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HF PMP: PMP is agile!

Darya Akbari
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Can one say that PMP is not agile ?


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Andrew Stellman
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That's an interesting question. But I'd ask the opposite question: can an Agile shop fit into the PMBOK(r) Guide framework?

The reason is that the PMBOK(r) Guide doesn't define one specific set of doing things. In fact, just the opposite. It says that you need to select a particular methodology based on what you know about your industry and past projects, the specific needs of the project, the deadline and milestones, etc. It doesn't say that every project needs to include specific things. Instead, it includes things that typically happen on most projects -- and practices that are most commonly found. And remember, the PMBOK(r) Guide doesn't just apply to software: it needs to be general enough so that it can include practices for construction, industrial, civil engineering, electrical and other kinds of projects.

So can a typical Agile process fit into the PMBOK(r) Guide? As far as I can tell, the answer is yes. One hint is that when Jenny and I were working on "Head First PMP", the PMBOK(r) Guide team members on our technical review team repeatedly stressed iteration and iterative development.

One of the strongest points in the PMBOK(r) Guide (ones that is stressed on the PMP exam) is that it really emphasizes collaboration with the stakeholders, and keeping them in the loop on all important decisions. Another thing that it really stresses is responding to change -- and it's very clear that the customers need to be involved in decisions about change.

There are definitely some things that Agile people might not agree with. It may seem very documentation-heavy, and very concerned with contracts. But the PMBOK(r) Guide was developed in a world where subcontracting is very important, and where a lack of documentation or attention to the contract can mean that the company can get sued and go out of business. I've spent a lot of time working in a consulting situation, and even the friendliest clients can turn into adversaries if you don't have everything documented properly. But if you go back to the Agile manifesto, you'll see "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools," "Customer collaboration over contract negotiation," and "Working software over comprehensive documentation". While the PMBOK(r) Guide highly stresses individuals and interactions, customer collaboration, and working software (in the form of deliverables that meet the customer's needs). But it needs to pay attention to processes and tools (since that's what a framework is made of), contract negotiation (because a process is no good if it puts your company out of business), and comprehensive documentation (because it's really hard to build a strip mall or highway overpass without it).


<i>Andrew Stellman<br />Author, "Head First C#" and "Head First PMP"</i><br /><a href="http://www.stellman-greene.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Building Better Software</a> - <a href="http://www.stellman-greene.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.stellman-greene.com</a>
Darya Akbari
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Joined: Aug 21, 2004
Posts: 1855
Originally posted by Andrew Stellman:
One of the strongest points in the PMBOK(r) Guide (ones that is stressed on the PMP exam) is that it really emphasizes collaboration with the stakeholders, and keeping them in the loop on all important decisions. Another thing that it really stresses is responding to change -- and it's very clear that the customers need to be involved in decisions about change.


It's definitely this social process which is important. And PMP does a perfect job here. My point is that PMP is as agile as Agile .
Gian Franco
blacksmith
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Joined: Dec 16, 2003
Posts: 977
Originally posted by Darya Akbari:
It's definitely this social process which is important. And PMP does a perfect job here. My point is that PMP is as agile as Agile .


Do you mean that if a particular software development methodology is applied in combination with PMP, then PMP is as agile as the applied methodology?

Wouldn't this mean that PMP is as waterfall as a Waterfall methodology, if the latter is preferable in a particular project?


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Darya Akbari
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PMP is agile in itself, it's iterative (not waterfall). It's not a dogma and gives you guidelines at hand which you are free to use.
Ilja Preuss
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Joined: Jul 11, 2001
Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Darya Akbari:
PMP is agile in itself, it's iterative (not waterfall). It's not a dogma and gives you guidelines at hand which you are free to use.


It might be agile, as in the dictionary, but I didn't get the impression that it is Agile (as defined by the Agile Manifesto).


The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Darya Akbari
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I suppose that the Agile Manifesto used the term agile in accordance to the dictionary definition . The difference here is that PMP is just not beating the drums about its agility as people from the Agile camp always do.

