Light Touch Management Style Information Technology Essay

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. A project is a predetermined effort (having specific start and completion dates) undertaken to create a unique product or service which brings about beneficial change or added value.

The primary challenge of project management is to achieve the project goals and objectives while honouring the project constraints. Typical constraints are scope, time and budget. The secondary and more ambitious challenge is to optimize the allocation and integration of inputs necessary to meet pre-defined objectives. (L. Ireland)

2. Introduction

Traditional project management methodologies grew out of a need to control ever-larger development projects, and the difficulties of estimating and managing these efforts to reliably deliver results. These methodologies based on the ‘Waterfall Model’ (Refer Appendix) process drew heavily on the principles from engineering such as construction management, where the team needs to determine requirements, design and plan for the entire building in order to understand the full scope of the effort and maintain them in an orderly sequence (Hass K.B., 2007). The inadequacy of this process is that in real world situation the activities rarely follow a sequential order; clients find it difficult to complete certain processes completely at an early stage and then move on.

A need arises to identify, track and maintain close relationships with stakeholders and customers to not only overcome pressures of unprecedented change, global competition, time to-market compression and rapidly changing technologies but also to create and deliver customer value. Augustine (2006) defines Agile Project Management as the work of energizing, empowering and enabling project teams to rapidly and reliably deliver business value by engaging customers and continuously learning and adapting to their changing needs and environments. For example Infosys, by using agile approach it has successfully integrated and standardized desktops to provide one technology foundation for the merged business of Promina group of companies and Suncorp. The project was achieved in short time with regular checking process to ensure the project remained on track.

33. BENIFITS AND CHALLENGES OF APM:

Boehm H. et.al. (2005) identified three critical challenging areas that affect the software managers of large scale organisations:

3.1 DEVELOPMENT CONFLICT:

Traditional project life cycles require adjustments to the agile process the reason being traditional activities are focussed on optimising development over a period of time controversial to agility which believes in delivering immediate operational results. Agile requirements being primarily functional and reasonably informal they may or may not work in any systems engineering verification of validation approach.

3.2 BUSINESS CONFLICT

Today’s business processes and infrastructure require almost accurate prediction of future difficult-to-estimate responsibilities. The main problem is that agile does not support the certifications like ISO, CMMI etc because of this organization rating is affected.

3.3PEOPLE CONFLICT

Agile team members will perform multitasking so it is difficult for the managers to assign specific roles to the members. Agile teams must be assembled in agile workspace which demands pair-programming stations, walls for status chart for the team to coordinate and share ideas. Stakeholders may play a different role which is key for the organisation as agile requires onsite customers, customer feedback and interaction, and customer input for acceptance testing.

4. Agile Project Management

The agile development methodologies deal with rapid changes include eXtreme Programming (XP),Crystal, Scrum, Adaptive Software Development (ASD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) and Feature-Driven Development (FDD) (Abrahamsson P., 2003).Generally agile methods promote a project management process that mainly focuses on frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices that allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals. There are many specific agile development methods. Most promote development iterations, teamwork, collaboration, and process adaptability throughout the life-cycle of the project. Agile methods break tasks into small increments with minimal planning, and don’t directly involve long-term planning. Iterations are short time frames that typically last from one to four weeks. Iteration is worked on by a team through a full software development cycle, including planning, requirements analysis, design, coding, unit testing, and acceptance testing when a working product is demonstrated to stakeholders. This helps minimize overall risk, and lets the project adapt to changes quickly. Stakeholders produce documentation as required.. Agile methods are sometimes characterized as being at the opposite end of the spectrum from “plan-driven” or “disciplined” methods. This distinction is misleading, as it implies that agile methods are “unplanned” or “undisciplined”. A more accurate distinction is that methods exist on a continuum from “adaptive” to “predictive”. (Turner, 2004).

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4.1 Agile Management

Agile management technically is used mainly in IT projects or projects which use software programmes as their base. It’s been well known now that software plays an important part in the Project Management practises of now a day, as it plays an important role, agile project management is also becoming an integral part of it. There are various software techniques that management teams are now employing for their Project Management needs, such as CAS (Complex Adaptive System). CAS based agile project management framework is established that prescribes six practises for managing agile development projects. These practises not only help to manage teams as complex adaptive systems but also provide with a freedom to overlay personal leadership styles. For example consider an ant colony which is an example for CAS. Individually, ants have primitive brains yet collectively run surprisingly sophisticated and efficient operations. Using a few simple rules of logic without central direction, they find food, build and maintain their nests, tend to their young, and respond to attacks (G. Anthes). Keeping the principles in mind, the project manager can tune the following practices to match their unique project situation.

4.1.1 Guiding Vision

According to Margaret Wheatley, A project vision translated into a simple statement of project purpose and communicated to all team members has a powerful effect on individual member behaviour.. It is essential for the agile project managers to promote team ownership of the vision by facilitating group discussions that would eventually help the team through difficult decisions about business value and would help them focus and inspired on the ultimate goal. Agile managers guide their teams by defining, disseminating, and sustaining a vision that influences the internal models of individual agents. The Agile Manifesto (www.agilemanifesto.org) created in 2001 by the proponents of these methodologies articulated a core set of values useful in steering this vision.

