The quick-to-market digital environment of today means organizations have to find a way to incorporate agile working in what they do.
Take-up of agile remains a mixed bag and we should acknowledge that agile isn’t for everyone or everything. However, where the feeling towards agile is predominantly negative, it’s likely that people are doing it in the wrong place or just badly.
Many commentators, in the attempt to be influential on the topic, are saying agile is bad at this or that; yet, they are shooting themselves in the foot, showing ignorance of agile and being fixated on agile’s shortcomings.
In my recent LinkedIn post about current attitudes to agile, I suggested that if people are (figuratively) “eating soup with a fork and struggling”; then please don’t blame the “fork” but blame the person holding it. I recommend those involved in projects to opt for using the right approach – a waterfall method is better than agile done badly
To be clear, agile is an ethos and if used properly, in the right place and at the right time, you should see benefits.
Attaining the agile difference
Remember, agile is not that easy; you often have to do counter-intuitive things such as telling your customer that you won’t be able to deliver everything they’ve asked for. Prioritization means delivering something done well and on time. Is the 5 or 10% you leave out, really so important – or would the customer rather we missed the deadline?
So what is going to drive the next phase of agile being used by programme and project professionals?
First, we need to take a sensible, sober look at what agile can do because it’s necessary to embrace it; there’s no choice because your competitors will be doing that.
I say it’s about being responsive. Whether you are a bank, a marketing company or working in the public sector you need to get responsive. That means embracing agile and lean thinking in a sophisticated, intelligent way.
Agile and project management
Project managers might well be ready to embrace agile though they’re faced with many conflicting messages:
Agile advocates claim – simplistically – that we don’t need projects or project managers anymore. Project managers should not be worried by this. They should adjust their skills to support agile project management. When doing this they will realize that 80% of the job is the same.
I’d like the project management community to realize that PRINCE2® is totally relevant today and perhaps more relevant than ever. With Agile in the mix, you need more control rather than less; people sponsoring projects worth £1m-plus want to know everything is OK! This is because I’ve seen million pound overruns in the name of agile where the mistaken thinking was to ease up on controls in order to get results quicker.
And at programme level you could say the two-to-four-week cycle of agile doesn’t make sense when a programme might last two years. So, programme professionals need reassuring that their job might be changing but not disappearing. It’s more about an adjustment.
Agile – where next?
In my view, 2018 is not necessarily a watershed moment for agile. That said, it is growing at a steady rate and has now reached critical mass. There is also some congestion appearing in the wider choice of agile approaches for organizations.
Therefore, organizations need to be looking at the credibility and safety of the choices they make. And that means that your people should be taking credible exams as part of the certification process with pass rates that are realistic and that reflect the certification’s rigour and value.
If you can build on the existing project management and delivery approaches in your organization – those that you’ve invested in and honed over time – you are maintaining a lexicon you already know while using agile to achieve the responsiveness you will need to compete in the years ahead.
More AXELOS Blogs from Keith Richards
How do you measure agile success?
PRINCE2 Agile - why so many myths?
The genesis of PRINCE2 Agile – a work of agile collaboration
PRINCE2® Agile: Creating Best Practice that even an "Agilista" can live with!