“Agile” Project Management Certification

Monkey see, monkey do.Well, its finally happened… the Project Management Institute has given in and is creating an “Agile PM” certification.  What a mess.

I think far too many people out there fail to understand the difference between project methodologies and development approaches; hence the reason why we are seeing an “Agile PM Certification” and people talking about “Agile Project Management” – when there isn’t such a thing.

Its like saying that there is “Waterfall Project Management” or “Software Development Life Cycle Project Management”.  These are just ways to approach the development of your deliverables; they are not project management methodologies in their own right (although the methodology needs to be adjusted to the needs of the development approach).

Furthermore, by raising a single development approach to the level of project methodology, we have hamstrung the possibility that people can choose multiple development approaches – depending on what best suits the needs of the various elements of the project (or even sub-projects), teams and customer requirements within the overall project/program structure.

Often the same project management methodology (adapted to the deliverable development approach) can be applied throughout – but highly structured sub-projects may benefit from a waterfall approach, while others may benefit from a more dynamic process such as Agile, iterative development and rapid prototyping.  Still others require a structured design, test and deployment approach such as SDLC.

To raise the development approach to the same level as a project methodology not only mixes apples and oranges, it also ends up breaking the project – because the real objectives of project management aren’t being met.

Developers are concerned with developing their deliverables within the context of the requirements; Project Managers are concerned that the development team is completing that task within the constraints of time, cost and quality.  While the two groups overlap, there are also many distinct boundaries and priorities between them as well.

Unfortunately, the protectors of the project management body of knowledge have finally been harassed enough to hop onto the all-singing-all-dancing “Agile solution” to everyone’s problems; we saw this with SDLC, and rapid prototyping, and now its going to happen with Agile.

Lets face it – the project managers cant get rid of the developers (nor should they) and their coding standards, source safes, module libraries, etc.  Nor should the developers invest so much time in trying to get rid of the project manager and project management.

It’s a complimentary relationship – and instead of investing time on working together and reinforcing each others weaknesses in approach, they are once again trying to do it alone.

We are stronger together than apart.

Author: Stephen Holton, PMP, CISSP, SSGB, ITIL, CD

After completing over twelve years service in the Canadian Armed Forces, Stephen moved to private industry where he was employed as a Director of Information Technology, Director of Operations and CIO for a number of private sector companies before finally electing to become an independent consultant in 2000. Since then he’s served as a management consultant, project/program manager and business analyst/solution architect in a number of industries and organizations - including a big-5 consulting firm. These industries and organizations have included the airline, railway, telecommunications and banking industries, the Canadian and US Governments, as well as mandates in Brazil and Bermuda. Presently Steve lives in Ottawa, Canada.

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