4.1.2 Team Organising

Agile project managers need to pay lot of attention to set up and organize a agile team to operate within the larger enterprise. Agile project managers need to seek a redundancy of function and posses generalized specialists with skills not only in their specialty areas, but in other areas as well. This would then help in organic team composition and enable adaptability to changing external conditions. If a project demands larger team size, the agile manger needs to organize the project into several small organic sub teams to work in parallel to scale up in size. Organizing a project into organic teams implies a minor interaction penalty in terms of communication and coordination overhead (De Marco). Positive collaboration can be achieved by means of the time-honoured kick-off group lunch, training sessions by sharing personal and professional information and by understanding individual team member’s signals. Also it is vital for agile manager to ensure that the team maintains optimal internal channels of communication while minimizing the effect of an interaction penalty.

4.1.3 Simple Rules

Agile project managers should establish a set of simple, generative process rules for the team. Methodologies usually carry processes, templates, deliverables and rules along with them. These rules become so burden that they are not followed at all. Some heavier processes enforce rule compliance by auditing, resulting in being counterproductive. Team members on APM projects should follow simple rules with their interactions resulting in complex behaviour emerging from the bottom up over time. Throughout a project, the manager identifies practices that aren’t being followed, seeks to understand why they’re not, and removes obstacles to their implementation. For example consider Birds in a group they follow basic rules such as avoiding objects, keeping pace and staying close to other birds .By following these simple rules, group of birds exhibit complex, collective behaviour by flying for long distances and adapting to changing conditions along the way (Augustine, 2006).Also XP practices do not restrict the autonomy and creativity of individuals by providing a simple set of rules.

4.1.4 Free and Open Information

To adapt an agile team information must be open and free flowing. In agile project management information flows freely and team members benefit from the power of knowledge no matter what its source. In the agile arena, information is freed to leverage its power. Collective code ownership encourages everyone to contribute to the project. For instance, Trimble Navigation New Zealand implemented XP practices as fully as possible, as these practices promote open access to information and benefited of working with an accessible in-house customer who was able to be part of the project team.

4.1.5 Light Touch Management Style

In Traditional project management everything is viewed through the prism of control of change, risk and people control (Augustine, 2006).Elaborate methodologies, tools, and practices have evolved to manage an out of control world. But tools fail when linear task breakdowns cannot accommodate cyclical processes and neat schedule demand frequent updating to reflect changing circumstances. So agile managers need to manage their teams with a light touch management style that allows team autonomy and flexibility and a customer value focus without sacrificing control. Skilled professionals don’t adapt well to micromanagement, and tools and techniques quickly reach their limits when not used appropriately. Managers realize that increased control doesn’t yield increased order, accepting their own inability to know everything in advance while relinquishing some control to achieve greater order.

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4.1.6 Adaptive Leadership (Agile Vigilance)

Adaptive leadership employs “systems thinking” to understand a project’s internal forces. For example, events are understood in terms of their patterns, or the common elements that persist in diverse circumstances. The agile manager understands the effects of the mutual interactions among a project’s various parts and steers them in the direction of continuous learning and adaptation (Sanjiv et al., 2005). Double-loop Learning enable agile managers to lead teams adaptively that involves continuous observing and assessing of the effect of the practices on the project and adapting the practices such as getting Plus-Delta feedback and conducting scenario planning for maximum impact and desired results

4.2 Agile Framework

Scott Ambler’s Agile Modelling framework provides a broader framework for creating agile processes applied to software projects. Higher level Agile Model Driven Development (AMDD) “best practices” came into existence when AMDD lifecycle began to combine to describe when modelling occurs on projects such as Architectural envisioning and Requirements envisioning at the beginning of the project or model storming on a Just-In-Time (JIT) basis throughout the project(Ambler,2002). Project managers and senior managers should strive to keep modelling approach as collaborative and simple as possible, by adopting as many of the principles and practises of AM to ease it gradually

4.3 Principles of Agile Management

Agile methods are a family of development processes, not a single approach to software development. Some of the principles of Agile Project Management are:-

Customer satisfaction by rapid, continuous delivery of useful software

Working software is delivered frequently (weeks rather than months)

Even late changes in requirements are welcomed

Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers

Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (Co-location)

Regular adaptation to changing circumstances

Simplicity

Self Organising Teams.

5. Example of Agile Project Management

5.1 Executive Summary

In 2002, Agile competency has started within Mahindra Satyam. It had a strong team of over a 100 consultants who were well trained in diverse skill sets to address various dimensions of Agile product implementation, support and maintenance services. The main focus was on customer delight and success. There are many challenges that an established software organization faces when shifting to Agile. While there is a wealth of information and literature on the topic, much of it is most applicable to small teams working on Greenfield projects. But when contending with several teams, multiple projects and a mix of work – new products, existing products, and maintenance – there is an art to figuring out how to adapt Agile so that it works for the business. The consultants are well trained in diverse sets to address the different dimensions of agile and the team is trained in various product versions including 8.5, 9x and agile e6.

