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THE AGILE Project Manager
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To ensure full-fledged agile adoption, project managers must grease the wheels at the top.

BY JESSE FEWELL, CST, PMI-ACP, PMP, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

When agile arrived on the project management scene just over a decade ago, it didn't take off like a bullet train. But over time, agile has continued to gain steam.

In a 2013 survey from agile software provider VersionOne, the number of organizations that plan to implement agile in future projects has increased to 83 percent from 59 percent the year before.

But it's one thing to plan and another to act. According to the survey, 52 percent of organizations report a lack of change in internal culture as the most common barrier to advancing agile adoption. And 41 percent attribute overall resistance to any kind of process change as a major hurdle.

How can project managers build a business case for agile adoption and convince stakeholders to get on board with agile? Start by touting these benefits to the executive suite:

Greater transparency. The first actionable principle of the Manifesto for Agile Software Development is early and frequent delivery. Breaking down a year-long project, for example, into a dozen monthly incremental phases allows practitioners to see actual project results throughout the project life cycle. Such frequent delivery helps team members escalate risks to project leaders sooner than would be possible with traditional project management methodologies. Eighty percent of the organizations surveyed for the VersionOne survey claimed agile helped them reduce risk on projects.

High Performers and Agile Approaches
According to PMI's Pulse of the Profession™ study, high-performing organizations are defined as completing 80 percent or more of their projects on time, on budget and in line with original goals. images Of those organizations, 53 percent use agile project management practices, compared with 24 percent of low-performing organizations. (Low-performing organizations are defined as completing 60 percent or fewer of their projects on time, on budget and in line with original goals.)

More productivity. When teams switched to agile, 85 percent of respondents saw some increase in productivity. In agile, team members work on only one project, finish it quickly and remain together as they start the next project. When team members aren't torn between multiple projects, they don't waste time prioritizing which tasks on which projects are most important.

Better management of shifting priorities. The agile movement emphasizes collaboration as a means to manage change. Project teams using the agile approach actively engage with the sponsor and communicate changes in scope. In the survey, 90 percent of respondents said agile improved their organization's ability to adapt and deliver on changing priorities.

By using fresh, relevant data, you'll move beyond the dogma and make a better case for process change. PM

 

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Jesse Fewell, CST, PMI-ACP, PMP, is a founder of the PMI Agile Community of Practice and is participating in the development of a software extension to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). He can be reached at jesse.fewell@vcleader.pmi.org.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

PM NETWORK JULY 2013 WWW.PMI.ORG

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