion on this topic, and congratulations to Michele and Stacia!

  6. Carolyn says:

    Hi! I too have been trying to persuade some colleagues that Scrum is a great development approach, but there’s more required that Scrum doesn’t cover.

    Rob Thomsett (www.thomsettinternational.com) has come up with an excellent framework that does cover all the bases – he even calls it Agile PM. It focuses on stakeholder engagement, business benefit obsession, clear scoping etc – it feeds into the ‘vision’ input of the Product Backlog.

    In answer to Jay, it doesn’t really cover the creative or design aspect and that’s something I’m keen on pursuing too.

    - Carolyn

  7. Anonymous says:

    We have been using a project management tool for managing our product requirements, called http://www.gatherspace.com.

  8. Anonymous says:

    What is the difference between XP and Scrum?

  9. Project Management says:

    Nice informative post

  10. Isi Paltiel says:

    As per Nina's comment, I have come from a "traditional" PM background based heavily on PMBOK and started PMing agile projects. I have read Michele Sliger's book and still keep it on my desk (well on the floor near my desk, anyway) for reference. It systematically goes through all the PMBOK knowledge areas and discusses how to manage those aspects on agile projects.

  11. Chuck says:

    > What is the difference between XP and Scrum?

    XP is a set of engineering practices for software development, e.g. how you go about making the product.

    Scrum is a framework for managing the work to be done, deciding what work is most important, Selecting a set of things to be done, and keeping the team focused on that work without distraction or changing targets. e.g. what work you will do, tracking your progress, etc.

    The main point of overlap between the two is the idea of a 'user story' which is a way of describing a desired feature. Scrum manages a backlog of stories and how the team works through them. XP uses the stories as the 'spec' for implementing the feature into code and hence bringing it 'alive' in the product.

  12. Kelly Waters says:

    Thanks Chuck, good answer!

    One small point of correction though – Scrum doesn't actually refer to user stories, it refers to "backlog items". User stories are from XP but seem to have been commonly adopted by Scrum teams in place of 'backlog items'. I'm not surprised, user stories are a great way to capture requirements in a lightweight, piecemeal basis. When people talk of doing agile with a Scrum/XP blend, my interpretation of what that means in common practice is using Scrum with User Stories and some automated unit testing where it makes most sense.

    XP on the other hand has a very strong emphasis on engineering quality, and therefore focuses on practices such as test driven development, automation and pair programming.

    Kelly.

  13. Marcos says:

    I think is a misconception about "Agile Project Management" and "Agile Methologies" like scrum or XP.
    XP or Scrum are methodologies for develop a software product. this only cover the product scope.
    Agile project management can be used for building, chemical, mechanical projects, oil, etc, etc…
    Agile Project Manageent cover more than only product scope: project scope!.

  14. Kelly Waters says:

    Fair point, although this blog is about agile software development, so any talk about agile project management is meant in the context of software projects…

    Kelly.

  15. Dan says:

    Meh. Sounds more to me like the rantings of an old school project manager, too scared to let go of the Gantt chart security blanket.

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