This article is aimed at addressing a question I followed on a discussion group asking which is better between the PMI PM BOK and agile scrum. The short answer is none as they addresses different things and can be complementary to each other.
Before giving a detailed answer let us first establish a foundation for understanding what the PM BOK and scrum agile are.
The PM BOK is the project management body of knowledge by PMI. It defines the standards and guidelines for project management, establishes procedure, and defines the inputs, tools, techniques and output set out in about 47 processes. These 47 processes are then explained in about 10 knowledge area. The PM BOK defines a project governance or life cycle frame work that divides a project into five phases or process group of Initiating, Planning, Executing , Monitoring and controlling, Closing. This frame work provides a governance frame work which by itself is repetitive and iterative because of the element of Monitoring and controlling process that allows you to manage changes to the project throughout the project life cycle. More of this latter.
In itself the PM BOK is not a methodology for project management, but it defines different standards, input, tools, techniques and a governance structure to project management and several methodologies for different project management knowledge area like the critical path method and the critical chain methods for schedule estimation.
The schedule plan is not a project plan but a subset of the project management plan. The project management plan is the sum total or aggregation of all the plans created during the course of the project. There is no way such a document will be created and completed without some iteration, review, updating initial documents and managing changes formally or informally throughout the lifecycle of the project. In OGC ‘’ Managing Successful Project”. This aggregated plan is known as the Project Initiation documentation (PID) which is developed throughout the entire life cycle of the project. The OGC Managing successful project describes a Project governance frame known as ‘’Project In Controlled Environment version 2 (PRINCE2).
PRINCE2 is a process –driven management methodology. It is based on seven principles, seven themes and seven processes. The seven principles are: Continued business justification, learn from experience, defined roles and responsibilities, manage by stages, manage by exception, focus on products and tailor to suit the project environment. The seven themes are business case, organizations, quality, plans, risk change and progress.
PRINCE2 is a structured approach to project management. It provides a method for managing project within a clearly define frame work. PRINCE2 describes procedures to coordinate people and activities in a project, how to design and supervise the project and what to do if the project has to be adjusted, if it doesn’t develop as planned. In the method each process is specified with its key input and outputs and with specific goals and activities to be carried out which gives an automatic control of any deviation from the plan.
Taken with the PM BOK you have a complementary approach because they complement each other, what is lacking in PM BOK will be provided by PRINCE2.
Agile Management or agile process management or simply agile refers to an iterative incremental method of managing the design and build activities of engineering, information technology and other business area that aim to provide new product or service development in a highly flexible and interactive manner: an example is its application in Scrum, an original form of agile software development.
Scrum started as a product development methodology for software development. It approach is the rugby approach , as the whole process is performed by one cross- functional team across multiple overlapping phases, where the team tries to go the distance as a unit passing the ball back and forth. (In rugby football a scrum refers to a tight –packed formation of players with their heads down who attempt to gain possession of the ball). The idea is to move together in limbo while passing the ball back and forth until the goal is reached that is the idea of scrum.
Hence a key principle of scrum is its recognition that during product development, the customer can change their minds about what they want and need (often called requirement volatility) and that unpredicted challenges cannot be easily addressed in a predictive or planned manner, as such Scrum adopts an evidence based empirical approach- accepting that the problem cannot be fully understood or defined, focusing instead on maximizing the team’s ability to deliver quickly, to respond to emerging requirements and to adopt to evolving technologies and changes in marketing conditions.
In the following paragraphs we will look at the differences and relationships between traditional project management and agile methodology.
Adaptive vs Predictive
Development methods exists on a continuum from adaptive to predictive. Agile methods lies on the adaptive side of the continuum. One key of adaptive development methods is a rolling wave approach to schedule planning or the progressive elaboration which identifies milestones but leaves flexibility in the path to reach them and also allow for milestones themselves to change. The PM BOK defines a rolling wave plan approach to project management. In which a planning horizon is defined for details about a particular phase or stage must be established as we approach that stage so at the beginning of the project we may not necessarily concern ourselves with the detailed plan for a future stage of a project but only highly level plan, the details will come as we approach the phase or stage.
Adaptive methods focus on adapting quickly to changing realities when the need of a project change an adaptive team as well changes. The further away a date is the vaguer an adaptive method is about what will happen in that date. An adaptive team cannot report exactly what tasks they will do next week but only which features they plan for the next. An agile method of project management will be more adaptive than other methods because agile methods is built on adaptability and flexibility.
Predictive method, in contrast focus on analyzing and planning the future in detail and cater for known risks. In the extremes, a predictive team can report exactly what features and tasks are planned for the entire length of the development process. Predictive methods rely on effective early phase analysis and if this goes very wrong the project may have difficulty changing direction. Predictive teams often institute a change control board to ensure they consider only the most valuable changes.
Iterative Vs Waterfall
One of the difference between agile and waterfall is the approach to quality and testing. In the waterfall model, there is always a separate testing phase after a build phase , however in agile development testing is completes in the same iteration as programming for software development.
It should also be well noted that the Deming cycle which is also known as the PDCA cycle defined essentially in all project management methodology, service management, and quality management defines is an iteration process. However this iteration process is ongoing which consider a separate process.
However in an agile environment because testing is done in the same iteration –which develops a small piece of the software, user can frequently use those new pieces of software and validate the value. After user know the value of the updated piece of the software they can make better decisions about the software’s future. Having a value retrospective and software replaning session for each iterations, helps the team to continuously adapt it plans so as to maximize the value it delivers.
In a waterfall method testing is not done in the same iteration as programming.
It should be note therefore that the obvious difference between the two traditional PM and agile is not a difference per se but a kind of maturity from one methodology give rise to new methods both in project management and product development. As can be seen below.
Fig 2: Waterfall vs Agile
The new method is called Agile.
In a world where change is everything, and technologies becomes very disruptive, it is very important that Organizations can respond very fast to the changing technology and business landscape hence agile is born.
Agile therefore addresses the problems of:
· Disruption and change
In a way that is different from traditional PM. So that we can respond to the business and client needs differently.
PMI in the diagram above had to draw a road map to agile from the traditional PM and also OGC/ AXELOS had to draw the road map and called theirs PRINCE2 Agile.
Scrum that was discussed above is one of the Agile Methodologies and there are more.
Managing Successful Projects OGC 2009
A guide to Project Management body of Knowlege PM BOK, 5th edition
A guide to Scrum Body of Knowledge SBOK, 2016 Edition