And interestingly, people who pretend to be agile in sense of Agile are not agile at all. What they usually do is to defend the Agile methodology as dogma which is always bad. Because when you follow Agile as a dogma you are no better then what you try to avoid, namely being dogmatic (or document heavy or whatever you like to call the non-Agile)

Maybe we shouldn't be so dogmatic with agile.
[ December 06, 2007: Message edited by: Darya Akbari ]
Ilja Preuss
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Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Darya Akbari:
I suppose that the Agile Manifesto used the term agile in accordance to the dictionary definition .


Only in the same sense that "Waterfall" is referring to the dictionary definition.

"Agile Software Development" is a *name*, given to a family of software development approaches that share a common set of values and principles. Of course the name was chosen with a purpose, nevertheless it certainly means more than just the dictionary definition.

The difference here is that PMP is just not beating the drums about its agility as people from the Agile camp always do.


What I see Agile proponents beating the drums about are values and principles that are at the core of being Agile. And a lot of them certainly feel rather strongly about them. I'm not sure that that's a bad thing.

To the amount that those same values and principles are not part of *the core* of PMP, it simply isn't Agile - no matter how agile it may be. I'm not sure that that's a bad thing, either.

And interestingly, people who pretend to be agile in sense of Agile are not agile at all.


Now I'm confused. I thought you were saying that Agile = agile, and now you seem to be saying that Agile != agile?


What they usually do is to defend the Agile methodology as dogma which is always bad.


A dogma is "the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from." Yes, that would be bad. And it's not what I'm seeing very often. What I'm seeing is people who advocate a way of doing software that they have seen work better than anything they have tried before, and therefore often feel strongly about.


Because when you follow Agile as a dogma you are no better then what you try to avoid, namely being dogmatic (or document heavy or whatever you like to call the non-Agile)

Maybe we shouldn't be so dogmatic with agile.


I agree that you shouldn't be dogmatic about Agility. I wonder who is.
Darya Akbari
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Originally posted by Ilja Preuss:


I agree that you shouldn't be dogmatic about Agility. I wonder who is.


Who? Think of all Agile evangelists around. For me agile is something everyone of us like to be. It's not that the Agile people invented something new, not at all. In that sense yes agile != Agile .

You should also take one thing into account, and that is: developers tend to cry for specifications and guidance. HFPMP comes right in here, giving recipes for iterative project management.
Ilja Preuss
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Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Darya Akbari:
Who? Think of all Agile evangelists around.


Not a hard task, as I'm certainly one of them. I don't know a lot who are dogmatic, though. Enthusiastic, yes. Very clear about what they think works best, sure. Perhaps even draconic. Dogmatic? I don't see it.

For me agile is something everyone of us like to be.


That's certainly a problem with the name - perhaps even *the* problem. Everyone likes to be agile, so the name "Agile" is hijacked for all kinds of things that don't have anything to do with what the Manifesto describes.

It's not that the Agile people invented something new, not at all.


And nobody I know is claiming that they did. Still, it's quite different to what is done in most projects.

In that sense yes agile != Agile


I don't understand what you mean by "in that sense" in this context.

You should also take one thing into account, and that is: developers tend to cry for specifications and guidance. HFPMP comes right in here, giving recipes for iterative project management.


As do Agile approaches. Not sure what you are getting at here.
Darya Akbari
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My point is that PMP is agile.
Ilja Preuss
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Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Darya Akbari:
My point is that PMP is agile.


Point taken. I can accept that.

My point is that it is *not* Agile. If you disagree, I would be open to further discussion.
Darya Akbari
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Maybe it's not Agile but agile nevertheless. But why should PMP comply with the Agile Manifesto? Other methods do not either and are still agile, so what?
Ilja Preuss
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Posts: 14112
Originally posted by Darya Akbari:
But why should PMP comply with the Agile Manifesto?


Don't ask me, I never said it should.
 
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