Does Agile Programme Management Exist?

AgileScalesThe more I search for articles about scaling Scrum/Agile to programme level, the more I realise how little information there is available. I’ve therefore decided to share my experiences and thoughts in hopes to get the conversation started.

Scrum, Lean Software Development, Extreme Programming (XP) and Rational Unified Process (RUP)are all aimed at a project-level. Fact.

Scrum, XP and RUP can scale to accomodate multiple teams working on one project. Scrum and XP can also scale quite easily to accomodate one team working on multiple projects.  Lean can scale to accomodate one team working on multiple projects plus Business As Usual.  But, NONE of these approaches are designed to manage portfolios and NONE of these approaches are designed to manage programmes of multiple projects being delivered by multiple teams.

So, the following questions are justified:

  • What is Agile Programme Management?
  • What is Agile Portfolio Management?
  • Is it possible to efficiently and effectively manage a Programme of Software Development Projects in an Agile way?

I firmly belive that there is such a concept as Agile Programme Management.  I don’t think it is a million miles away from a project-level implementation of Scrum, however there are a few key differences/additions required to help it scale.

Some of the key challenges shared by Programme Managers, Portfolio Managers and Product Managers responsible for multiple, loosely-related projects are as follows:

  • Limited face-to-face time with senior managers & decision makers
  • Identification and management of cross-portfolio dependencies
  • Identification and management of cross-portfolio risks
  • Consolidation of multiple release plans
  • Consolidation of multiple product backlogs
  • Cross-team dependency management
  • Programme-level risk management
  • Programme-level resource management
  • Programme-level financial planning (Capital Budget/Operational Budget)

Without effective management, it is very easy for Cost, Risk and Complexity to increase exponentially as the number of Projects, Teams and Stakeholders increases.  By embedding Agile ideals at a programme level, it is possible to reduce programme complexity and risk.

My experience to date also suggests that by implementing Agile Programme Management practices, one can further- increase agility, ROI and overall reliability. Bonus!

For more information on how Agile Programme Managemement can further increase flexibility, output and value creation, read on: Agile Programme Management Increases Flexibility

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One comment

  1. Really enjoy your blog, lots of great material. I too am doing Agile Program Management and make up quite a bit as we are going along, you site has given me many great ideas. Our Program Management consists of multiple products with multiple releases for clients being developed by one team. We have releases going out every sprint for different clients. One of the biggest challenges we face and where I have leaned on traditional resource planning, is queuing client projects with fixed contracts, 1, 2 and 3 months out. We use a capacity plan to determine how many people will be available for the project based on a high level LOE in hours. It is a best guess often and requires constant attention from my ScrumMaster team. Often times we are asked to compress schedules so our financials look more appetizing for our parent company. We are somewhat victims of our own success,, our team always delivers and management expects this miracle every quarter! I wrote a post a while back called Revenue vs Sustainable Pace – can they co-exist? Where Program Management has played a pivotal role is standardizing metrics, providing visibility into pipeline, sequencing projects, resources and costs.

    Look forward to more posts on this topic and what I can learn from your experiences.

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