PM Essence

Rediscover your 'Agile Quotient'!!

By Madhavan S Rao, PMP, Assurance Consulting

There is no doubt that Agile Project Management Methodologies are getting increasingly adopted by many organizations and Project teams.

However, not having the immediate opportunity, to apply formal Agile Methodologies, need not inhibit any of us from being basically 'agile'...

If you have heard yourself or your peers reflecting on the below questions; this article would interest you.

“I have done my ACP (Agile Certification). However my Organization is yet to adopt Agile methodologies in their Projects. What do I do?

“My team proposed using Agile for this outsourced Project. However Client is not willing!”. Am I struck?

“I am using Agile Methodologies in my Projects. However the collective learning curve is quite steep!”. Will it take a long time to demonstrate the benefits of going Agile?"

If you refer the English dictionary for 'agile' – you would see: nimble, supple, lithe, sprightly, alert, responsive, swift, active, dexterous etc…. It is obvious that 'agile' describes the mindset.

So here goes: Below are 6 Project situations. Each is a simplified version, for sake of brevity.

As you read through them, try to identify (to yourself) the agile attributes practiced by the Project Manager/Team member.

1) Client was taking an unduly longer time to review and approve the SRS document prepared by the offshore Project Team. The PM gauged that the delay , was due to voluminous documentation (necessary!). The PM connected with the Client and proactively offered to “To do a walk through session of the SRS to the Client Business Analysts and answer any queries”. The client agreed and the session was arranged.Based on the feedback and few modifications, the SRS document was approved by the Client. The PM and team could effectively utilize the time and resources, without the idling status – “waiting for sign-off”.

2) In a Maintenance Project, there was occasional spare capacity between work requests. The Project Manager proposed to the client to assign a set of low priority work requests that could be taken up in an interrupt mode. The team could start and stop working on this, based on the regular work requests that had an SLA based turnaround time. This additional productivity helped the Client with further value add. At a later date, when the PM requested for an increase in the FTE resources for the Maintenance Project; the client was more than willing to approve.

3) Several work requests were being handled simultaneously by various teams. The team members were dynamically reallocated, balancing the flow of work requests and availability of skilled resources. Whenever any work request was on the threshold of breaching the SLA's ; an automatic message would go up on an electronic LED display in the Hall, where most of the resources were collocated. Surprisingly a team member from another project, would approach the PL of the troubled project with “ I have the skills for this work request. Currently, I am free. Can I help?”. The task of providing additional resources for a troubled project was a seamless and realtime process, without eating into the time of Project Manager and Management, to the extent possible.

4) PM to team “ If we do not deliver this work request by 25th this month, we would be paying a SLA penalty of $2500?”. This message (in quantified terms) getting communicated to every team member, normally galvanized the team to higher levels of productivity. It also prompted the PL to clearly state, what assistance was required to complete the work in time.This pre-empted 11th hour surprises on completion status.

5) Status update from a Team Leader to the Project Manager – “ The Project has 4 Modules. For 3 of them , we have things in control. The 4th Module involves some research and uncertainty on time lines. Will update you much in advance in case we need more expert resources or need to negotiate with Client for additional time and budget. We will not have occasion for a last minute surprises, rest assured.”

6) The Client had proposed very tight and (an unreasonable) schedule for a proposed project to the Vendor partner. The Vendor PM had a huge challenge in saying a 'NO' to a Platinum Customer. A YES would also result in ext a unbilled resources being put into the Project and it becoming an unprofitable account. After initial deliberations with the Client and team, the Vendor PM proposed the Project be sliced into 2 parts. 1 smaller part to be executed by the Client at Onsite and the 2nd larger part to be executed by the Vendor offshore. With this arrangement, it would be possible to meet the schedule timelines. (whether this suggestion was accepted or not by client, is another matter. The PM conceiving of proposing such an Execution model is indicative of the desired mindset). These are just indicative examples, where Project stakeholders did “What More was Possible!”, besides applying the Processes and Methodologies.

When we continually strive to think on “What More is Possible?”, we are complementing and supplementing the Process action points with 'agile', action points.

Visualize the cascading impact of a team that thinks 'agile'. If you have a team size of 20 or 100 or 200, and each of them deliver 1 'agile' action point a day , we have sown the seeds of success , not withstanding uncertainties and Murphy.

Like to call this Murphy++. - Delivering unexpected positive surprises. This is possible by thinking 'agile'.

When you are determined to come up with 1 'agile' action point daily, you will find that you can. The human mind is easily reprogrammable to rediscover its true nature – basically agile!!.

Try this out and- Rediscover your agile quotient.

Best Comments for the above 6 examples to 'agile mindset' will get a special mention in future edition of Essence surprise. Provide your response to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the subject Line “Rediscover your Agile Quotient”.