Project Management

Agile in Practice

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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.

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Kristin Jones
Becky Hartman
Johanna Rothman
Mike Griffiths
Betsy Kauffman
Jesse Fewell
Edivandro Conforto
Horia Slusanschi
Karl Best
Stephen Matola
Stephen Townsend

Recent Posts

Agile Practice Guide Goes Global

Unveiling the Community Bridge – the Agile Practice Guide

Introducing the PMI Agile Practice Guide

Agile Practice Guide Launching Pad

Alignment of the Agile Practice Guide and the PMI Standards

Agile Practice Guide Goes Global

Practice Guide Translations Available

Thanks to the efforts of 40 volunteers who supported the translation validation process, the Agile Practice Guide is now available in 11 languages in addition to English:  Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Simplified Chinese and Spanish.  PMI members can download the translated Practice Guide, which is bundled with the corresponding PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition translation, at no charge as part of their PMI membership benefits.  To access the electronic file, visit and log in using your PMI membership credentials (if you need help, contact PMI’s Customer Care Center for support).  Once you have logged in, click on the PMBOK® Guide & Standards tab at the top of the page.  On the right hand side, click on the link next to the PMBOK® Guide cover, and the next page should provide a link for downloading the file for each available language.

The Agile Alliance will be posting the Agile Practice Guide files for access by its members shortly. 

Updated PMI-ACP® Certification Examination

On 26 March, PMI transitioned to an updated version of the Agile Certified Professional (PMI-ACP)® certification examination.  While exam questions must be answered in English, exam candidates can now opt to use translation aids available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Spanish.  The Japanese translation aid will be available beginning 11 June 2018.  Additionally, the Agile Practice Guide is now one of the study resources for the examination and the certification exam has been updated to match the terminology in the practice guide.

So both the Agile Practice Guide and the PMI-ACP certification are more accessible to the global project management community!

Business Analysis & Agile

In December, we published The PMI Guide to Business Analysis. This standard and guide provides a foundation for growing business analysis practices.  It is adaptable for any organization in any industry, and across the continuum of project delivery methods, including agile.  PMI members can download electronic copies of The PMI Guide to Business Analysis and the Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide at no charge from (see Agile Practice Guide section above for instructions).

Still Seeking Feedback!

I continue to encourage you to share feedback and thoughts on the practice guide with us.  Please post your comments on this blog where we are capturing inputs for future updates and enhancements.

Posted by Stephen Townsend on: April 23, 2018 11:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (49)

Unveiling the Community Bridge – the Agile Practice Guide

Drum roll, please!!

For the past year, we have shared with you that the Agile Practice Guide being jointly developed by volunteers from Agile Alliance® and Project Management Institute (PMI) was coming.  Both organizations have officially announced that the Practice Guide is available for no-charge download for their members from their respective web sites.  In fact, PMI has bundled the Agile Practice Guide with the release of the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition.  The bundled publications provide practitioners with good practices for managing projects across the full spectrum of project life cycles.

Some stakeholders have shared early feedback on the Practice Guide.  One reviewer conceded the Practice Guide was a step in the right direction, and followed with specific critiques and suggestions to improve it.  Another user shared that his organization used the Agile Suitability Filter Tool in the Practice Guide to have a frank conversation with a client about the best approach for managing the contracted project.  As you know, customer feedback is critical for enhanced development and value delivery, so please don’t be shy – tell us what you think!

You can post your stories, reactions or questions here at this blog.  If you do not want to share information publicly, please feel free to write to me at [email protected].  My colleague Karl Best and I are collecting feedback, stories and additional information to share with a future Practice Guide update team.

