The Key to Achieving True Agility in an Agile Environment

Agility is the ability to adapt to changing conditions and respond to evolving needs. In a rapidly shifting, complex organizational environment, greater flexibility contributes to lower project costs and more effective project outcomes. This is achieved by making project management systems more responsive to discoveries, revelations and changes that arise during execution.

Components of greater organizational agility:

  1. Shorter planning windows (more frequent, shorter projects linked together into a cohesive program).
  2. Lighter documentation (made possible by shorter planning windows and hands-on strategic coordination provided by program management).
  3. Increased customer involvement (supported by short projects and program oversight).

Every organization can be more agile but only to the extent that they are willing to plan tactically in the short run and strategically in the long run. The agile approach requires near-term specifics and long-term generalizations.

An organization becomes more agile if the systems that support projects allow for more frequent re-evaluation and alteration of a project’s execution strategy. Increased agility is not simply a consequence of adopting a few Agile project management tools. A project management system is deemed agile based on how adaptive they are to changing conditions, regardless of techniques employed.

Waterfall-style project planning holds organizations back from being more agile. Heavy up-front analysis and documentation result in rigid plans for outcomes long into the future. By the time an exhaustive study is complete, the requirements are already out of date because of technical and market changes.

The solution is Agile program management, which enables the delivery of benefits through a series of shorter projects that are strategically tied together. These short projects allow the overall execution strategy to be regularly revised. Documentation is kept light to support flexible planning. Detailed documentation, such as plans and expectations, is only developed for near-term deliverables and general documentation is only created for long-term outcomes. The combination is a more agile project delivery system that better serves ever-evolving customer needs, emphasizing the short-term without losing sight of the long-term.

Greater agility is within reach of any organization with or without the use of classical Agile software development techniques. Agility comes from having a responsive, flexible project management system.

See the full white paper, A New Trend in Agile – Incorporating Program Management, for more details about enhancing organizational agility.

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