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Liverpool Business School Agile Project Management

CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................3
2. AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT............................................................................3
2.1. OVERVIEW OF TRADITIONAL VS. AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT..4
2.2. AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK........................................5
2.2.1. Guiding Vision...................................................................................................5
2.2.2. Organic (small and dynamic) teams................................................................6
2.2.3. Light touch management style.........................................................................6
2.2.4. Simple Rules.......................................................................................................6
2.2.5. Free and open information...............................................................................6
2.2.6. Adaptive leadership...........................................................................................7
3. BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT..........7
4. AGILE CONTROL IN APPLICATION LEVEL.........................................................8
5. CONCLUSION.................................................................................................................8
6. REFERENCE...................................................................................................................9
7. APPENDIX.....................................................................................................................11

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1. INTRODUCTION

A project is defined as a “unique set of co-ordinated activities, with definite starting


and finishing points, undertaken by an individual or an organisation to meet specific
objectives within defined time, cost and quality objectives” (APM, 2000). A project consist
of different tasks such as setting objectives, establishing plans, organising resources, staffing,
controlling, issuing directives, motivating and so on. Most projects are unique and one of a
kind activities and thus makes it challenging to have a standard forward planning. Kerzner
(2003) defines project management as the “process of achieving project objectives through
the traditional organisational structure and over the specialities of the individual concerned”.
It is characterised by methods of streamlining management and adapting particular
management techniques, with the purpose of obtaining improved control and use of existing
resources (ibid). It is valid to any unique project working towards a specific end objective. A
traditional approach to project management is shown in Appendix 1.

The project management environment is extremely turbulent, and is composed of


numerous meetings, report writing, conflict resolution, continuous planning and re-planning,
communications with customers and crisis management (Kerzner, 2003). The traditional
structure of project management is under constant pressure because of the rapid rate of
change in both technology and in market place. A highly bureaucratic structure and slow
response rate to the rapidly changing environment calls for improved and innovative
methods in project management. Lean and Agile project management are the results of
these immense pressures on the conventional project management. Lean management is a
response to competitive pressures with limited sources while agile management is a
response to complexity brought about by constant change (Sanchez, 2001).

2. AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Agile Project Management (APM) is derived with the modern business perspectives
and it considers speed and dexterity as the key pillars for embracing continuous change in
an effective and efficient way (van Assen, 2000). According to Spearman & Hopp (1996),
agility could be viewed as the ability to reconfiguring a management system swiftly so as to
have a proficient adaption of new products as they are introduced. APM provides
mechanisms to transform quickly to changing markets, to produce high quality products and
services and to offer superior customer service, in the most appropriate way. This shows the
significance of workforce in APM and in other words, agile management is principally
dependent on the capabilities and competencies of its people, to learn and evolve with
change (Spearman, 1996). In this perspective, a company can attain competitive advantage

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by focusing on its inimitable and valuable human resource; and thriving on the
competencies, capabilities, knowledge, culture and skills (Barney, 1991).

Agile project management principles and practises are driven by the theory of
Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS). By implementing CAS principles, APM will be able to
correct traditional project management assumptions and practises about change, control,
order, organisations, people and overall problem solving approach (Elliot, 2008). Some of
the recent APM methodologies are eXtreme Programming (XP), SCRUM, Crystal, and
Adaptive Software Development and these all are concentrating on rapid interactive delivery,
flexibility and working code.

2.1. OVERVIEW OF TRADITIONAL VS. AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Traditional project management is carried out in a very disciplined, planned and


controlled manner (Hass, 2007). With this approach distinct project life cycle segments are
easily recognisable and there will be a logical sequence for carrying out tasks. A significant
part of the project should be well planned in advance so as to complete the tasks in an
orderly sequence. Thus, the traditional techniques advise to follow a developmental path that
moves in an orderly fashion, from laying foundations through implementing middle layers
and finally on to feature integration (Karlesky, 2008). A waterfall project life cycle as
illustrated in Appendix 2 can be regarded as a traditional project management approach. A
phase is not revisited once it is completed. Traditional project management assumes that the
events affecting the project are predictable and that tools and activities are well understood.
The limitations of adopting this method are that projects seldom follow the sequential flow,
and clients usually find it difficult to completely state all requirements early in the project
(Hass, 2007).

