What is Agile Project Management?
Since the widespread popularity of Agile took companies worldwide by storm, project management has arrived at a turning point.
Project managers are dealing with the fact that all their years of experience and training are fruitless. The need to adapt has never been stronger, and if they do not move with the times and adopt Agile philosophies, they risk being branded as dinosaurs.
The advent of the new Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) from PMI has shown that PMI recognizes the need to build Agile aspects into the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK). Many companies view project management as either a necessary cost center or an area for saving resource dollars.
Will Agile and Project Management Co-Exist?
The short answer: Yes. The modern project manager must realize that adaptability is the key to survival in any company. The pace at which technology changes is not speedy but frantic. The project manager that adapts to Agile philosophies realizes quickly that they must take the best of PMBOK and Agile and synthesize a workable solution for the company. The Agile project manager realizes that stability and time with no change has become a relic from the distant past. The Agile project manager can take the skills they have learned and transform themselves into a scrum master; a vital tool in making sure they become Agile program/portfolio managers.
The Agile program or portfolio manager plays a fundamental role in making sure multiple scrum teams communicate on the combined deliverables they are producing. The communication of these teams is, however, a worrying aspect. Unless a company fully leverages Scaled Agile they struggle to ensure coordinated vision. The roles described above give new and exciting possibilities for the project manager to explore, and bring a new and refreshed Agile project management discipline to their company.
The True Role of the Agile Project Manager; Was It Always There?
The Agile project manager, at their core, is an agent of change. The Agile project manager is also a mentor; someone who can preach the idea that change is a law of nature, and that the organization must not shy away from it, but embrace it fully. A hallmark of good Agile is the mantra of continuous improvement. The structure and agility of companies today is abysmal, and implementing disciplined continuous improvement takes a good deal of bravery.
The application of good, adaptable and realistic project management practices is a starting point for the Agile project manager.
Most of the time, the deployment of good Agile will require organizational changes. This could be significant, as the Agile transformation process must be ensured to work. These underlying structural changes in companies need to be championed by someone, and this is the Agile project manager. They find themselves in a unique position to advocate, manage, and lead changes. They understand organization and what needs to be done to make them more efficient.
So- Now What?
Project managers must first realize the need for change – they must then adapt and embrace their role as an agent of change. Today’s methodologies are just that - methodologies. Truly successful project managers keep one eye on the environment at present, and another on the future. The new Agile project manager will take any tool at their disposal, and is not a purist. Such an adherence will only serve to doom them. Hopefully, this ability to adapt in Agile and everything we have covered in this article will make project managers realize that they are the masters of their destiny, not a bureaucratic and bloated management.