• Steve Wake
  • Amy Hatton
  • Katie Taylor
Chairman, Association for Project Management (APM)

What are the key milestones you predict for Agile in 2016?

For me the greatest indicator will come when it is treated as completely normal, accepted and understood. It needs to be communicated better. APM sees that and is helping by working with DSDM and our agile and project experts and practitioners to produce a small handbook of practical advice that works. The faster we all try it and use it, the faster we will know how, when and if to use it. Learning by doing. That’s agile. My hunch is that many non-agile users do it already. They just don’t call it agile.

How does an organisation get started on the Agile journey?

The real trick to using any method is like playing golf. You know the target and you know the terrain. There are obstacles, but you know and understand them. You choose the right club for the right moment. I would deploy agile at moments of greatest uncertainty in the early stages of a project. I would link it to risk assessments. The greater the risk, the more likely you are to deploy agile. Simple. And make sure it fits properly into governance so you can monitor, assess and manage up and down the line.

How can organisations ensure that Agile delivers real business value?

If methodologies delivered value then they would rule the earth! On my planet they do not. Value is delivered from humans, by humans, to and for humans. Generally clever, lucky or rich ones. Great ideas can be made better by methods such as agile or earned value management (EVM). Bad ideas just get the accident delivered faster and more visibly. One consolation for those with the courage to do it: fortunes can be saved by early cancellation. But, it’s better to make sure the idea was a good one in the first place.

Editor, Project Manager Today

What are the key milestones you predict for Agile in 2016?

It’s 15 years since the original Agile manifesto was launched, and at that time Agile was very much a development in the software domain. To my mind, the biggest milestone we’ll see in 2016 will be a definitive shift from Agile as a discrete tool of the IT department to Agile as a mainstay philosophy of all business departments. With that we’ll see further developments in training and CPD, with many well respected certification options now available. Plus, organisations will be thinking carefully about wider business challenges, such as ensuring sound governance and rigorous practice whilst remaining Agile in delivery.

How does an organisation get started on the Agile journey?

The Agile philosophy in itself offers a clue as to how to successfully initiate an Agile programme. Agile is a mind-set shift. It doesn’t lend itself well to grand gestures or immediate organisation wide deployment. It’s far better to introduce the concept in iterations – with a small team or a discrete project – and roll what is essentially a cultural transformation out slowly. Identify champions who can lead the process, and don’t be afraid to bring in the experts. There are many Agile coaches, practitioners and consortia out there who can help you and your team to tread the Agile path.

How can organisations ensure that Agile delivers real business value?

In the first instance, Agile has the capacity to allow businesses to move to market in a faster, more innovative way. It allows for trials and iterations, meaning that the business can learn – quickly – from successes and mistakes alike for a leaner, more profitable approach. The cultural benefits are important too, in a business environment where we are finally starting to recognise the importance of culture and behaviour in effective delivery. Contrary to what some believe, Agile actively promotes individual responsibility, transparency and hence accountability, opening the door for a more accurate understanding of what’s working, what isn’t – and why.

www.pmtoday.co.uk

Senior Lecturer, University of Central Lancashire

What are the key milestones you predict for Agile in 2016?

Agile philosophies will move beyond software development and not just be about IT to become more ubiquitous in a wide range of business areas. Our own research, through the Agile Research Network, has identified practitioner challenges in the areas of Organisation, Sustainability, Culture, Teams, Scale, Value and Claims and Limitations (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.infsof.2016.03.003). I believe that during the coming year the focus for Agile will continue to shift towards sustainability, business engagement and transformation in a context wider than software development.  We therefore need to identify, nurture and develop more agile thinkers to instigate and drive such initiatives.

How does an organisation get started on the Agile journey?

Organisations need a clear vision of the direction of travel, then according to Confucius, should take ‘one step at a time’. The Agile community talks about the difference in ‘doing Agile’ and ‘being Agile’.  In terms of ‘doing’ Agile software development and/or Agile project management there are a number of proven approaches, techniques and practices such as DSDM (www.dsdm.org) with knowledge acquired through training and certification. ‘Being’ Agile requires cultural change and is more complex impacting on most of the business functions within an organisation. It requires sustained commitment both ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’.

How can organisations ensure that Agile delivers real business value?

Appreciate that Agile is not a ‘silver bullet’ and certainly not a quick fix. Agile philosophies embrace shared learning and shared responsibility. Both are difficult to achieve in hierarchical or bureaucratic organisational structures. Agile offers flexibility and adaptability without compromise to quality or cost but requires an environment that trusts and respects individuals. This requires different control and reward mechanisms from those usually seen in many organisations. Will higher management rise to the challenge and initiate organisational transformation in order to leverage the many benefits Agile offers? We will continue to research and report back.