And don’t forget that Practice Guide team members will be at several upcoming events where you can network with them in person, including:

  • Mike Griffiths and Jesse Fewell at the PMI Global Conference, 28-31 October, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Jesse Fewell at PMI SeminarsWorld™, 31 October -1 November, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  • Mike Griffiths at the PMI PMO Symposium, 5-8 November, Houston, Texas, USA
  • Mike Griffiths at the Dubai International Project Forum, 18-21 November, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Posted by Stephen Townsend on: October 20, 2017 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

Introducing the PMI Agile Practice Guide

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)

Agile Practice Guide Launching Pad

Categories: Agile Practice Guide

Agile Alliance and Project Management Institute (PMI) are about to initiate a major launch later this year – the Agile Practice Guide.  Our joint development team has spent seven of the anticipated nine months writing so far.  These are exciting times with a little bit of anxiety creeping in from time to time.

Doing something as bold as bridging a divide between two communities carries elements of risk.  What if neither community likes what we have produced?  What if we do not meet expectations of what people envision an Agile Practice Guide should be or contain?  What if this “Big Thing” we have done falls completely flat?

 There are many “what if” scenarios like this that we could play out in our minds.  It is sometimes very challenging for us to stay focused on our mission because these “what ifs” interrupt our thinking as we try to complete our work.

But eventually our “what if” questions have given way to “how cool” thinking.  How cool will it be when the Agile Practice Guide helps a team spread its agile mindset across an organization?  How cool will it be when organizations use content in the Agile Practice Guide to accelerate value delivery to customers?  How cool will it be when folks from the Agile Alliance, PMI and other communities start sharing their learning and experiences with each other because they were inspired by our collaboration on this project?

So as we prepare for the launch of the Agile Practice Guide later this year, how cool will it be when you come talk with our team about our experiences in developing the guide and what you thought about it?

Over the coming months, our team members are planning to be at the following events where you can connect with us:

  • Jesse Fewell: Agile2017 (August, Orlando, Florida, USA); PMI Global Congress North America (October, Chicago, Illinois, USA); PMI SeminarsWorld  (July in Indianapolis, Indiana; August in New Orleans, Louisiana; and September in Nashville, Tennessee, all USA)
  • Mike Griffiths:  PMI EMEA Global Congress (May, Rome, Italy); PMI Northern Alberta Chapter Conference (June, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada); Agile2017; PMI Global Congress North America
  • Becky Hartman: Agile Alliance Technical Conference (April, Boston, Massachusetts, USA); Agile2017
  • Betsy Kauffman: Agile2017; Southern Fried Agile (October, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA); Red Hat Agile Day (October, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA)
  • Steve Matola: Agile2017
  • Johanna Rothman: Influential Agile Leader (May, Toronto, Ontario, Canada); Agile2017; Agile Prague (September, Prague, Czech Republic)
  •  Horia Slu?anschi: blog

 We hope that you will come chat with team members about the project and the journey that you, your team and your organization are on.  Let’s use these opportunities as a launching pad to demonstrate the power of individual passion and engagement; the acceleration of value delivery through teamwork; and a vision and mindset that can take people and their organizations to completely new heights.

 How cool!


Posted by Stephen Townsend on: April 08, 2017 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Alignment of the Agile Practice Guide and the PMI Standards

This post discusses the development of the new Agile Practice Guide and it’s fit, alignment and potential conflicts with other PMI standards documents including the upcoming PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition.

Why Care About Alignment?

Alignment between PMI practice guides and standards is important. People look to these documents not only for guidance on how to undertake work, but also as definitions of terms and often the basis for their own corporate standards. So, it is not a good situation when one PMI document defines a term, like “a Sprint”, as one thing and then a later guide defines it slightly differently. Likewise, recommended approaches should be aligned too. We don’t want one guide recommending the goal of setting a vision to be “X” and another guide saying it is “Y”.  To help avoid these situations, the PMI maintains three sets of standards and a unifying lexicon document.

How PMI Standards Fit Together

First there are “Foundational Standards”, like the well know PMBOK® Guide, but also including standards for program and portfolio management. Since the PMI is an ANSI accredited standards developer, the development process for these documents is very rigorous, for a description of the steps involved see this description for the PMI website. 

One step down in terms of development rigor are “Practice Standards”. These describe the use of a tool, technique or process identified in the PMBOK® Guide or other foundational standards. Examples include the “Practice Standard for Scheduling” and the “Practice Standard for Project Estimating”. When developing recommendations and guidance for agile approaches we need to explain where they deviate from these established Practice Standards.