Agility refers to reacting quickly and delicately to changing markets and customer
needs to produce high quality products and reduce lead time (Stalk, 1988). According to
Richards (1996), agility is a factor which enables enterprises to thrive in an environment of
continuous and unanticipated change. In Agile Project Management, developers and project
stakeholders work collectively to understand the domain, identify what needs to be built, and
prioritise functionality and thus forms a highly iterative and incremental process (Hass,
2007). APM could be considered as an overall strategy focused on thriving in an
unpredictable environment. A model of agile development is shown in Appendix 3. Thus,
Agile Project Management is managing a project in such a way as to produce deliverables in
fairly short phases of time. The delivery time in this is typically 2-4 weeks rather than many
months or even years.

Traditional project management is a linear approach that involves a detailed planning


before the project starts. Even though APM can use many of the traditional project
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management techniques with enhanced modification and stronger leadership (Augustine et


al., 2005), Hass (2007) argues that APM provides much better flexibility and collaboration
with enough planning as process increments with building on, gathering inputs and learning
from customer feedbacks. The traditional approach (waterfall approach) tries not to change
the scope whereas agile management expects and welcome change in scope and focus on
delivering value and achieving business objectives quickly. An illustration of this is done
in Appendix 4. So, in APM the emphasis is moved from planning to execution (Chin, 2004).

A transition from traditional to agile project management should take into account of
(Augustine, 2006):-

 The point of interest is moving away from plans and artefacts towards customer
satisfaction and relations.
 Creation of an integrated core project team and an integrated peripheral project team
instead of traditional silos.
 Concentration should be on the context of the project rather than the content.
 Encouraging continuous improvement by focusing on reflections and by analysing,
adapting and improving processes and practises.
 Managing the flow of value, not activities.
 Corrective action is replaced by adaptive action as a means to response to change.
 Collaborative planning is prioritised than up-front planning.
 Customer prioritised time based delivery instead of manager negotiated scope based
delivery.
 Use of essential value focused metrics instead of traditional project metrics based on
time, cost and quality.

1.1. AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK

The CAS-based agile project management framework aims to achieve its objectives
within the schedule (time, cost and quality), while satisfying the customers. The key
principles of APM includes focus on customer value, iterative and incremental delivery,
intense collaborations of various functionalities, small integrated teams, self organisation and
small but continuous improvement. The agile project manager needs to understand the
importance of mutual interactions and its effects among various parts of the project and
needs to steer them in the direction of continuous learning and adaptation (Augustine et al.,
2005). The APM framework prescribes the six practises for managing agile projects and they
are listed below:-

1.1.1. Guiding Vision

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This helps foresee and familiarize the changing conditions. The objective
of guiding vision is to translate project vision into simple statements so as to
make a mental model of project aims. Then this will be communicated to all
team members to create a shared vision so as to identify and nurture this and
transform it into a powerful influence in team behaviour (Elliot, 2008). The team
will be guided by defining, disseminating, and sustaining that shared vision. So,
guiding vision could be seen as the aggregate of three component visions: team
vision, project vision and product vision. Augustine et al. (2005) describes that
this guiding vision will make even the lower level individual capable of carrying
out the responsibilities in the absence of his senior executives.

1.1.2. Organic (small and dynamic) teams


Based on the organic CAS model, a self organising agile project team
will be structured and formed. An effective integration of the team into a larger
enterprise by facilitating collaboration and teamwork is also a part of this. It also
aims to encourage diversified roles so that the team members can develop into
generalising specialists who actively seeks to gain new skills in existing
specialities. By allowing the team members to join or leave the team, it supports
dynamic team composition and adaptability to changing external conditions
(Augustine et al., 2005). The team maintains most favourable internal channels
of communication and coordination while trying to negate the effect of
interaction penalty. Moreover, by a parallel working of several smaller and
organic sub teams could deliver the results of a larger team.

