Book Review: Agile Project Management: A Mandat for the 21st Century

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Karen R. J. writes, “[T]he moment has come when it is necessary to admit that we (the program/project managers, business customers, product architect/designer and other stakeholders) don’t know the solutions to these problems… and that we” – our methods. Our leadership styles, assumptions, and our habits – are part the problem.” In her book Agile Project Management: A Mandat for the 21st Century, White explains.
This book is not intended to be an exhaustive guide to agile. White’s goal is to “connect the dots” between agile practices, project management, and the business imperatives that require us all to think about how to manage projects in uncertain times.
I was expecting to read a book about agile, but White is very measured and clearly outlines where projects will benefit and where they won’t. She writes that agile techniques complement the traditional techniques an organisation uses.
My biggest concern with agile project management is that it does not work in an environment where everyone is present. Agile teams work closely together and have daily stand-up meetings. She writes:
The project manager and all members of the project team should be able to coordinate their efforts. However, many teams do not share a continent or office space.
White briefly touches on managing distributed teams within an agile environment. She says it is possible using technology to create virtual spaces for discussion and collaboration. She concludes, “To date, there are very few examples of companies that have successfully used agile project management with a distributed team model.”
This book is useful for convincing people to try agile, despite the difficulties of managing remote workers. A section on managing resistance and cultural change is well-written.
I would have loved to read more about how to bring the rest of your organisation along when you make the leap. Although there is a page about how traditional budget planning doesn’t suit agile, there is not much information on how agile can work with corporate bureaucracy and get them to change.
There are also useful templates like the change management plan. It’s quite short at just over 100 pages. However, there is still room for a chapter on measuring in an agile environment. White points out that tools such as earned value are not as useful in this type of project than accurate costs and a complete schedule.
The final chapter examines the changing role that agile methods play in managing future projects. Agile could be a solution for companies facing future challenges, given the complexity of organisations and partnerships with suppliers, increased levels of uncertainty, and global teams. Only if they can make it work.
This is my first book review that I have done entirely on an iPad. The book was also read on an iPad.