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PMI vs. Agile, what is different, and why should we care

The PMI people don’t seem to stop trying to “guess” what Agile is. Guessing is the right term, because anyone with more than a few hours experience in Agile software development can see their cluelessness from afar!

Take this article by Lynda Bourne DMP, PMP (no, I’m not making those TLA’s up, she uses them). She says that Agile is different from waterfall because:

  • The need for robust change management and configuration management to track the evolution of the Agile project
  • The critical importance of developing the correct strategy and architecture at the beginning of the Agile project

Someone that says that in Agile project management you need “robust change management and configuration management” probably does not even understand what those are, let alone Agile. Hear me out: Change Management is not needed in Agile, Agile *IS* change management. Take Scrum for example, the whole idea with Scrum is to provide a framework for accepting and managing changes. Scrum *IS* change management. To say that Agile project management “needs” strong change management is to miss one of the most elementary points of Agile Software Development.

Then comes the killer: we Agile project managers (supposedly) need to focus on “developing the correct strategy and architecture at the beginning of the Agile project”, missing this – Lynda writes – will lead to failure. Only one word: WTF? C’mon Lynda, that is probably the largest mis-conception of Agile Project Management that I’ve seen in my (admittedly) short life!

There are thousands of posts about why Agile people focus on “growing” architectures rather than “getting them right up-front” (aka BDUF). Please read up, just google for Agile Architecture and you will find many articles that explain how in Agile we look at Architecture development (here’s an example link).

There seems to be a lot of discussion happening in the PMI circles about Agile, but PMI people need to understand that the practices they’ve developed for building, acquiring companies, etc. don’t all apply to software. PMI people should first learn about software and then Agile. Trying to bypass software and going straight for an Agile take-over will only get us (the software industry) another 10-years back in time and lose so much of the evolution we gained with the Agile movement.

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