Lastly, there are “Practice Guides” that provide supporting information and instruction. Practice guides may become potential standards and if so, would undergo the process for development of full consensus standards. Terms used in all three levels of documents are defined in a single, unifying “Lexicon of Terms”. Definitions in the Lexicon were developed by volunteer experts, and PMI standards committees are chartered to use the Lexicon terms without modification.

Where the Agile Practice Guide Fits In

The Agile Practice Guide currently under development fits into the third category of “practice guide”. It was generally agreed that any kind of “standard for agile” would simply not make sense. Any formal document on agile methods should be descriptive, not prescriptive. Nevertheless, it is still peer reviewed and must define and use terms in accordance with the PMI Lexicon.

A challenge in creating the guide was to describe the application of the agile mindset and values in a project setting that has terms and definitions sometimes different from those already defined in the existing PMI standards and lexicon. Often the principles and practices used in agile approaches differ from those recommended in a classical plan-driven approach. So, when the PMI wanted to create an Agile Practice Guide it was aware there was the potential for issues with its existing standards offerings.

A Benefit of Planning for a Living

The PMI knew their newly commissioned Agile Practice Guide would likely to clash terms and definitions with existing standards like the “Business Analysis Practice Guide” and the PMBOK® Guide., Therefore, to minimize that conflict, they engaged participants from the Agile Practice Guide team to first write introductions to each of the Knowledge Areas for the upcoming PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. These introductions describe adaptation and tailoring considerations for agile, iterative, and adaptive environments. They help align PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition – due out in Q3 2017 with the Agile Practice Guide, also synchronized with the same release date.

In addition to new Knowledge Area introductions, the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition has a new appendix for agile, iterative, adaptive and hybrid project environments. Written by the same subset of Agile Practice Guide authors, the appendix explores the nuances of how the project management process groups described in The Standard for Project Management are performed with respect to a variety of project environments and life cycles.

So, by first getting this subset of the Agile Practice Guide authors to write the agile related components of the next edition of the PMBOK® Guide they hopefully reduced the potential for conflict and misalignment. Using the same people to develop both documents reduces interpretation differences, but there are still some unavoidable industry conflicts.

Planning Helps but Reality Does Not Care

Agile approaches were developed as a deliberate response to the issues associated with using plan-driven approaches in highly volatile environments. As such plan-driven definition and terms were not generally consulted or adhered to. In some instances, agile protagonists wanted to purposely distance themselves from the established status quo.

For example, “earned value“ is in the eye of the beholder. In the PMI Lexicon it is defined as “The measure of work performed expressed in terms of the budget authorized for that work.” Yet, in the agile community it is more usually known as “the value of the benefits delivered” - quite separate from the budget authorized for that work.

Another challenge is explaining when and why the recommended approaches between plan-driven guidance and agile approaches seem to differ. Take defining scope and developing specifications for example. Plan driven approaches work from the perspective that the most efficient approach is defined as much as possible upfront, get agreement this is what is required and then start executing towards this agreement of scope.

Agile approaches work from the perspective that unsurfaced complexities and uncertainties will prevent a near complete specification of work being discovered near the start of the project. So, instead of attempting to prematurely define a specification that will then frequently change, it is more time and cost efficient to build some small increments of product and iterate to the final required design from there.

These are very different approaches to scoping and execution. Each makes sense in its own context and, as always, there is potential for combining elements of each into a hybrid, third alternative. The Agile Practice Guide needs to respect both approaches and offer actionable guidance to practitioners faced with these circumstances so they can make informed decisions.

Next Steps

Our work in developing the Agile Practice Guide so far has raised some great topics for discussion. Hopefully, this post has introduced some of the issues associated with alignment with existing PMI standards. Future blog posts will cover planning-and-process mindsets vs uncertainty-and-people based mindsets and other topics of alignment.


Posted by Mike Griffiths on: March 03, 2017 08:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

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