Intro of Agile for Waterfall PMs

I hope you have enjoyed the Green Project Management posts covered in the past two weeks (1 & 2).  Remember – You don’t have to be an advocate to be green.  Okay…time to shift direction.  I am very excited for the next three weeks as Kelly’s Contemplation will be focusing on Agile.  This week, I am tremendously honored to have Derek Huether provide an Introduction to Agile for Waterfall PMs and without further delay, I turn it over to Derek…

I had quite an experience this week..  On Monday, I met Jeff Sutherland, the co-creator of Scrum (1995).  Scrum is an iterative, incremental methodology for project management often seen in agile software development.  Jeff was also one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto (2001).  After being a “traditional” project manager for 10 years (2005), I was so inspired upon reading the manifesto, I became a signatory and incorporated its values and principles into my projects.  Before that date, I managed my teams.  After that date, I lead them.

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

12 Principles behind the Agile Manifesto
We follow these principles:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals.  Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development.  The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

So, let’s say you consider yourself a “Waterfall” project manager.  The first formal description of the waterfall model is often cited as a 1970 article by Winston W. Royce. The waterfall model maintains that one should move to a phase only when its preceding phase is completed and it originated in the manufacturing and construction industries.  These highly structured physical environments cause after-the-fact changes to be prohibitively costly.

This approach was inherited by the software development industry, where one would first complete requirements, get sign-off, then continue onto development, quality assurance, and acceptance.  Unfortunately, the world of software is full of surprises and ever-evolving.  Unlike the manufacturing and construction industries, when leveraging predictive approaches verses adaptive approaches, software development will always result in more expense and less value delivered.

Fortunately, if an organization is leveraging Agile software development practices, value is delivered iteratively and incrementally and requirements and solutions evolve through a collaborative effort between self-organizing, cross-functional teams.  More value is delivered earlier, with less waste.

About Derek: Drinker of copious amounts of coffee.  Thinker of what makes sense.  User of both Traditional and Agile Project Management methods. Writer of the upcoming book, Zombie Project Management and creator of The Critical Path blog.


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