How would you manage a project if it was your money? Agile of course!

This fantastic question was posed to me by a co-worker today. (Thanks Steve!) ūüôā It spurred some great discussion on why Agile project management really does encourage managing the project as if the project budget was your money. Unlike traditional project management, the focus is not just on managing what was agreed to, but rather on managing what provides constant value. To do this, there is focus on managing the two sides of the Value Coin.

The Benefit side of the Value Coin

How many of us would be willing to pay for:

  • Large ¬†documents and deliverables that provide little value to the client
  • Long periods of time with no value to the client
  • Managing to what was agreed to rather than what is required
  • Not being collaborative when new items are found and immediately issuing a change request when something new is discovered?
  • A large amount of risk at the end of the project because we haven’t delivered frequently and iteratively
  • A Manager focusing on reporting rather than ensuring the team is progressing as fast as possible
Agile Project Management does align with how one would manage a project if it was his or her personal money. The focus on constant value is something that ensures the client receives the value they deserve from the project every day.
The Budget Side of the Value Coin
Of course this focus on managing the project if it was your money does have some consequences we haven’t talked about yet. These factors are related to the budget of the Value Coin.
How many of us would be willing to commit to be a client for a project if:
  • We were not given an estimated budget for how much it would cost
  • We did not have confidence in the team and the plan for the project
  • We were not consulted as the project progressed.
  • We were not able to prioritize the work.
Again Agile Project Management allows us to best align with the Budget Side of the Value Coin.
Three Truths
I believe there are three truths to Agile Project Management in light of this:
1) We need to manage projects like the project budget is our money. We need to maximize identification with the client and the benefit of the project. We need to Honestly Care about the client and the value they require every day.
2) We need to provide the client with an estimate for the work so they can make an informed decision. The Benefit side of the Value coin still must be larger than the cost side. We need to be  Fiscally Responsible about what the client is undertaking. We should not recommend a project if we are unsure about whether it can return the required value.
3) We need to ensure that the first two truths do not adversely affect the team. We need to Passionately Support the team by removing issues, obstacles, and problems as soon as possible to deliver maximum value without adding undue team hardship. To often we have seen the team side of the equation be sacrificed as issues are encountered.
I would propose a project can only be successful if all three truths are held.

Author: Terry Bunio

Terry Bunio is passionate about his work as the Manager of the Project Management Office at the University of Manitoba. Terry oversees the governance on Information Technology projects to make sure the most important projects are being worked on in a consistent and effective way. Terry also provides leadership on the customized Project Methodology that is followed. The Project Methodology is a equal mix of Prince2, Agile, Traditional, and Business Value. Terry strives to bring Brutal Visibility, Eliminating Information islands, Right Sizing Documentation, Promoting Collaboration and Role-Based Non-Consensus, and short Feedback Loops to Minimize Inventory to the Agile Project Management Office. As a fan of pragmatic Agile, Terry always tries to determine if we can deliver value as soon as possible through iterations. As a practical Project Manager, Terry is known to challenge assumptions and strive to strike the balance between the theoretical and real world approaches for both Traditional and Agile approaches. Terry is a fan of AWE (Agile With Estimates), the Green Bay Packers, Winnipeg Jets, and asking why?

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