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Agile Project Management

Posted on | September 1, 2009 | 6 Comments

Businesses all over continue to struggle implementing the PMBOK or PRINCE as a whole or parts of them claiming that they are too complex, too involved and take from the time it takes to produce the project deliverables. Adaptive Project Framework (APF) comes to the rescue by adapting to the ever changing business environments.

I read and re-read “Effective Project Management – Traditional, Adaptive, Extreme” by Robert K. Wysocki every time I get a chance. It is an excellent book that I always carry with me. This book dedicates a few chapters to APF.

APF is an iterative and adaptive (and I add agile) approach designed to deliver maximum business value to clients within the limits of their time and cost constraints where the always variable scope is adjusted at each iteration. The client decides what constitutes maximum business value and, at the end of each iteration, the client has an opportunity to change the direction of the project based on what was learned from all previous iterations therefore, embracing and managing change, not avoiding it.

Only five phases define APF:

Agile Project Management

Agile Project Management

• Version Scope

– Develop the Conditions Of Satisfaction (COS) to define what is needed and what will be done to meet that need

– Develop the Project Overview Statement (POS) which summarizes the problem/opportunity, what will be done and how, the business value, and risks, assumptions and obstacles to success

– Prioritize functional requirements; this list may change but currently reflects the best information available

– Develop mid-level Work Breakdown Structure showing goal, major functions, and sub-functions

– Prioritize scope triangle (consisting of time, cost, resources, scope, and quality, customer satisfaction was left out)

• Cycle Plan (iterative)

– Extract from the WBS those activities that define the functionality to be built in this cycle

– Decompose the extracted WBS down to the task level

– Establish the dependencies among these tasks

– Partition the tasks into meaningful groups and assign teams to each group

– Each team develops a micro-level schedule with resource allocations for the completion of their tasks within the established cycle timeline and budget constraints

• Cycle Build (iterative)

– Conduct detailed planning for producing the functionality assigned to this cycle

– Begin cycle work

– Monitor and adjust cycle build

– This cycle ends when its time has expired. Any functionality not completed during this cycle is reconsidered as part of the functionality in the next cycle

– Create a Scope Bank to record all change requests and ideas for improvements

– Create an Issues Log to record all problems and track the status of their resolution

• Client Checkpoint (iterative)

– Client and project team perform a quality review of the functionality produced in the just completed cycle against the overall goal of maximum business value, and adjustments are made to the high-level plan and next cycle work if needed

– The sequence Cycle Plan / Cycle Build / Client Checkpoint is repeated until the time and cost budgets for this version have been expended

• Post-Version Review

– Determine if the expected business outcome was realized

– Determine what was learned that can be used to improve the solution

– Determine what was learned that can be used to improve the effectiveness of APF

A very simple framework that, as the book author says, is client-focused, client-driven, shows incremental results early and often, utilizes continuous questioning and introspection, implement changes better and progressively, and strips out all non-value-added work. Everything the business has been looking for!

I am willing to give APF a try. Don’t you think so…? Well, I do.

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6 Responses to “Agile Project Management”

  1. Ray Almonte, PMP.
    September 1st, 2009 @ 3:10 pm

    I've been moving projects toward more agile & iterative processes for a while. I don't see any major impediments to implementing both. I agree with Mike & Dhu with using APM as a subset of PMBOK. Each iteration should be be validated in any event, in order to ensure max value is delivered to the customer as determined by the customer after the effects of previous iterations have been analysed.

  2. Jordi Teixido
    September 2nd, 2009 @ 3:14 am

    Jorge, good document, but I feel this model looks a variation of typical iterative models developed for IT. Am i wrong? I think that in the end it's about common sense, this is all what clients tell me once they attend any training or consulting session; and I also think many people are or in the past have applied agile "avant-la-lettre". All the PMOs I have worked for do "Agile" without naming it like this….

  3. Tim Ehrler, PMP
    September 4th, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

    I agree that incremental development methodologies do have their place and I have employed them myself where appropriate, but would caution that, as tools, they do need to be employed judiciously, as do more formal development methodologies.

    Iterative project methodologies, while agreeably are just additional tools in the toolbox, must be judiciously applied and only where appropriate – I don’t think I would even think to employ such a methodology to develop the replacement vehicle for the space shuttle, for example. Even in the software engineering domain, where an “intangible” deliverable/product can be iteratively developed, you would not necessarily employ such a methodology. Having managed s/w projects between the extremes of formal Waterfall and Agile methodologies, I would not blindly use any specific methodology without first have a complete understanding of the end deliverable within the context of the customer requirements.

    To demonstrate, I have had the ‘pleasure’ of recovering one such development project that was 1-1/2 years into a 6-month schedule (?!) that should have been more formally managed instead of assuming that an iterative approach was sufficient. Customer & stakeholder input was insufficient to have made the methodology decision, and the domain space of the deliverable was such that insufficient architectural decisions necessitated 2-3 complete refactoring cycles in order to enable incremental development to continue as requirements were incrementally obtained & understood.

    In summary, while incremental development methodologies are very useful and can add value to the deliverable development process, one should always first determine beforehand whether such an approach is appropriate to get to that final deliverable.

  4. Cheeka
    September 6th, 2009 @ 1:24 am

    I cant agree more with what is being said about APF. I had seen this being effective in our organization. Unfortunately we deviated from this a bit and rediscovered that this is the model that would work for us. In the competitive world that we are in today it is going to be essential for the business to be dynamic and be able to evolove certain things as the products are being developed. This framework allows for that and i strongly beleive that we are going to see lot of companies adpat these as their standard framework.

  5. project management software
    September 25th, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

    Thank you for this blog post, Im thinking about borrow a small piece of this info for my blog if that’s ok with you; I will be sure to put you as a reference to the source of information though.

  6. Vinzei
    October 10th, 2011 @ 2:12 am

    Hey folks I read your article and I think you’re blog will be one of the bests if you keep up the good work!

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