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Agile Methods and the Need for Speed

COMMENTARY

By Kevin Aguanno, PMP, MAPM, IPMA-B, Cert.APM, CSM, CSP

Canada
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When asking people why they want to use agile delivery methods, one of the most common reasons I hear is that they want to “deliver faster.”  It seems that there is a widespread frustration with the way administrative bureaucracy, inefficient development processes, and overburdening governance processes impede project performance.  In many cases, an apparently simple, short development project cannot be delivered quickly because of the process and governance overheads that stretch the project out across the calendar and act as a multiplier on the estimated project budget.

Of course project sponsors are frustrated with this situation – I’d be frustrated too.  If there is needless red tape slowing down a project, that is an evil that should be rooted out and eradicated within our organizations.  The problem, however, is that agile methods are not about delivering faster; rather, their benefits are in other areas:

  • Lower Risk of Building the Wrong Thing — With frequent demonstrations of the evolving solution, the project sponsor and other stakeholders can see where the project is headed and they can redirect the project team’s efforts if there has been a misunderstanding of requirements.  Additionally, this redirection can include the addition of new requirements or changes to existing requirements to ensure the project is delivering optimum value.  It is important to note that the business stakeholders’ understanding of what they asked for evolves over the course of the project, bringing new insights and new requests.
  • Rapid Reduction in Technical Risk — Through careful prioritization, the project team can quickly eliminate technical risk in the project by validating the solution design in early iterations. If an assumption proves wrong, or if the solution design does not work, then there will be minimal rework required (and possibly plenty of time remaining on the schedule) to correct the issue. Once the major technical issues have been resolved, the remainder of the project should proceed without further major interruptions.

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About the Author

Kevin Aguanno

Kevin Aguanno is a principal consultant with GenXus Management Consulting, a specialist in project and programme management strategy consulting with deep expertise in agile delivery frameworks.  Author of over 20 books, audiobooks, and DVDs on agile topics, Aguanno teaches agile methods at several universities and at conferences around the world. Find out more at http://www.mmpubs.com/catalog/Aguanno–Kevin-i-7.html.

Managing Agile Projects, edited by Kevin Aguanno, published in January 2012 by Multi-Media Publications; ISBN: 9781895186116; soft cover, 420 pages – Info about the book at http://www.mmpubs.com/catalog/managing-agile-projects-book-p-1.html.