Government PM: Challenges and Opportunities for Agile Adoption

PMI Southern Ontario Chapter

Bruce is the founder of, a resource for growing IT project managers.

Project management skills will play a decisive role in the evolution of government. Part of the equation lies in political will to provide the funds necessary to replace decaying infrastructure and improve access to services. As project managers, what can we do to deliver better projects for the public? Using agile is part of the answer.

Challenge: Low-Risk Appetite and Barriers to Change
Government sector project managers face special challenges in changing their methods. In some cases, legislation and regulations require certain activities to be carried out. For example, public consultations and assessments may be difficult to align with the traditional agile desire to ship prototypes quickly. In addition, governments are under pressure to demonstrate value for money. In that environment, adopting agile may be perceived as risky simply because it is a newer methodology.

Opportunity: Increasing U.S. Government Support for Agile Concepts
Government support for agile is rapidly gaining momentum in the United States. This is a major change from a few years ago, when agile advocates struggled to find an audience. For example, consider “The digital services playbook,” an online publication from the U.S. Digital Office. A key principle from this document states:

“We want to get working software into users’ hands as early as possible to give the …

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