Best practices for managing projects in agile environments–now updated with new techniques for larger projects
Today, the pace of project management moves faster. Project management needs to become more flexible and far more responsive to customers. Using Agile Project Management (APM), project managers can achieve all these goals without compromising value, quality, or business discipline. In Agile Project Management, 2nd Edition, renowned agile pioneer Jim Highsmith thoroughly updates his classic guide to APM, extending and refining it to support even the largest projects and organizations.
Writing for project leaders, managers, and executives at all levels, Highsmith integrates the best project management, product management, and software development practices into an overall framework designed to support unprecedented speed and mobility. The many topics added in this new edition include incorporating agile values, scaling agile projects, release planning, portfolio governance, and enhancing organizational agility. Project and business leaders will especially appreciate Highsmith’s new coverage of promoting agility through performance measurements based on value, quality, and constraints.
Review By: Jennifer Flamm
Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products by Jim Highsmith is primarily geared towards project leaders. Still, I strongly recommend this book for anyone involved in project management, from leader to team member, because it provides a wealth of information.
Every chapter offers a great overview of a process, such as release planning, and the steps showing what to do and how to do it. The examples provide a template for a green implementer. The introduction is a great starting point and a good reference, because it gives the reader an informative summary of the chapters and an overview of the themes of the book.
Throughout the book, Highsmith pulls vivid examples from different parts of life and makes relevant and interesting comparisons using a clear and concise writing style. This is one of my favorite aspects because the examples are very memorable. For instance, some time after I finished reading the book, I asked myself, "Am I paving the software development version of a cow path?" (p. 141) The vivid name reminds me to question whether the process is efficient or effective. Every chapter has key points highlighted in boxes. Many of these points are motivational and inspiring quotes that really illustrate the main ideas in the surrounding section.
In chapter 2, Highsmith introduces the Agile Triangle, consisting of value, quality, and constraints, as an alternative to the traditional project management triangle of scope, schedule, and cost. In the remainder of the book, he refers back to the Agile Triangle and demonstrates how focusing on the points of the triangle will lead to a better managed product. Team members will enjoy chapter 9, which engages the entire team in self organization, team formation, and team rhythms.
Several parts of the book really resonate with me. First, the examples make me question why we do things the way we do and wonder if there is a better way to do it. Secondly, Highsmith presents suggested practices from different angles so that readers can fully understand how to implement the practice. I feel that Highsmith steers the reader towards better ways of implementing agile project management. Third, he stresses the importance of focusing on added value and determining the actual value of the product. From past experience working in research, demonstrating a project's value is crucial towards achieving success. Finally, the book covers enough aspects of project management for someone starting out or someone already familiar with or involved with agile project management. Overall, this is an excellent resource.
Review By: Cathy Bell
It's easy to find someone who feels that the term "agile project management" is a misnomer. They may say that agile development is driven by speed and flexibility, while project management is driven by a project plan written in stone. Can these two seemingly opposing methods work together? Author Jim Highsmith proves in his book that agile project management is achievable without losing either the agility or management of our projects.
Jim draws us into this argument by sharing his own experiences and others who have worked on successful and unsuccessful projects. In the first chapter, Mr. Highsmith explains why agile project management is important today, especially with the customer driving the demand for continuous innovation and wanting development that adapts quickly as their business shifts. Jim advises us to consider that ultimate customer value is delivered at the point of sale, not at the inception of the plan. He says that agile project management (APM) is not a universal best practice and that it requires a shift in the culture of a company. Only those who are willing to embrace agile values and principles will benefit by deploying both agile development and project management. Jim guides the reader on how to incorporate these values into their organization and their project.
For example, we are aware of the triple constraint of project management: scope, schedule, and cost. Jim proposes it be replaced with the agile triangle: value (the value to the current customer), quality (deliver continuous value to the customer with a reliable, adaptable product), and constraints (the traditional scope, schedule, and cost). Jim delves into each point of the triangle in later chapters, gives advice for agile team leaders, and explains how embracing change as part of the development process can benefit the company and customers. Jim also introduces us to the agile project management framework, which is "organic, flexible, and easy to adapt." The steps in the framework are envision, speculate, explore, adapt, and close. No book on project management—even agile project management—would be complete without a chapter on measurement. A later chapter looks at how we can measure our projects to gain a true perspective of both client and organization satisfaction.
In closing, the author leaves us with some thought provoking ideas. The core of agile development is to create a better workplace, but agile does not mean that we are free from structure, responsibility, project leaders, and executives. Agile encourages self discipline, creativity, and adaptability, which the best organizations reward. Both are rewarded with customer satisfaction. Agile project management is not a misnomer, but rather a solid framework we can utilize to keep our organization ahead of the competition.
Jim's explanation of agile project management is structured so that novices can understand the process, and it also shares new ideas on various aspects that can even benefit a team currently working in an agile environment. I recommend this book and even see it as an excellent book for college-level project management courses introducing the concept of agile project management.