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How Project Management Can Survive in an Agile World

How Project Management Can Survive in an Agile World

By Lisa Hodges on behalf of AXELOS   |   Owner/principal consultant, Cornerstone Service Management

Any discussion of project management demands the question: “How well are we doing?”

In my view, while project managers are putting so much emphasis on the elements of time and cost, we are losing something in scope and quality. This doesn’t apply to all projects or project managers, but it remains a real phenomenon.

But how has this happened?

In the past decade, project managers have been struggling to balance cost, time, scope and quality with focusing on the benefits to the customer. Customer requirements change over the life of a project and many projects are not delivering what the customer needs.

Also, the popularity of agile and Scrum approaches reflects an underlying malaise in project management. The Agile Manifesto itself shows an active hostility to traditional project management – especially in the US – in which the role of the project manager doesn’t exist.

This brings us to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)-based project management. The Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Standard offers a vast body of knowledge to project managers, but lacks the specific guidance to turn knowledge into practical and actionable methods tailored to different situations. This has resulted in failures, and practitioners spending too much time translating the knowledge and not enough time executing and delivering it.

Some organizations have developed their own methods but with a variety of different customized templates, methods, and processes it becomes difficult to collaborate and communicate.

The project management community needs to figure out a mechanism to get the best out of the PMBOK® Guide and make it actionable. And I think PRINCE2® is the solution to the problem of taking PMBOK® Guide knowledge and making it practical. Why do I think that?

  • PRINCE2 is complementary to the PMBOK® Guide by providing what the latter doesn’t: a prescriptive. Having been through the PRINCE2 training, it doesn’t conflict with what I already know from the PMBOK® Guide, is a solution to the problem, and helps my project management.
  • PRINCE2 is not a substitute for the PMBOK® Guide and it can address the agile challenge facing the project management world.
  • Rather than trying to handle traditional and agile projects differently, using different methods, project managers can use a method like PRINCE2 to run traditional projects while using it to wrap around agile projects. If Project Management Professionals (PMPs)® are looking for how they fit into a Scrum world, this is it.

But what’s the payback of investing in another approach for project management professionals and the organizations that hire them?

  • With PRINCE2, an organization’s Project Management Office is able to capitalize on its existing investment in the PMBOK® Guide Global Standard. Many less experienced project managers flounder because they have some project management knowledge, but little experience and no method to apply it. Sitting the PMP requires between 4,500 and 7,500 hours leading and directing projects, so project managers have a tendency not to study the PMBOK® Guide until they have the necessary hours, right before sitting for the exam! As a result, they spend the early part of their careers figuring out project management on their own and learning bad habits.
  • Adopting the same method of applying project management knowledge will heighten efficiency, effectiveness, and help project managers produce more consistent results at every level of experience. For individuals advancing in their careers, an understanding of the PMBOK® Guide and PRINCE2 gives them a practical method to bring knowledge and solutions as soon as they’re hired.

Yes, we know that project managers are under a lot of pressure, already working at more than capacity and with little spare time to examine the value of something new. But this is a solution to project managers’ problems, complementing and improving what they already have, freeing them up to do a better job and to spend more time on projects’ scope, quality and value.

With both PRINCE2 and the PMBOK® Guide, you speak the language of project management across the entire world, regardless of who you’re doing business with.

About the Author

Lisa Hodges is a PRINCE2® Practitioner, PMP®, ITIL Expert™, and CPDE® – Certified Process Design Engineer. She is a process improvement evangelist with 20+ years of experience in project and service management, in technical and managerial roles, working with organizations in higher education, government, manufacturing, financial services, and others.

PMBOK and PMI are marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc. PRINCE2® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited.

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