Improving Project Agility

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identifying and factoring in variances, the estimates will converge with the actuals.

Collective ownership can also be managed and inserted in targeted places within a program. An infrastructure team may feel empowered over infrastructure development and functional development teams over business verticals. This approach may be conducive to organizations migrating to and soliciting more buy-in for a services oriented architecture (SOA).

A hybrid approach can even address refactoring. From a technical perspective, refactoring is essential practice and must be observed on any project of significant size. Project managers must be sensitive to developers’ requests to perform it, and the consequences of omitting it. Discussion around refactoring should occur openly and without retribution from managers or architects. In cases where refactoring reduces duration there will be a positive variance and so long as the refactoring is well understood, there will be little or decreased risk to the estimate to completion. In cases where refactoring might create a short-term negative variance and / or introduce new dependencies, a project manager might decide to push refactoring towards the end of the project and rebaseline the schedule, or leave it in the hands of a development team's "sprint."

Moving on to deployment, the stated conflict between the PMBOK and XP implicitly assumes that there is no need for change where there are deployment processes and teams that are capable of delivering periodic or “big bang” deployments to schedule. Realistically, these efforts are often manual, brittle, non-repeatable and insufficient. Nearly any application, even secure and redundant ones with users in multiple locations, can be deployed automatically. Most of the necessary tools and technologies have been around for years, if not decades. If a software deployment process and team is sufficiently improved, it will enable the use of many SEPS including RUP and agile ones such as XP.

By embracing XP in an organization that has decided to become more "agile," a project manager can increase a team's buy-in and commitment, and even shift the burden of project planning to the architects and developers. In order to accomplish this, a project manager should further embrace personal interaction, learn a new vocabulary, be willing to apply PMBOK documentation standards alongside and behind the scenes of XP practices, and not be afraid to on-board a Process Engineer and engage the development team to help bridge the gap.

Bibliography:
Beck, Kent. Extreme Programming Explained . Addison-Wesley Professional; 1st edition. October 5, 1999.

Fowler, Martin. The New Methodology . Apr 2003.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. The Project Management Institute. 2000.

Hussman, David. Overview of Agile Estimating & Planning. Northern Virginia Software Symposium. October 30, 2005.

Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto . 2001.

Wells, Don. What is Extreme Programming?  1999.

About the author

Ryan Maxwell, PMP's picture Ryan Maxwell, PMP

Ryan Maxwell, PMP is president of and a project manager for Maxwell TSC. Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Evans have worked together on a number of software development projects of varying size and complexity.

About the author

John Evans's picture John Evans

John Evans is president of and a principal consultant for J.P. Evans, Inc. Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Evans have worked together on a number of software development projects of varying size and complexity.

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