Project management – what is agile and is it strategic?

While the term “agile” is becoming more widely used in project management – and 61% of AXELOS’ webinar attendees polled claim to use agile principles – does it mean the same thing to everyone involved in projects?

“Agile, for those engaged with it, has certain meanings related to certain behaviours while others see it as a synonym of nimble,” Duncan Wade suggested.

David Hinde agreed: “There are a number of defined modes of agile, e.g. Scrum, but to others it just means flexible. There are lots of fallacies around agile when really it’s a set of values based on collaborating, valuing end products and having an adaptable approach. For me, Scrum and PRINCE2 Agile® are giving us a way of being definitive [about agile].”

“The challenge,” Duncan said is in “starting to understand what agility means: working iteratively, having a customer focus – behaviours that almost anyone working in delivery would buy into whether they are PRINCE2® or Scrum professionals. But the next level is looking at the detail of working practices and frameworks to really get what people are doing differently to before.”

An agile future in project management

AXELOS’ The Future Project Management Professional research has highlighted a greater need for agile in project management. However, our experts recognize the need for something more:

Duncan commented: “I see more and more agile; what was trapped in IT and software development is changing and is a way of working appropriate to many disciplines in an organization. However, I see a future of PRINCE2 professionals working with both waterfall and agile delivery mechanisms; in other words, a mixed delivery using the right tool for the job.”

“The PRINCE2 2017 update,” David said, “will show well how PRINCE2 works in an agile environment. And yet, certain situations don’t suit agile, such as constructing a support system for a rocket. And the problem in agile is scaling – the bigger you get, the less agile you are!

“Also, with a large infrastructure project such as London’s Crossrail, there’s a point where you have to freeze the design. But you can still use agile values of collaboration, responding positively to change, and having less management documentation where it’s unnecessary.”

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