Project Management

The Reluctant Agile Client

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.

Organizations don’t adopt agile project delivery techniques because it makes everyone happy. There are people and teams that strongly prefer agile over predictive or waterfall-based approaches, but ultimately the decision to use a particular method will be based on its ability to achieve results. Of course, that’s one of the main drivers for the growth of agile adoption—it focuses on delivering solutions that are better aligned with customer needs.

However, in many cases the decision to use agile or waterfall on a project is not completely in the hands of the team or organization—even if the leadership team has committed to one or the other. There are cases when customers can try to dictate agile use. In fact, many organizations’ first experience with agile was driven by a major customer demanding it as a condition of awarding a contract, or at least indicating a preference for vendors that used agile. That still happens a bit these days, but it’s less common than it used to be because in most industries the majority of companies providing custom solutions have already embraced agile as the most effective way for them to deliver optimal customer value.

However, there is a related scenario I am seeing more frequently now: customers that have not yet embraced agile practices are pushing back on companies who want to use agile approaches to implement solutions. This friction…

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