Agile Project Management: The Key to Accelerating Business Value

Agile Project Management: The Key to Accelerating Business Value
Author

Bryan Campbell

Last updated May 9, 2018


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Everywhere we look we can see remarkable industry transformations and disruptions. Industries we used to think would always have guaranteed growth, like the automobile industry, are getting ‘up-ended’ by the convergence of software and technology that makes ordering a car as easy as pressing a button on your cell phone.  New technologies are entering the market and reaching critical mass faster than ever as seen by the rapid adoption of 3D printing and drones.  Ideas that seemed distant or even impossible a few years ago like self-driving cars or privately launched rockets are now commonplace.

There’s no end in sight to this rapid innovation as many of these changes are accelerating the development of even more products and services.  So what does this mean for traditional project managers?  The good news is that projects are even more important to companies.  All of these disruptors started as projects and were managed by project managers to deliver the value their companies targeted.  However, it’s clear that as technology and the pace of change increases, it’s just as important for project management techniques to adapt and evolve.  

The Agile Practice Guide

The Project Management Institute recently released its new Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition) and one of its most significant additions is the Agile Practice Guide.  The Agile Practice Guide is the key for project managers to effectively manage the rapid pace of project delivery in the new millennium.  While organizations around the world are rapidly expanding their project management capacity, they are almost all looking for project managers with knowledge and experience in Agile delivery practices.  In fact, a recent VersionOne survey shows that 94% of all companies are practicing some form of Agile.  Even the largest, most conservative projects are looking to Agile practices to deliver business value sooner. 

The Agile Practice Guide acts as a common reference for both project managers pursuing a traditional Project Management Professional (PMP) certification as well as for those looking to the Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) certification.  If you’re not familiar with Agile practices, this guide is a great starting point to upskill yourself for what is soon to be an important aspect of how you deliver projects.  However, even if you are an experienced Agile project manager, the guide provides some great guidance on how to introduce Agile practices within existing enterprise project management governance frameworks.

While the concepts behind Agility are easy to understand, effectively applying them can be challenging in more established enterprise organizations.  The Agile Practice Guide starts with establishing the Agile Mindset and describes the Agile Values and Principles that all Agile practices support.  This is fundamental for project managers to grasp so they can progress from “Doing Agile”, following different Agile practices like having daily stand-ups or breaking work into iterations, to “Being Agile” really achieving the purpose of Agile which is accelerating the delivery of business value.

The Practice Guide also provides guidance on how to select the best Agile lifecycle for a project.  There are many ways to apply Agile practices to a project and the PMI has developed an innovative collection of hybrid approaches that blend traditional and Agile techniques.  The primary drivers in selecting an Agile lifecycle are based on the degree of technical and requirements uncertainty.  The higher the uncertainty, the stronger the fit for Agile’s short feedback loops, frequent delivery and the ability to dynamically re-prioritize scope.

After a project manager has identified an appropriate Agile lifecycle, the Practice Guide provides guidance on how to effectively enable Agile project practices.  This includes not only creating an Agile environment for Agile practice success but also techniques on how to deliver in an Agile environment.  However, one of the most practical areas of the Practice Guide involves assessing the organizational capacity for project agility.  This includes understanding the ability of the PMO, Procurement, Legal and other organizational units to support Agile practices.  It’s not uncommon for teams to start applying Agile practices, only to find that their bottlenecks are in other parts of the organization.  Delivering a working solution in three months doesn’t help much if the Legal Department’s export compliance review takes four months.  Assessing organization readiness for Agile also extends to the business which often has its own challenges in managing the availability of subject matter experts to support Agile project delivery.

The PMI Agile Practice Guide is a valuable tool for project managers who are either working with or planning to work with Agile practices.  The guide is also one of the reference documents for the PMI-ACP and includes a helpful mapping between Agile values and principles and the PMBOK Process Groups and Knowledge Areas.  Applying agile practices on your projects isn’t a question of “if", but rather a question of “when”.  Project managers, the world over, need to get ready for the next wave of project management agility and start learning and applying Agile techniques to accelerate the business value of their companies.

Simplilearn Is Here to Help

It’s time to take your project management knowledge to the next level and invest in taking Agile project management training.  Simplilearn is a leader in the project management training field and has a wide range of Agile project management and related courses to help you expand your career.  Visit our Simplilearn website and review the Agile course catalog to find the offering that best fits your needs.  With a world class Learning Management System, expert instructors and a 24/7 customer support team, you can be confident that Simplilearn is ready to help you move to the next level of success! 

Stay tuned for a webinar that will be hosted shortly to look at the guide in more detail.  

In the meantime, remember the phrase “Don’t Worry, Be Agile!”.

PMBOK is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Find our PMI-ACP® Certification Online Classroom training classes in top cities:

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About the Author

Simplilearn provides a structured and thorough education curriculum that provides enough flexibility to instructors like myself to make the content engaging and valuable.


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