Project Management

Introducing the PMI Agile Practice Guide

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This blog is a conversation between the Agile Practice Guide Team and our PMI and Agile Alliance Communities to gain insight, support and collaboration around the creation of a usable and relevant body of work that supports transition to hybrid and agile in project work.

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Categories: Agile Practice Guide

PMI and Agile Alliance have joined forces to create an Agile Practice Guide, with the intention to to create a greater understanding of agile practices, with emphasis on how agile relates to the project management community. Although that is a very clear charter, it’s also very broad, likely leaving many people wondering, “What will they actually cover in this guide?” This blog post intends to offer a preview of what readers can expect to find in the Agile Practice Guide.

We describe the Agile Mindset

To set the right context, we begin by introducing the  Agile Manifesto mindset, values, and principles. The opening also covers the concepts of definable and high-uncertainty work, and the correlation between lean, Kanban method and agile approaches.

We perform a deep analysis of Life Cycle Selection

For Project Managers, the most visible aspect of Agile approaches is arguably the delivery life cycle.  Various lifecycles are discussed in the guide, along with suitability filters, tailoring guidelines and common combinations of approaches. This topic is intended to show what is and is not Agile delivery, and how to be more thoughtful for when it’s well suited.

We give a few suggestions for Creating an Agile Environment

There are several critical factors to consider when creating an Agile Environment such as servant leadership and team composition. We explore those factors in depth.

We also offer recommendations for Delivering in an Agile Environment

It is our goal to help you learn how to organize your team, and equip them with common for delivering value on a regular basis. We provide examples of empirical measurements for the team and for reporting status.

We then explore Organizational Considerations for Project Agility

Every project is influenced strongly by the context of the organization. This guide explores organizational factors that impact the use of agile practices, such as culture, readiness, business practices, and the role of a PMO.

We close by issuing A Call to Action

The content listed here describes the substance of what our team pulled into the Guide. With such a broad field to cover, we did our best to find the most important concepts and techniques to help project practitioners shift to an agile way of working. That being said, we knew from the beginning this guide would not be perfect. In that spirit, we close the main body of the guide with a call to action requesting your input for the continuous improvement of the practice guide.

The guide has a bit more to cover. Essential information that is too bulky and would disrupt the flow of the story is located in three annexes following the main text.

We outline a PMBOK® Guide Mapping

To help those formally trained in project management transition to an agile mindset,  we constructed a mapping of agile concepts to the Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas defined in the PMBOK® Guide, Sixth Edition. The mapping describes how hybrid and agile approaches address the attributes described in the PMBOK® Guide Knowledge Areas. It covers what stays the same and what may be different along with some guidelines to consider for increasing the likelihood of success.

We also provide an Agile Manifesto Mapping

Conversely, it made sense to Indicate where the four value statements of the Agile Manifesto and the twelve underlying principles are covered in the Agile Practice Guide.

We list an Overview of Agile and Lean Frameworks

In order to illustrate the many ways to be agile, the guide Describes some of the most commonly used agile approaches, such as Scrum, eXtreme Programming (XP), Kanban, Scrumban, Feature-Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Agile Unified Process (AUP), Scrum of Scrums, Scaled Agile Framework, Large Scale Scrum, Enterprise Scrum and Disciplined Agile.

Further useful information that supplements the main body of the practice guide is captured in three appendices.

Appendix X1 - Contributors and Reviewers

This lists the people that have created and improved the practice guide.

Appendix X2 - Attributes that Influence Tailoring

This appendix provides high-level guidance on when and how to tailor agile approaches. It can be used to determine circumstances that might warrant changing or introducing new techniques, and then offers some recommendations to consider.

Appendix X3 - Agile Suitability Filter Tools

Proposes a model for assessing the suitability of agile, hybrid and predictive approaches. It is intended to help people find the sweet-spot for their current initiative.

Concluding the document are references, bibliography and a glossary. The references section lists the standards and other formal foundational publications cited.

The bibliography is categorised by practice guide section, indicating additional knowledge assets that provide detailed information on topics covered in this practice guide. Here you’ll find pointers to books, blogs, videos, graphics and other useful guidance that you may wish to consider for further study.

The glossary is a list of terms and their definitions as used in this practice guide that are specific to the agile mindset. Refer to the glossary whenever you’re unsure of how a term may be used.

What do you think?

We look forward to your views and insights. Please share them in the comments, and we’ll make sure they are considered in the list of improvements for future versions of the practice guide.

