PM ChangeAgent Commentary by Stacy Goff.
We’ve written before about the intelligent application of Agile methods in Information Technology (IT) projects: See part 3 of our 4-part 2011 series, The First 10% of a Project: 90% of Success, here in our ChangeAgents articles. This article is a follow up with more insights. And, much has happened since our earlier article.
Agile is now maturing, and moving beyond the last-half-of-the-IT-life-cycle. For example, we have seen excellent discussions on the “hybrid” approach. This involves using Agile where it is most appropriate (and where the prerequisites are in place), and using other insightful pm methods where they are more appropriate. That approach in IT, plus increasing use of Agile concepts in areas such as New Product Development, shows promise.
I do still have concerns about a few of the agile zealots who insist upon contrasting Agile to Waterfall. Competent PMs moved away from “pure” Waterfall in the early 1980s. We also disposed, for the most part, of years-long, hold-your-breath-and-wait-forever IT projects. And, we eliminated the reams of never-used unneeded documentation–retaining only the useful stuff. What did we replace these 1960s-era artifacts with? Three-to-six-month, intensive bursts (we called them iterations, or increments) that delivered prioritized useful business functions.
Prerequisites for Success
Of course, in addition to speeding useful delivery, we also identified and implemented other key prerequisites for project and business success:
- A good, high-level project plan;
- A clear business case;
- Understanding of the information needs and data structures;
- Customer-driven high-level business requirements;
- Risk assessment, and mitigation responsibilities;
- The right talent assigned, the right amount of time; both on the IT side, and from customers;
- Facilitated sessions (Rapid Initial Planning and Joint Application Design) for fast project planning, and requirements elicitation in 1-2 weeks;
- And, all the other factors mentioned in part 3 of our Success series, mentioned above.