Managing Programs with Agile and Traditional Projects

Johanna Rothman works with companies to improve how they manage their product development--to maximize management and technical staff productivity and to improve product quality. She is the author of Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects and the Jolt Productivity award-winning Manage It: Your Guide to Modern, Pragmatic Project Management. She is the author of the forthcoming Agile and Lean Program Management: Collaborating Across the Organization. See her blogs and more of her writing at jrothman.com.

Imagine you are transitioning to agile. You are a program manager with a few agile projects and a traditional project. How do you manage the program?

Possible Technical Program with Communities of Practice

Above is my drawing of what a technical program team looks like. Sally's project is actually a small program itself. Sally is not the program manager in the middle. She is project manager, managing a subproject that happens to be quite large. She has six small teams, all working on one large feature set. For example, they could be working on the platform for a large program. All the “S” people working with her are Scrum Masters, working on their feature sets. They are coordinating the work of their Scrum teams to deliver the work of Sally's project into the entire program. Joe, Tim and Henry's teams all need to coordinate with Sally's teams. 

Let's assume Joe and Tim are working in an agile way. They are all working on the same product. But maybe Henry doesn't know anything about agile. Henry's team is still working on a feature set. It's just that Henry’s team is working in a waterfall way.

If you are the technical program manager, how do you manage the program? If you work in iterations, what happens at the end of every two weeks? Henry has nothing useful to say and is bored. He can't …

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