Posted by Horia Slusanschi on: May 21, 2017 04:16 PM | Permalink

Comments (38)

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Overall, I thought this document was well-written and it is definitely going in the right direction. For a long time, PMI has treated Agile and traditional plan-driven project management as separate and independent domains of knowledge with little or no integration between the two and this is a big step towards closing that gap. Here are some general comments:

• Agile PM Role – I don’t think this document has gone far enough to address the real “elephant in the room” of “What exactly is the role of a Project Manager in an Agile environment?”. There are many project managers who are in denial about that and think that their project management role will go on indefinitely unchanged. There is a need to address this issue more directly so that project managers can plan their future career direction.

In the back section of the document where it talks about the PMBOK Guide knowledge areas, in a number of different places it says that the role and expectations of a project manager don’t change in an Agile environment. I don’t agree with that – the role of a project manager at the team level (if there is one at all) will likely change radically to more of a coaching and facilitation role than a traditional PM role.

• Organizational Perspective – I think the decision to limit the scope of this document to project and team-level work and to exclude discussion of the context of implementing Agile at an enterprise and organizational level is a mistake. Treating it as a project level function is much too limiting because most Agile implementations cannot be successful without some level of organizational transformation. Furthermore, the role of a project manager is either non-existent or very limited at the team level and that will force many project managers to move up to more complex enterprise-level projects.

• Agile Mindset – The section on “Agile Mindset” is really important and probably could be beefed up a lot. It’s also important for PM’s to understand what it means to their own PM mindset. It’s not a matter of an either/or choice between adopting an Agile Mindset and a PM Mindset. In many cases, you need to blend the two and take a broader view of what “project management” is.

Many people would not view “Agile” as “Project Management” because it doesn't fit the normal stereotype of what "project management" is; however it’s just a different form or "project management". That’s a big mindset change that PM’s need to make - we need to rethink what "project management" is in broader terms that include all forms of project management including Agile.

• Relationship of Lean and Agile – I don’t agree with the graphic on page 11 showing that Lean totally encompasses Agile. It does not – there is a lot of overlap between the two; however, taken to an extreme, each would tend to pull you in somewhat different directions. Both are focused on customer value but lean is more heavily focused on efficiency where Agile is more heavily focused on flexibility and adaptivity.

• Agile versus Predictive – The discussion on page 17 talks about a spectrum of alternatives with predictive at one end point and Agile at the other end point. The idea of a spectrum of approaches is absolutely right on but I don’t think that the use of the word “Agile” for an end point is the right choice. Agile should not be an end point because there is not just one way to do Agile – there is a range of choices for Agile. This spectrum should reflect different levels of planning and I think the end-points are more appropriately called something like “adaptive” and “plan-driven”.

• Hybrid Approach – The section on hybrid approaches needs to be improved. This is a critical area for PM’s to understand and, as it is currently written, this is too high level and not specific enough to help a PM understand how to really implement a hybrid approach

• Team Roles – I would like to see the discussion of team roles expanded. One particular subject that is not covered is how many project functions that might normally be performed by a project manager have been assimilated into other roles in an Agile environment. Agile is really a distributed form of project management.

Those are my primary high-level comments. I have other more detailed comments if you would like. I hope that those comments are helpful.

In Section 3.1 "Characteristics of Project Life Cycle" (p.18) I think there's a clear mistake in the Characteristics table. In the "Predictive" row, under the "Goal" column it says "Manage cost". The inference, intended or not, is that the Predictive life cycle is better at managing cost. I could not disagree more. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is far easier to hit a budget target via an agile approach. Think about it, on each iteration the agile team is creating shippable code. When the budget runs out, and are forced to stop, you have delivered some value. Conversely, in a Predictive life cycle, it is very difficult to spend all your budget -- and only your budget -- while still delivering value by placing code into production.

great performance ! im glad that the PMBOK and agile management have joined forces to create an Agile Practice Guide

Agile practice guide is a nice addition to PMBOK guide to start with. There is always room for improvement as mentioned by valued members in comment section. However, I believe PMI has taken a wise step to introduce Agile way of managing projects among project managers to coup up with the changing demands of industry in which organizations wants to be ahead of their competition by delivering quality products early and incrementally .

I celebrate with all above; thank you for this significant investment in moving PM to better address the increasingly fluid environment of successful delivery!!

Thanks for sharing

Agile practice initiated.

Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for sharing!

I have read the guide, but I believe that it should focus more on the 7 famous domains


Looks great, thanks

Thank you for sharing.

Great initiative indeed! Bringing best out of project management practices and Agile practices.

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