3 Questions Every Sponsor Should Ask of Agile Project Teams

PMI Durham Highlands Chapter

Kevin Aguanno is the agile practice lead for Procept Associates Ltd., one of PMI’s first Registered Education Providers, specializing in training and project and programme strategy consulting. Author of over 30 books, audiobooks and DVDs on project management topics, he teaches agile methods at several universities and at conferences around the world. He spends most of his time helping large, complex organizations integrate agile project management methods into their governance frameworks.

As a consultant specializing in helping organizations adopt agile management methods, I am amazed at the wide array of management challenges that my clients believe will be fixed by the introduction of agile project delivery methods. While there may be many different reasons for attempting an agile transformation, one common challenge faced by these organizations is the decision between adopting a loose approach to agile or a disciplined approach to agile.

The difference between these two approaches is significant. Both allow for delivery teams to efficiently adapt to project changes, whether they be caused by changing requirements, changing technologies, unreliable vendors or weak skill levels among team members.

The key differentiator, however, is that disciplined approaches to agile put a governance framework around the delivery team. Such a framework allows the team to adapt to changes within a lightweight framework that still addresses the key governance points the business need (e.g., to decide whether to allow the project to begin, and later, to know that the project should be allowed to continue). While there are many governance data points that can be gathered and analyzed to help make these go/no-go decisions, there are three in my experience that stand out as being the most important.

Scope
Perhaps the most important question of all that sponsors should ask…

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"[Musicians] talk of nothing but money and jobs. Give me businessmen every time. They really are interested in music and art."

- Jean Sibelius, explaining why he rarely invited musicians to his home.

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