Agile project management in an agile world

How to move at the speed of today’s software development with Agile to deliver products that meet market demand and satisfy user experience.

Traditional project management office (PMO) governance can be challenging for any organization in the current fast-paced business environment. The complex rigor and structure that many organizations put in place several years ago is sometimes now seen as an impediment to the rate and pace of business. Some even suggest that it may no longer be applicable depending on the organization, the industry and the business transformation agenda.

In this era where business is powered by software, to deliver on accelerating business demands, a rapidly growing number of organizations are embracing agile development. Being agile, or nimble, allows IT to adjust to their delivery to produce high-value products that can continually evolve based on the changing business dynamics.

Addressing the challenges

A challenge for any organization is to fully utilize the benefits of agile and additionally to ensure that delivery efforts advance the company’s product innovation strategies and continue to align with business strategy. agile, as well as traditional (waterfall) methodologies, require the prioritization within the pipeline to ensure that resources are being tactically deployed on the right business initiatives, for the right reasons.

For instance, traditional PMO challenges include:

  • Deciding which programs and projects to select (when evaluating multiple initiatives that are competing for the same resources)
  • Balancing the wall of work to reflect a good balance across the portfolio to ensure that resources are not overcommitted
  • Optimizing the portfolio of projects short-term versus long-term, high-risk versus low-risk
  • The inability to transition should the business strategy change due to market or business dynamics

These remain critical in an agile world. And without effective oversight, organizations may indeed see outcomes that are simply no better than traditional waterfall projects.

Whether using agile or waterfall, or more likely a combination of the two, the PMO must balance the work based on a portfolio approach that ensures that the business outcome is the focal point, not the PMO processes.

Avoiding the pitfalls of agile

One of the traps of agile I see all too often is the agile team getting caught up in the development, constantly and continually iterating based on the user stories and backlog, transitioning with the business to the business outcome. Some teams become so caught up in the product that they lose the business relevance of the product and without appropriate governance, spending can unfortunately spiral out of control.

What is required is a fully integrated, extensible project, portfolio, and program management solution that enables the PMO to fully address the project, program and portfolio management challenges while enabling developers and project managers to effectively work in a truly agile manner.

To solve this problem, CA Technologies recently announced that CA PPM (formerly CA Clarity™ PPM) has been integrated with a best-in-class agile tool from VersionOne. The outcome allows the PMO and Agile development organizations to work together to deliver strategic results at the speed of innovation.

The real challenge here is for enterprises to determine the allocation of business-enabled change into that which is appropriate for waterfall or agile, and the secret is the aggregation of the work at a governance level to assure executives that IT is working on the right things, with the right priorities to ensure business success.

Image credit: Andy Wilson 

Robert Stroud is VP of innovation and strategy for IT Business Management at CA Technologies.…

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