Project Management

Project is Not a Four-Letter Word

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

In March I wrote about project management language and the need to use terms or jargon that is familiar to the audience you are addressing ("In Pursuit of a Common Understanding"). Sometimes you have to draw a line though. I was in a conversation with a customer who said I couldn’t use the word “project” when communicating with agile practitioners. Rarely am I lost for words, but that statement got me.

The customer made the case that because most agile teams are evolving to a product model with permanent or semi-permanent teams focused on continuous delivery, projects are associated (in their minds) with everything that is wrong with how work gets done—bureaucracy; a focus on management and governance over doing the work. Well, I understand the argument, but I don’t agree with it.

There’s more to Agile than products

A lot of focus within agile has been on the evolution from projects to products, particularly when it comes to software development. This is a positive, logical response to what is now possible. It makes no sense to arbitrarily package functionality into a project release when that functionality can be delivered as soon as it is ready without compromising quality or increasing risk.

Supporting stable agile teams that are funded on an ongoing basis for as long as the work they are producing is delivering value—a product-based model—allows that value to be…


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"The reason why worry kills more people than hard work is that more people worry than work."

- Robert Frost