Agile: Meddling With the Method

Spire Digital
Spire Digital
Feb 2, 2016

Let’s face it, as project managers we know that our projects can go in any which direction at any given time, which is why the agile methodology for software development is ideal. Agile methods allow project managers and their teams to be flexible in the execution of the project, mitigate risks quickly, and adjust for market needs, client’s evolving needs, or unexpected technology limitations.

Agile product management is the project manager’s utopia. The troubles and obstacles of waterfall project plans are a thing of the past. But before you throw out your project charters, cost analysis reports, and other artifacts from the waterfall method and jump on the Kanban wagon, I’d like to explain why agility requires more than the agile method to deliver a successful project.


Agile is:

1. quick and well coordinated in movement; lithe
2. active; lively
3. marked by an ability to think quickly; mentally acute or aware

It is by no mistake that project managers are quick thinking, well coordinated, active, and mentally acute or aware. Project managers may apply agile principles daily in their projects, but ultimately they themselves are agile!


So what does an agile project manager look like?

Agile project managers use tools and techniques from all various methodologies to meet client expectations and ensure successful project delivery.

The agile project manager is most easily identified when mitigating risks. They use various cost analysis tools, requirement-gathering techniques, calculations, and reports to consult the client and team on the best course of action to take and adjust accordingly.


Building Your Tools

When addressing risk in the waterfall method, project managers are required to compose a risk assessment and mitigation plan at the beginning of the project. When moving into the agile project method, the risk assessment and mitigation plan is easily forgotten, but why? Such documents provide value to a project in its entire lifecycle regardless of the methodology being used. This is a prime example of two methods uniting as one for successful delivery.

As Director of Project Management, I recommend the project managers at Spire Digital incorporate documents such as the waterfall risk assessment and mitigation plan to assist them in their agile project management journey. It’s the old saying that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” There is value and potential reduction in waste through proactive preparedness over reactive reconciliation.

The agile project manager is quick thinking and is empowered to take action by whatever means ethically and acceptably necessary using tools and techniques from many methods. Allowing a methodology to define and limit the project manager’s tools and techniques disables project managers from delivering minimally viable projects successfully. And that’s not agile!

Enjoy your journey on the Kanban wagon, and remember to pack ALL your tools with you. You never know the road bumps you may encounter along the way. It’s best to have a toolbox full of tools!

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