How project managers can survive in an agile world

Lisa Hodges

Cornerstone Service Management

Ohio, USA


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

I’d like to say that project managers are doing a good job in delivering projects on time and within budget along with all the scope and quality the customer expects. However, the reality is different: with so much emphasis on the elements of time and cost, we are losing something in scope and quality. No, it doesn’t affect all projects or project managers in the US, but it remains a real and unfortunate phenomenon.

How has this happened?

In the past decade, project managers have been struggling to balance cost, time, scope and quality without enough capacity to focus on the benefits to the customer. More than ever before, customer requirements are changing over the life of a project and what many projects deliver today isn’t what the customer needs; this disconnect is a huge issue in project management.

Also, the increasing popularity of agile and Scrum approaches in delivering what customers want is a symptom of an underlying malaise in project management. In fact, 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. Some see agile as the solution to delivering more successful projects.

Which brings us to PMBOK-based project management; clearly, this offers a vast body of knowledge to project managers, but without the specific guidance to distil the 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.

When trying to introduce the PMBOK to organizations and people, I’ve often been told: “Stop! I don’t want to go there.” Instead, they’ve developed their own methods. But in creating a variety of different, customized templates, methods and processes it becomes difficult to collaborate and communicate. And then there are organizations that have made a huge investment in the PMBOK but are reluctant to say out loud there’s a problem; obviously, Project Management Professionals (PMPs) don’t want organizations to lose confidence in their ability to do their jobs!


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About the Author

Lisa Hodges

Ohio, USA




Lisa Hodges is a PRINCE2® Practitioner, PMP®, ITIL Expert™, and CPDE® – Certified Process Design Engineer. Lisa is uniquely qualified with 20+ years practical experience in project and service management; applying principles of ITIL, Agile, Scrum, DevOps, PMI’s PMBOK, and PRINCE2.

Lisa is an entrepreneur, owner and principal consultant of Cincinnati-based Cornerstone Service Management. Cornerstone delivers consulting, accredited certification training, and workshops to organizations seeking to achieve competitive advantage through superior service delivery.

Lisa gives back to the industry and is actively involved in professional organizations including PMI – Project Management Institute, and itSMF USA, where she is a regular speaker at local and national events and holds numerous leadership roles.

Lisa Hodges can be contacted at [email protected]