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Agility Methods and Project Governance

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Governance and scope creep is always one of the major problems in any project.  Limited resources and continuous demand from non-project needs both elongate projects and spread resources too thin.  I was speaking with a technology friend about project governance methods and he pointed out that his organization used a strict “agility method” that I found quite amusing.  While it’s quite a nice structure for governance, I found it anything but agile.  His organization’s agility method included strict adherence to published timeframes for tasks and a strict ban on management interference in project tasks.

I rather like the thought of management not being able to request an already used resource and shifting the focus of that resource until the task is complete.  In this method, if management needed to change the resource’s task, they would need to justify to a governance committee the reasons why, and the governance committee would be instructed by policy only to allow changes under the most dire of circumstances.  You can see why I think this is a wonderful project management tool.  The absolute prevention of scope creep not only controls cost and timing, but when your resources are often working more than full time, often management requests don’t mean that work gets shifted, but rather that work gets added.  This is unfair to your resources since projects often can’t really get pushed, and the resource can’t say no to management.

On the other hand you can see why I find this agility method amusing.  It’s anything but agile.  What the agility method does is ensure that once a project has been approved, staffed, and funded, nothing can change it’s course.  Until task completion, the project resources are pretty well committed, and only after large chunks of tasks are completed can periodic review of velocity and direction be reviewed.

From what I understand, there are many types of agility methods, and I’ve only heard of one of them.  What I do seem to know generically is that the method seems to provide a working structure that allows projects to be completed in the most efficient manner with the least interruption.  The actual agility policies that are created may differ than the one I described above, but in the end, I’m not sure “agility” is the word I would have used.

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3 responses to “Agility Methods and Project Governance”

  1. Stacy Chapman Avatar

    Oh, this is a horrible “agile” – hilarious! One of the guiding principles of the Agile Method is that late changes to requirements are welcome – changing it to “agility” doesn’t get to let it be so abused. Here’s the wikipedia on it

  2. systematicHR Avatar

    Stacy: I’ve never used agility methods and didn’t know what they were. When I was given this overview by a friend, I thought that something was wrong. Thanks for the link.


  3. Kelly Waters Avatar

    I quite agree! This is about as un-agile as you can get. If you’r einterested in reading lots more about agile project management methods, there’s tons of free information on my blog, All About Agile:

    Maybe you should recommend it to your friend 🙂

    Kelly Waters
    All About Agile