Do We Really Need Agile Project Management and Agile Service Management?

Dorothy Tudor is the author of the TSO publication: Agile Project and Service Management: delivering IT services using ITIL, PRINCE2 and DSDM Atern. For more information on this publication go to ​www​.tsoshop​.co​.uk

The key challenge for every IT manager is to provide reliable, available, innovative, and flexible IT products and services. Amid the mounting pressure to provide ever-faster responses to the growing demands of users and customers, we introduced best practices to our IT function with PRINCE2 and ITIL Service Management over the years. Do we really need more? This year we are told, with renewed vigour, that we need to be ‘Agile’.

Is it all just hype? The Agile movement has been around for eons, it seems. The Agile Manifesto celebrates its 10th birthday this year. Agile was originally an initiative from the developer community, but now there is a renewed buzz, and it’s coming from the management.

In March this year, the UK Institute for Government (IfG) released a report on the state of IT in government. The report, titled System Error — Fixing the Flaws in Government IT, is publicly available on the web and encompasses two strong recommendations: improve infrastructure and be Agile. As a result of this report, all government departments have been encouraged to become ‘more Agile’, with Agile pilot projects being started up in all quarters.

Adding weight to this movement, APMG (The APM Group, based in the UK and providers of PRINCE2 accreditation) and the PMI (Project Management Institute, US-based and providers of Project Management Professional certifications) both recently bolstered their industry-standard accreditations and examinations with Agile Project Management certifications.

Jim Highsmith, IT thought leader and one of the prime-movers in the Agile community, observed three major trends this year:

  • Agile delivery practices are extending to more fully embrace continuous integration, continuous delivery, and the working of developers with the operations resources supporting the live product
  • Agile project management is extending to other non-software projects
  • Changing business conditions are [driving] the need for Enterprise Agility

He cites IBM, MIT, Harvard, and ‘The Economist’, all of whom released CEO/CIO-level reports attesting to these trends.

So the world is exhorting us to become Agile, deliver rapidly and frequently, and yet still give value for money in an accountable way. The questions flood into our heads:

But isn’t Agile inherently risky?  And do you know when it will deliver?

This can be true of some lightweight Agile approaches. However, it is worth taking a look at DSDM Atern. It is a corporate strength Agile approach, which acknowledges that innovative though some projects may be, they must be delivered within budgetary and time constraints. DSDM Atern is a UK-developed Agile approach with a seventeen year pedigree of project use and continual improvement. It is the main approach underpinning the APMG’s Agile Project Management certifications.

But we are a PRINCE2 organisation, and this ties into our programme and portfolio structure. We can’t change…!

You can still use PRINCE2 for projects, enhancing its agility with DSDM Atern. DSDM Atern is designed to fit with PRINCE2.

But what about operations and service support? I have just put all my people through ITIL training!

There is more to successful corporate IT than development projects, and we still need to hand over new products and services into a live environment that is controlled and effective. In order to achieve the benefits of innovation and frequent delivery of valuable products, the IT Service Provider must also embrace the Agile world. In addition to being geared up to frequent releases and even continuous integration of code, they must also be prepared for working with projects earlier than ever before. The recent ‘DevOps’ drive of developers working more closely with systems developers and systems administration is only part of the story.

IT Service Operations begin with Business and IT Strategy. Service Design ensures the infrastructure to support this. Development projects must retain the focus of Service Strategy and Design, and this means involving the right specialist skills from these areas in development projects from the very earliest point, not just during Service Transition at the end. Agile projects embrace the idea of small teams with the right mix of skills and empowerment to drive projects. That mix must include the ITIL Service Management disciplines. As well as ‘DevOps’ we need ‘StratApps — Strategists who work with Applications’.

If this has piqued your interest, take a look at the book, Agile Project and Service Management: delivering IT services using ITIL, PRINCE2 and DSDM Atern, which is part of the OGC portfolio. The book recognises the need for the involvement of Service Management roles throughout the project lifecycle and beyond and also provides a roadmap for working with ITIL and PRINCE2 together in an Agile way.

What are PRINCE2, DSDM and ITIL?

  • PRINCE2 is a widely-accepted standard for project management, owned by the Office of Government Commerce. It is free to use and can be adopted for both IT and non-IT projects.
  • DSDM Atern (Dynamic Systems Development Method) is an Agile framework for user-centred business change that can be used for both IT and non-IT projects and is free to use.
  • ITIL (the IT Infrastructure Library) is a ‘best practice’ approach for IT service management.  Its focus is directly on the provision of support and delivery of IT services. It is free to use and is IT focused.

All three approaches have well-documented manuals of procedure and guidance. They are all supported by rigorous accreditation and examination processes. All have Accredited Training Organisations.

Reposted with permission from the Global Knowledge UK blog.

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