Agile in the Midst of a Conventional Project

Agile Applied to Verification

Agile practices can apply to more than just project management approach, or even only to agile projects.  The techniques can help line management functions or used in subsections of projects that are otherwise conventionally developed and executed.  In the next series of blog posts, we will show how these techniques used in the successful delivery of the verification activities of a large conventionally executed project.  In fact, this company only employed conventional project techniques in their operation.

I bring this story to light since I have received many questions (in classes and speaking events) on how to use agile when the company already is entrenched in conventional project management.  Of course, there are many ways to make that happen, none of which involve over night.  However, I hope this story makes it easier to see how this transition can happen and without executive edict.

Application of Agile Techniques

We should be on the look out for any opportunity to make our conventional project management better, that includes borrowing a few items from agile practice.  For example, nowhere does the project manager get counsel to leave the team alone, not talking to them on a daily basis.  Consider for example, the Hawthorne effect or observer effect.  Both of these suggest that the simple process of observing changes the situation.  While the Hawthorn effect has some questions on the validity, many more questions remain from the study[1].

The original data have since been re-analysed, and it is not so clear whether the original results hold up. Nevertheless, the concept has been established – the very fact that people are under study, observation or investigation can have an effect on them and the results.”
(Earl-Slater, 2002)

If the simple act of participating or showing an interest in the team members contribution can change the outcome, is it not prudent to take that participation seriously?  Perhaps the daily sprint meetings are a large contribution to the success of agile.  At any rate, any of the techniques from agile deemed beneficial, easily port over to conventional projects.  Just as this string of blog posts show how agile fits within a conventional project, so too can the techniques fit conventional projects.

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