1.1.3. Light touch management style


The traditional approach of control (by viewing through the prism of
control) fails to accommodate the dynamic processes and faces the challenge to
reflect according to the changing environment. Light touch comprises of an
effective control of team members using a delicate mix of forced and emergent
orders (Elliot, 2008). It aims to manage the team by focusing on customer value
and allowing team autonomy and flexibility. Its strengths lie in establishing a
decentralised control that suspends the reoccurring of decision making, viewing
team members as individuals and treating them accordingly, focusing on
strengths rather than weaknesses and thus leveraging people’s uniqueness (ibid.)

1.1.4. Simple Rules


The objective of simple rules is to employ a set of straightforward,
flexible methodology rules that allow agile teams to deliver business value
quickly and consistently, and establish and support the teams set of guiding

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practises and behaviour (Elliot, 2008). CAS supports following this simple rules
which are acknowledged by the team members so that the team can regulate or
add new practises as needed. Moreover, the practises that aren’t being followed
are identified and the obstacles are removed in course of time.

1.1.5. Free and open information


In APM world, there is a free flow of information and the team benefits
from the power of knowledge regardless of the source. The candidness in
information exchange is an important aspect in the degree of interaction between
the team members (Augustine et al., 2005). Information transfer between other
associated external groups is also encouraged by the practise of free and open
information. This information exchange among the team members is considered
as an important commitment in front of the team.

1.1.6. Adaptive leadership


The objective of adaptive leadership is to track and observe the project
for timely and relevant feedback and apply organized measures for learning and
adapting (Elliot, 2008). It is a real challenge to lead a team by promoting small
organic groups, establishing a guiding vision and simple rules, campaigning open
information exchange and managing with a light touch. The agile manager
should recognize the effects of the mutual relations among a project’s diverse
parts and manoeuvres them in the course of continuous learning and adaptation
(Augustine, et al., 2005).

2. BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT


Even though agile methods may not fit for every project, they do provide valuable
benefits in the context of some specific business problems. Apart from all the benefits
analysed in this report, there are three main benefits from agile techniques and they are
(Aguanno, 2005):-
 Reducing Risk
Improved control and improved communication are the key drivers which
reduce risk in agile project management.
 Improving Control
A less rigid, structured control gives the manager the power of better control
of the project in situations of high levels of change. This will make the manager to
better respond and adapt to changing requirements.
 Improving Communication

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Communication, being a key to any project, is better fostered in APM rather


than in traditional project management methods.

The small, stand-alone agile projects are less troublesome and more in harmony with
the industry’s growing requirements for rapid expansion and dealing with continuous
change. However Boehm & Turner (2005), identifies three critical challenges for software
managers in adapting agile approach in large organisations:-

 Development Process Conflict


This arises when an integration of agile, lightweight method with the
conventional industrial method is required without compromise on the key aspects of
each approach. Traditional methods concentrate on optimising development over a
longer phase of time, while APM focuses on immediately delivering functionality
(working with different life cycles) (Elliot, 2008). Overseeing diversity in teams and
subsystems is also proven to be a challenge. Moreover, accommodating agile
practises in legacy systems also raises several questions. Being primarily functional
and reasonably informal make APM vulnerable to work in all systems engineering
verification and validation approach (Boehm, 2005).

 Business Process Conflict


The level of uncertainty and ambiguity in an agile approach is comparatively
high. Corporate world will favour a near-perfect prediction rather than difficult-to-
estimate task. Another argument against APM is that it don’t support the necessary
documentation and infrastructure required for meeting the criteria for CMMI, ISO or
other process standards, and this adversely affect the image of the organisation.

 People Conflict
People issues could be the most critical in improving the processes.
Collocation and conveying and moulding them to the multi tasking model will be a
challenge to project managers. Moreover, APM needs onsite clients, significant
customer interaction and feedback, and customer contribution for acceptance testing
(Boehm, 2005).

