I was at a conference recently where a presenter rather astutely reminded the audience that agile project management is agile with a capital A. Simply calling your project planning method agile because it changes a lot is not quite what we mean when we talk about Agile. Agile is one of those buzz words that everyone loves to use without always using it correctly.
First a little brief history. Agile project management design arose as a response to the need for a project management design that works in sync with the fast and ever-changing pace of technology and business. There is not a single Agile methodology; instead, it is a variety of methodologies like Scrum, Crystal, and more recently SAFe® that all share an adherence to the principles laid out in the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Agile Principles.
Here’s what Agile looks like:
One of the critical differences between Agile and say the waterfall method is that instead of waiting for each step in the process to be fully completed before moving on, the project is broken into smaller sections called sprints or iterations and these are reviewed every two weeks. If changes are deemed necessary, they are made immediately. Hence many people consider agile as the more flexible of design approaches and one that accommodates change at a faster rate than other project management styles. Or as PwC Consulting partner Paul Eisenberg says, “agile is a more ‘light-weight way of working, less military’. He says companies adopting agile are removing impediments that prevent it from responding quickly to change.”
Agile’s success at increasing product delivery, managing changing priorities and increasing productivity saw it quickly move beyond the IT function and is now present in all aspects from marketing to legal and operations. Not surprisingly, in recent years, its popularity has jumped in Australia. IAG and Suncorp were early adopters of Agile in the Australian market. In early 2018, ANZ bank rolled out Agile methodologies across its Australian business and technology divisions with all of its 13,000 employees expected to have adopted it by the end of the year. Australian real estate REA group began using Agile in 2010, and the success of that led the then CIO to integrate Agile throughout the entire enterprise.
What does this mean for L&D?
If organisations are all moving towards adopting Agile methodologies they want talent that possesses the required knowledge and expertise. That’s where L&D can jump in and develop and implement learning strategies that provide employees with the necessary skills and capabilities. We know there is a growing demand for Agile coaches and a Deloitte blog post predicts a war on Agile talent in Australia as the demand for experienced Agile talent outstrips the supply. L&D teams must take responsibility for ensuring the learning opportunities they are providing offer the correct skills. For starters, consider the list of seven agile-focused certifications recommended by CIO.com.
Agile and HR
The other area of change is that HR and L&D itself must accept that their professions are changing to meet both the demands of globalisation and the impact of technology. Peter Cappell and Anna Travis examine in detail what this means in HR Goes Agile. Again, I think we need to add to this the question of Agile training for HR and L&D professionals. If we keep talking about how HR is changing, we cannot afford to overlook what that means for HR professionals.
Not sure where to begin? Skillsoft offers multiple Agile courses and certification prep. Start with a demo of one, Agile Principles and Methodologies.
Although I’m talking about Agile, I am aware that while it is hugely popular, it is not the only way organisations manage projects. However, whatever method is used, the impact of digital is tremendous and I encourage you to read Heide Abelli’s, 7 Critical Elements of Project Management Training for the Digital Age. Additionally, we are hosting a webinar, Building Critical Project Team Competencies for Successful Business Execution. Topics on the agenda include are how to better understand the evolution of project management role in organisations today and what is necessary to be an effective project team leader today.
Whatever you do, just bear in mind the following:
“Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.” – Joy Gumz
Rosie Cairnes is the Regional Director for Skillsoft Australia & New Zealand.