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Agile Project Management

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For agile project management, agile development methodologies, such as Scrum and eXtreme Programming, alone are not enough.

Scrum is excellent for managing a project team's workload and delivering products incrementally through iterative development.

eXtreme Programming (XP) is excellent for agile engineering practices that improve product quality, and User Stories from XP are an excellent way to simplify the understanding and management of requirements on a piecemeal basis.

If you're not familiar with it, take a look at the Project Management Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK). This body of knowledge is a globally recognised standard and was put together by the PMI (Project Management Institute). It encapsulates common practices for project management irrespective of specific methodology.

Although PMBOK really embodies all we 'agilists' refer to as traditional project management, it is a very useful resource. No doubt it includes traditional project management practices that are not appropriate if you are doing agile. But it also includes key aspects of a project that need managing which are simply not addressed by Scrum or eXtreme Programming.

For instance:

  • Project Initiation
  • Cost Management
  • Human Resources Management (hate that term, but important nevertheless!)
  • Communications Management
  • Risk Management
  • Procurement Management
  • Stakeholder Management
  • Organisational factors

Sure, in agile we don't want to see a big specification up-front. We don't want to see every task mapped out on a huge gantt chart. We don't want to see change control as the process for scope management. But we do need the above list of things managed in many agile projects.

So how is this overcome in practice? In my experience, it is overcome by having a 'traditional' Project Manager, who understands project management (such as PMBOK, or the PRINCE2 project management methodology that has become the standard in the UK), who can apply the relevant aspects of the traditional PM approach with the agile practices of Scrum and eXtreme Programming. Effectively augmenting agile with traditional project management methods where appropriate.

Wow! In my view that requires a lot of skill, knowledge, experience and expertise. To understand Scrum, eXtreme Programming and PMBOK, and somehow blend it all together to create a method that encompasses agile management, agile engineering and project management. All the time still retaining the agile mindset and satisfying stakeholders that are used to a more traditional project approach. And without a clear industry reference point to help convey the blended process to all stakeholders and members of the project team.

Is it my imagination, or are we missing something important in the agile community?

Is there anything similar to "PMBOK'' for agile? Is there something that blends PMBOK with Scrum and XP, in order to create a comprehensive methodology for managing agile projects. Something described in a way that is easily accessible to all roles in a project, not just those that are experts in the subject? If there is, I'd really like to hear about it...

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Published at DZone with permission of Kelly Waters, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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