Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Enlightened Project Manager

I just finished teaching a 3 day class on agile project management to a group if PMs in Cairo, Egypt. The class was one of the outcomes of an agreement signed between the Egyptian Government and the PMI IT & Telecom SIG last year. I’m approaching 10 years of volunteer service with the SIG.

One of the points we spent a lot of time discussing is when to apply agile. I spent some time talking about the sweet spot for agile…projects that don’t have clear requirements, are not huge, have strong user involvement, and have higher risk. New technology projects are good examples.

The idea of the Enlightened PM is one that knows the right tool to use for the project they have in front of them. While there are some that would disagree, I don’t think agile is the right approach to every project. I still think there’s a place for waterfall. I also know there are projects that will work well using more radical approaches such as Kanban.

One of the discussions revolved around an SAP implementation. Our conclusion was that you could do the initial implementation of SAP using their ASAP methodology (disclosure: I helped SAP develop the project management practices that go with ASAP). However, when you start working on enhancements, you can use agile, or even Kanban to manage those changes.

One of the participants in my class was in the construction industry. While I wouldn’t recommend agile for building a house, it can be used for designing a house.


gatlineducation said...

I have been asked several times in just the past two weeks whether I believe that you can "apply Agile" to every project. This is a very interesting question to me, since I believe that agile is a culture, and not a defined process. To me, this question is much like asking whether you can apply your religious beliefs to every situation in life.
Project Management.

Mr.Venturous Blogger said...

I like it. Positive changes are directly aligned with proper change management. Here I would like share one link where good stuff regarding change management is available.


University said...

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Bob Tarne said...

Gatlineducation - I think some principles of agile can be applied to any project; frequent customer interactions, focus on people instead of process etc. However, some of the specific techniques should be left to the right projects.

Bob Tarne said...

Mr Venturous Blogger - Thanks for the link. I've seen plenty of projects fail because they don't get this right.

Jesse Fewell said...

This is the right philosophy. I'm so weary of the methodology wars, that I'm writing a series of posts on it these days. Namely, which methodology you choose doesn't matter. What matters is how and why you tailor specific elements of that methodology. THAT is what will impact your ability to deliver: http://www.jessefewell.com/2010/01/08/4-simple-steps-for-tailoring-your-methodology/

Jerry MD said...

Project Management