5.2 Overview

Mahindra Satyam is a leading global business consulting and IT services company established in June, 1987. Leveraging deep industry & functional expertise, leading technology practices, and an advanced, global delivery model, we enable companies to unlock their business potential. It provides various services and solutions using agile methodology. Satyam has developed agile methodology to track costs associated in gathering and analysing the requirements, which are the primary cause for a software project to fail. Electronic Training Record (ETR) is a solution developed in agile to maintain and track the training requirements of users in pharmacy industries. Today Satyam is a part of the $6.3 billion Mahindra Group, a global industrial conglomerate and one of the top 10 industrial firms based in India.

5.3 Applying Agile

“Agile requires a great deal of discipline. To succeed, you need to have sound engineering practices and tooling,” said Maples. “Almost immediately, Agile exposes those areas that need greater attention. And how you deploy and structure your data will determine the accuracy and scale of your project.” The first step was to define standards for data descriptions – uniform definitions for different activities and assets across the organization. A single definition for goal story, requirement, user story. This helped to make it easier for teams to understand each other’s work, and allow them to manage dependencies across teams. Next, Satyam made Team Focus the standard management console for all of its delivery projects. Team Focus sits on top of all the various ALM tools and repositories for delivery organization and provides a single Agile “dashboard.” This enabled the teams to immediately begin adopting agile practices without making significant changes to tool support.

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5.4 Agile Planning

To drive alignment between its Agile teams, marketing and product management organizations, and ensure that the work that is happening – sprint by sprint – maps back to business goals, it relies on the connection between Team Focus and its core products to link strategic goals and plan items directly to the requirements, user stories, tasks, and test cases. Agile projects emphasize on working software, which is quite different from traditional software. Traditionally, the success of a project is measured by the functional milestone. In agile projects, however, working software is the final measurement of project status. At the end of each short iteration, a working product is produced and available for review. The main advantage of this is it provides enough time to fix any mistake during the execution of a project before it affects adversely on the project

5.5 Agile Quality

5.6 Result

100% increase in number of product releases per year

Reduced administrative and planning overhead by an average of 15 hours per 3 week sprint

Eliminated 6 days a month of vice president and director time spent reporting – per product group

Increased customer satisfaction by including minor features in maintenance releases

Increased product quality, reducing issues open from release to release by 50%

Increased team productivity through enhanced morale

(Source: www.mahindrasatyam.com)

6. Conclusion

The lack of guidance for project managers of agile development projects has been a gaping hole in the software development community over the past several years. The contrast between the world of agile software development and traditional project management has left many managers wondering what their role should be. By viewing the agile development team as a complex adaptive system and the manager as an integral part of that system, we have begun to develop a framework for managers. This framework of practices is meant to overlay the practices of existing agile methodologies such as XP, and provide clear guidelines for the visionary leadership of projects that use them. The “servant-leader” concept introduced by Robert Greenleaf is the most appropriate way of thinking of the agile project manager. The project can be modified as and when the process moves and can be guided to create the desired outcomes. Despite of being simple agile is a costly process. It needs an organisation with a quality team capable of working independent from the organisation coupled with desired skills and experience and a fully engaged product power;then the project will be lead in a great way.

7. References:

Abrahamsson, P., Warsta, J., Siponen, M., & Ronkainen, J. (2003). New directions in agile methods:Comparative analysis. In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Software Engineering,pp 244-254.

Alleman G.B. (2002). Agile Project Management Methods for IT Projects, The Story of Managing Projects: A Global, Cross- Disciplinary Collection of Perspectives. Greenwood Press / Quorum Books

Augustine S., Payne B., Sencindiver F., & Woodcock, S. (2005). Agile Project Management:

Steering From the Edges.(Vol. 48). Communications of the ACM. Issue. 12. pp. 85-89.

Augustine, S. (2006). Managing Agile Projects. Printice Hall PTR.

David I. Cleland, Roland Gareis (2006). Global project management handbook. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006. ISBN 0071460454. p.1-4″: Project management was formally recognized in the 1950s as a distinct discipline arising from the management discipline.

DeMarco, T. The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management. Dorset House, New York, 1997.

Hass K.B. (2007). The Blending of Traditional and Agile Project Management. (Vol. IX).PM World Today. Issue. V.

Lewis R. Ireland (2006) Project Management. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006.

Sanjiv et al., “Communication of the ACM”, December 2005/ Vol.48, No. 12

Scott W. Ambler (2002). Agile Modelling. Published by John Wiley & Sons , Inc., New York

Anthes, G. Ant colony IT. Computerworld (2001); http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/61394/Ant_Colony_IT accessed on 15-04-2010

http://www.mahindrasatyam.com/services/erp/Agile.asp

8. Appendix

Appendix-1

Model storming Active Stakeholder participation

Test-driven design (TDD) Prioritized Requirements

Iteration modeling Requirements Envisioning

Architecture Envisioning

Executable Specifications Just barely good enough

Document late Multiple models Model a bit ahead

Single source information

AGILEMODELING Source -Ambler (2002)

Appendix-2

Source: http://www.fivelakes.org/images/projectstages.png

Appendix-3

Source: Hass K.B. (2007)

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