Leverage project management to maximize the value of agile

There is little doubt that organizations are embracing the agile way of working , in a big way. What is also clear is that organizations fail to fully realize the value of agile. The primary reason for this failure to maximize the value of agile, is the overlooking of the role of project management to manage the transition from the current way of working to the agile way of working.

Agile methods such as Scrum, XP and others have focused on technical product delivery and ensuring the product being built and delivered is aligned to the most current product requirements. However none of these methods offer explicit guidance on how project management gets integrated into an agile product delivery. It is incorrectly assumed that project management is no longer required, as the scrum method suggests, with the role of the project manager expected to be performed by the scrum master. Even when there is an organizational acknowledgment that a distinct project management function needs to be performed, there isn’t a deliberate process for integrating the disciplines of project management and product delivery.

As a consequence organizations lose out on realizing the full value of agile. This is a shame and can be fixed.

First, by acknowledging that as organizations move from waterfall delivery models to agile delivery models, the normally distinct boundaries between the disciplines of project management, product delivery and business analysis have not only blurred but begin to overlap.  Next, organizations while acknowledging the erosion of  distinct boundaries between these three disciplines, need to conceptually treat them as separate disciplines. This has to be done to ensure the roles performed by each of the three disciplines are understood well and performed well.

  1. The role of project management is to ensure all the work of the project is done the right way ( within time, cost and other constraints) so that the project’s business case is realized and the organization is positioned to achieve the desired business results.
  2. The role of product delivery is to ensure right products are built based on the most current requirements.
  3. The role of business analysis is to two-fold : Articulate the product requirements so that the right product is built; and document the business requirments in the business case so that the project can deliver against it.

Project management is the over arching discipline that ties together business and product requirement with product delivery. So, use it effectively to maximize the value of the agile way of working.

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