Interested in effective project management that delivers exceptional projects?

Interested in effective project management that delivers exceptional projects?

Interested in Effective Project Management that Delivers Exceptional Projects?!

Why is the Choice of Project Management  Approach Important?

My experiences over the past 35 years in project management -- including two certifications in traditional waterfall  project management and two certifications in Agile/Scrum project management -- has led me to be quite opinionated, so you might disagree with somethings that I say here and that is fine.   I also have minimal time with for proselytizers who only advocate "one right way" to project management.

First of all, the nature of a project will inform the type of project management approach.  Certain engineering and construction projects for example lend themselves to rigorous upfront planning and sequential stages.  On the other hand, projects that are customer-centric and involve changing requirements and needs lend themselves to Agile/Scrum approaches (which will be defined and explained below).

For example, one of my past clients was a major global insurance company which had a very ambitious and innovative project to provide a website  for international students coming to Australia to study.  The website provide a marketplace-type portal where students could purchase -- in their home country prior to coming to Australia - essential services such as accommodation (homestay or residential towers in the respective CBDs in Australia states), setting up bank accounts, obtaining telco sim cards to be able to communicatie with their loved ones as soon as they landed in Australia), airport pickup, student safety support, and of course health insurance.

The first attempt at building this multi-language web-portal unfortunately failed because there was little attention to thinking through the complexity of the many stakeholder involved in this multi-country project, there was limited understanding of the "student journey" and related student Agent journey, there was limited planning in showing the progress iterative release of the software product being built, and there was limited thinking through of the IT infrastructure support required in the delivery of this global web-portal. 

Because of these shortcomings in thinking through the project management approach and plan, the initial attempt unfortunately failed -- leaving disappointed end users and leaving a hole in the budget! 

Other reasons why efficient project management is important includes:

  • 32% of projects fail dure to poor management;
  • 68% of project fail to meet deadlines, budgets and quality targets,
  • 97% of businesses believe that project management is essential for success,
  • 80% of high performing projects are led by a project manager with qualifications, and
  • 45% on average large IT projects run 45% over budget.

If you are interested in learning more about the project management approaches and considerations and/or to understand how these learnings might apply to your project or organisation, please feel free to book an hour strategy consultation with me: 

What are the Choices of Project Management Approaches?

Two of the most popular project management approaches are: traditional waterfall project management and Agile/Scrum project management.

Traditional waterfall project management involves the stage-wise conduct of a project often broken into the following stages:

  • Analysis/Define
  • Design
  • Construction/Build
  • Test
  • Release

Agile approaches on the other hand involve shorter -in time- feedback loops in which there is the Define/Build/Release, then Define/Build/Release, then Define/Build/Release.

Therefore the implications and consequences are very different for Waterfall vs Agile on the following dimensions:

Metric                                                                        Waterfall                                  Agile

Planning scale                                                         Long-term                                 Short-term

Distance between Customer and Developer           Long                                         Short

Time between specification and implementation      Long                                       Short

Time to discover problems                                        Long                                      Short

Project schedule risk                                                 High                                       Low

Ability to respond quickly to change                         Low                                         High

Therefore in summary there are very big differences in outcomes between the two approaches, especially for Customer Satisfaction and Ability to respond quickly to change.   These differences therefore require client organisations to seriously consider and choose their project management approach.  The benefits of Agile/Scrum approaches in summary include:

  • More visibility of the product/services being developed;
  • Right product;
  • Time-to-market;
  • Quality;
  • Increased productivity of team;
  • High team morale/motivation ("Enjoyable" project)
  • Happy stakeholders.

Having described the benefits of the Agile/Scrum approach to project management, importantly it should be noted that there are very important and valuable contributions from the traditional waterfall project management approach such as Stakeholder Management, Risk Management and Architecture/Solution Design practices.

If you are interested in these topics, please see the other blog posts:

?The Importance of Stakeholder Management

The Importance of Project Risk Management 

How does One Implement Effective Agile Project Management?

My experiences consistently have shown that the Agile/Scrum approaches can bring out the best in the team because it promotes "multi-functional" team that have specialties but are willing to work collaboratively on any task to "get the job done". Some of the key components of  effective Agile/Scrum practices include the consistent conduct of "rituals", of "roles" and of "artifacts".  Interestingly the framework of Agile/Scrum is "simple" and intentionally not over-engineered.  However it requires vigiilance to consistent performance and self-discipline.

Rituals include:

  • Daily scrums (i.e. 15 minute reviews of What accomplished yesterday, What will do today, Any blockers).
  • Sprint Backlog Refinement
  • Sprint planning 
  • Sprint review
  • Sprint retrospective

The key roles are:

  • Product Owner
  • Development Team
  • Scrum Master

The  primary artifacts (documentation) include:

  • Product Backlog
  • Sprint Backlog
  • Product Increment

The 12 Agile Principles are:

  1. Early and continuous delivery of valuable software/product.
  2. Embrace change
  3. Frequent delivery
  4. Business and developers together
  5. Motivated individuals
  6. Face-to-face conversation
  7. Working software
  8. Sustainable development
  9. Technical excellence
  10. Simplicity
  11. Self-organising teams
  12. Regular reflection and adjustment

My experiences in successfully implementing and maturing an organisation's Agile/Scrum practices is to first conduct a "Diagnostic" with anonymous interviews as the things that are going well and things to improve, e.g. along the dimensions of Clarity (of vision,etc),  Performance, Leadership, Culture, and Foundation.  This produces a Team Health Agility Radar that then informs what areas on which to work and which areas to leverage.  (Please see Sally Elatta's clever work via this link: ).

In summary the key takeaways are:

  • The choise of project management approach is important.
  • Training in project management for the team is a critical success factor.
  • Agile approaches bring out the best in the team members' contributions, provides better motivation and morale, and provides increments of actual delivery -- resulting in better satisfaction of the customer/end-user and in the "right product" being released!

In terms of tools used for helping support these rituals, roles and activities, there are both physical and electronic "kanban boards" that visually show how the project work is decomposed and tracked as to team members' performance -- in a collaborative way.   Sample tools include:  Asana, Monday, Trello, Microsoft Azure Dev/Ops (previously Team Foundation Server/Visual Studio) and many others. Choice of such tools should be informed by the maturity of the team and their requirements -- along wtih planned growth in the maturity of their Agile/Scrum practices. (More details about many of these tools can be found at the following link: Top Partners and Products

If you wish to have more information on this important topic, please feel free to contact me to arrange a one hour free strategy consultation call.  You can book an appointtment that works for your schedule via the following link: 

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