Project Governance Determines Agile Success

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Ole Jonny Klakegg‘s said that governance is the alignment of projects with the organisation’s goals, and, above all, governance is about creating value.

For Mint, the biggest drive in agile is to provide our customers with real business value in short phases (iterations) of time. This ensures that project deliverables adapt to changes in organisations, that potential issues are picked up immediately and that all project stakeholders are constantly aligned.

To understand the biggest differences between traditional project governance and agile governance I refer clients to the value statement in the Agile Manifesto:

Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools; Projects are accomplished through people. Process and tools may help people, but they do not get the work done. Agile projects put a very heavy emphasis on teamwork. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentations; It is working software and not documentation that deliver high value to customers and users. Any documentation that is created should be tied directly to the value it creates for the customer.

Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation; Trying to force the detailed solution information out during the contract phase is unrealistic and unproductive. Agile teams prefer to expend energy pulling in the same direction as the customer rather than expending energy opposing the customer.
Responding to Change Over Following a Plan; While top-down (waterfall) methodologies can work for technology projects, they do not respond to change very well.

Agile Need to Know’s

From my experience working with the Agile methodology there are four concepts that need to be understood upfront to ensure a truly Agile approach to project management; approval, monitoring, perceptions, and lenience.

It is vital to tie approval and ongoing monitoring in with the agile methodology, keep documentation as lean as possible and understand that the detail of requirements and solutions will emerge over time. Hence the requirement to work in Sprints (iterations).
From working with different companies and team members it has also become clear that different perceptions exist regarding agile governance, as people view the process according to their own experience and preferences.

No matter the perception, however, a crucial realisation to ensure a successful agile project is understanding that the success of the project is not just the responsibility of a project manager, scrum master or product owner but lies with the entire project and development team. Agile is about team collaboration and at the end of the day the entire team will be responsible for the success of the project.

Organisations can also not be lenient when it comes to governance and need to ensure that the rules stipulated are always applied no matter the size of the company, status of an employee or situation. Rules and expectations should clearly be set out and documented before the start of a project. To ensure that objectives are met, these rules, should be followed and expectation constantly evaluated to achieve success.

Agile cannot be effective if governance customs and practices are not aligned with the way you work. Governance should support Agile, Agile shouldn’t be adjusted to accommodate governance requirements.