1. AGILE CONTROL IN APPLICATION LEVEL


For a reactive JIT system, an agile system proved to react to an unstable change in
demand and satisfy the required levels (Takahashi, 2000), by interlinking and coordinating
tasks. The likes of Prince2 and PMI’s PMBOK give an engineering perspective to the
software activities. Agile systems can prove themselves to be effective in the field of IT

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systems by emphasizing on rapid and flexible adaptation to changes in process, product and
developmental environment (Alleman, 2002). Power et al. (2001) argues that embracing
agile management strengthens the supply chain management by promoting productivity,
new product development and customer satisfaction. The pre-design and design aspects in
construction phases could be made simpler by using APM techniques (Owen et al., 2006).
Similarly with its standing out features and characteristics agile project management has
made a secured place for itself in the corporate world mangers and is building on that.

2. CONCLUSION

This report analyses agile project management and its characteristics. Also a
comparison with the traditional project management is carried out. However being simple
and elegant in its form, APM is a costly process. Moreover, APM demands a team with
multi-skilled, self-organised, and self-disciplined employees who can function with some
degree of independence from the rest of the organisation and a project manager who can
effectively lead the group.

3. REFERENCE

Aguanno, K. (2005). Managing Agile Projects. Multi-Media Publications Inc.

Alleman, G. (2002). Agile Project Management Methods for IT Projects. In E. Carayannis, &
Y. Kwak, The Story of Managing Projects: A Global Cross-Disciplinary Collection of
Perspectives (pp. 1-22). Greenwood Press/Quorum Books.

APM. (2000). Definitions. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from APM:


http://www.apm.org.uk

Augustine, S. (2006). Managing Agile Projects. Prentice Hall.

Augustine, S., Payne, B., Sencindiver, F., & Woodcock, S. (2005). Agile Project
Management: Steering from the Edges. Communications of the ACM , 48 (12), 85-89.

Barney, J. (1991). Firm Resources and Sustained Competitive Advantage. Journal of


Management , 17 (1), 99-120.

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Boehm, B., & Turner, R. (2005). Management Challenges to Implementing Agile Processes
in Traditional Development Organizations. IEEE Software , 30-39.

Chin, G. (2004). Agile Project Management. New York: AMACOM.

Elliot, S. (2008). Agile Project Management. University of Helsinki.

Hass, K. (2007). The Blending of Traditional and Agile Project Management. PM World
Today , 9 (5), 1-8.

Karlesky, M., & Vander Voord, M. (2008). Agile Project Management. Embedded Systems
Conference, (pp. 247-267). Boston.

Kerzner, H. (2003). Project Management (8th ed.). Ohio: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Olson, D. (2009, May 3). Dale Olson Consulting. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from
http://www.daleolsonconsulting.com/

Owen, R., Koskela, L., Henrich, G., & Codinhoto, R. (July 2006). Is Agile Project
Management Applicable to Construction. Proceedings IGLC 14 (pp. 51-66). Santiago:
Salford Center for Research and Innovation.

Power, D., Sohal, A., & Rahman, S. (2001). Critical Success Factors in Agile Supply Chain
Management. International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics , 31 (4), 247-265.

Richards, C. (1996). Agile Manufacturing: Beyond Lean? Production and Inventory


Management Journal , 37 (2), 60-64.

Sanchez, L., & Nagi, R. (2001). A Review of Agile Manufacturing Systems. International
Journal of Production Research , 39 (16), 3561-3600.

Spearman, M., & Hopp, W. (1996). Factory Physics: Foundations of Manufacturing


Management. Irwin,Chicago,IL.

Stalk, G. (1988). Time: the next source of competitive advantage. Harvard Business Review ,
41-51.

Takahashi, K., & Nakamura, N. (2000). Agile Control in JIT Ordering Systems.
International Journal of Agile Management Systems , 242-252.

van Assen, M. (2000). Agile-based Competence Management: the Relation Between Agile
Manufacturing and Time-based Competence Management. International Journal of Agile
Management Systems , 2 (2), 142-155.

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4. APPENDIX

Appendix 1

Traditional Approach to the Project Management

Time/Schedule

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Cost/Budget Quality/Specification/Performance

Appendix 2

A waterfall project lifecycle model

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Adapted from (Hass, 2007)

Appendix 3

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Agile Project Management

Adapted from (Hass, 2007)

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Appendix 4

Waterfall vs. Agile project management

Adapted from (Olson, 2009)

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