11 Jul 2016
What does a PMO need to know about Agile?
by Melanie Franklin
There are several significant differences between waterfall and agile projects, which impact the elements of the project that the PMO should track to get the best possible picture of what is actually happening.
Difference 1: Criteria driven not requirements driven development
In waterfall projects, users and stakeholders are consulted for their wants and needs, leading to a specification of the agreed solution. These requirements are organised according to the technical logic of how they link together to create the end deliverable.
Reporting tracks that all requirements gathering workshops and meetings have taken place.
In agile projects, the end solution is not defined up front. The emphasis is on defining the problem to be solved and then experimenting with possible solutions until the best ideas emerge. The control provided by a signed off specification is replaced by an agreed set of success criteria. As long as these criteria met, the solution will be ‘fit for purpose’ whatever features it contains.
Reporting tracks that there is a consensus between the project team
Difference 2: Deliver on time, not deliver when all work completed
In waterfall projects, the completion date is set by the number of requirements and when these can be completed by.
Reporting tracks completion of each activity against its expected start and end time and identifies if projects are running late. Action is to reduce activities later in the plan, often have the biggest iimpact on testing activities as these are at the end of development.
In agile projects, time acts as the constraint so the business can specific how long they are prepared to wait for the outputs from the project, and the number of features and the amount of functionality that can be delivered is crafted around this.
Reporting tracks how much of each deliverable has been created, with the contingency that only 60% of the available time is dedicated to the minimum requirements, so if work runs late there is a guarantee that at least the minimum will be delivered.
Difference 3: Collaboration with the business throughout the project, not just at key points
In waterfall projects, there are times when the project team and the business will need to work together e.g. requirements gathering and testing. However, a lot of the project work is done in isolation from the users, as the project team design and develop each of the requirements.
Reporting tracks completion of activities against the plan.
In agile projects, there is daily communication between the project team and the business, without which delays build up. The project team are reliant on feedback about priorities and the usability of what they are creating.
Reporting needs to track the level of engagement, any restrictions on getting access to the right business viewpoints and the amount of feedback that is being provided.