What We Liked - Part 1
In the book's Preface we noted the observations that:
"[Problem-solving] types of projects have an inherent uncertainty and involve multiple paths, decision points, and iterations before they can be successfully completed. Technical teams know that it is impossible to precisely plan new discoveries far in advance. Consequently, they only use project management for administrative support, if at all. Their resistance to project management is, in fact, often valid. The classical project management technique that they have experienced is cumbersome and not as effective in a fast-paced and uncertain environment. While I don't fully agree with this viewpoint, I see many of the commonly known PM practices and tools are geared towards large and relatively slow-moving projects."
Exactly so! This description aptly describes the software development environment.
The essential features of this environment are that we are dealing with "advanced
technology" and intellectual workers who have to use their creative minds. The obvious
implication is that we do have to use a different management approach. That is the
very reason why we need to recognize different types of project. That is, some classification
scheme along the lines we have suggested in our very first Issacon
where we have identified this sort of project as Project Type 4: Intangible
As Gary says:
"Those of you who have managed projects in a technology environment know that balancing the needs of the project management (PM) process against those of a creative technical team is something of an art. You risk stifling innovation with too much process. With too little process, you risk never getting the project completed. This mismatch occurs when you try to employ classic PM methods in an agile environment."
And he adds:
"Agile PM will provide some new concepts and techniques that I've seen to be effective in dynamic environments and that, hopefully, will help you to advance your project management foundation in these challenging areas."
According to Gary, the unique features of the Agile PM Environment consists of Uncertainty; plus Unique Expertise; plus Speed; where Uncertainty, both internal and external to the project, is the primary factor making the case for agile PM.
Because of this uncertainty, Gary recommends two Agile Strategies:
- Have your project managers take more of an outward-facing perspective from their project, to facilitate the integration of the project and the business
- Focus your project manager's energy on delivering results that solve business needs rather than staying within preset project boundaries
For the "Agile" environment described, this is good advice because, as he says: "In an uncertain environment, the original project boundaries will quickly diverge from business reality."
6. Ibid, pp vii - viii
10. Ibid, p28