News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Software expert on Agile's rise, avoiding project management mistakes

Agile development processes can help mend organizational schisms between IT, software development and users, according to Barbee Davis, project management consultant and author of the new book, 97 Things Every Project Manager Should Know. Even so, she doesn't think that agile processes fit every project and explains why in this interview.

Davis also gives her views on common mistakes in project management and the drivers behind rapid agile adoption in this Q&A. This self-described lifetime Agile and project management scholar also gives career advice on how to achieve excellence and career longevity in project management.

Davis has authored numerous PM and agile books, many of which are standard reading within the industry. Her unique perspective on project management education was a rare jewel in an otherwise routine interview. Davis provides career advice on PM certification and education in this interview.

As a project manager, what is your view on agile?
I am also a huge proponent of agile methodology. But just like I think that waterfall is not the perfect approach to any project, I also believe that agile doesn't exist without flaw. Agile is really the only way to do some projects, but not all projects. But if methodologies can be combined then that can make for a powerful industry tool absent of approach contradiction.

I see some schisms between the world of project management, IT, software development and agile users, in terms of all working together well in the software world. I have an IT background and experience working with and for a number of enterprises and corporations. They have more in common than they realize. Finding a medium for all of these different aspects to interact is key to offering up business worth and ROI.

From your viewpoint as a project manager, why do you think agile is being adopted so widely?
My explanation for the huge rush forward towards agile is that it is, in reality, [a push to better] project management. The Project Management Institute (PMI) was developing best practices in this area long before software developers realized that the methodology was broken for them, and what they needed to do is avoid getting through two-thirds of a project before running out of money.

They found that the new best approach was to directly involve the customer from the get go and keep them on board for the entire project. Whether you are internal or an external customer, what is the most important thing if you could only have one thing done in this project what would it be? So then solution developers would ponder over their response, and bring them back a few weeks later, and present their ideas. Using this method, whatever money is spent has an end product that the customer can see. They know what their money is directly responsible for, what it yields, and most importantly they will have a better idea on what the remainder might cost. So then the developers go off and design another iteration, it coincides with the client's ideas more closely. Through this method, even if you are stopped along the way, you are left with some workable software which will add business value.

Is there a common mistake you see in software project management?
PMs need to pull back and look at projects in a larger framework. As a consultant, I know that you can't just train the project managers. You also need to pull in the people that are making some of the business decisions, like the portfolio people, so that everyone understands what is going on.

If you are going to move to a project management process to get services and the product out in a more timely way with lower cost, then you can't just train those lower level people. You need to train vertically up the stack clear to top, and teach everyone at the same time. No one person can dictate a change in project direction or initiative. Everyone needs to be on the same page and reading the same books.

What preparation should a software professional who wants to move into project management do?
I am a huge believer in certification and continuing the educational journey.

Sure, just because you are certified doesn't mean you can be a successful PM. Sure, you've been trained to be a PMP (Project Management Professional certification), but perhaps you haven't put in enough experience hours to be effective. There is also the CAPM (Certified Associate Project Manager). To sit for CAPM, you can either do 1,000 hours in the field in addition to some educational background, or you can sit for about 35 hours of field training. Once that is completed, you might be ready to take the CAPM test.

People need to know that certifications are not like college degrees; meaning that you just coast on that old degree. You got one in 1942, and the learning and your knowledge of the field is still relevant but not satisfactory for the rest of your life. Certification is much different. You put in the hours reading and studying, get certified and then every few years get yourself re-certified. Remain ing relevant in the field is critical, so you have to take the PDUs (professional development units) required every three years to recertify.

Dig Deeper on Topics Archive

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.