When Waterfall and Agile Collide: CA PPM Integration Simplifies Scaling

Today with CA, we announced an exciting new native integration solution between CA PPM and VersionOne that enables tracking of agile and waterfall development projects in a single console. This solution integrates Clarity PPM and VersionOne agile project management to simplify scaling agile initiatives by providing visibility across all development initiatives.

This is important because as agile adoption continues to grow, there has been a natural tension between waterfall and agile initiatives — This solution allows the entire development organization and the business to work together, rather than be at odds with one another.

A trend toward agile

VersionOne’s State of Agile Survey shows a steady upward trend for organizations to practice agile. In 2013, 88% of organizations said they were practicing agile somewhere in their organization, up from 83% in 2012 and 80% in 2011. As this trend continues, so does tension – especially in larger organizations. For some of the 88% where agile exists, it has become the predominant view.

These organizations are working toward scaling agile — not just across the software development teams, but into the business itself. In many cases, agile exists but it is still the exception, not the rule. The PMO members who are trying to select, manage, and optimize project resource investments are facing new challenges synching with the agile teams responsible for delivering high-quality, working software.

From the perspective of the PMO, agile presents two big concerns: lack of up-front planning and loss of management control. Indeed, these concerns are reflected in the 2013 State of Agile Survey as the top-two concerns about adopting agile in general. From the agile perspective, a lack of up-front planning is a good thing. In PMBOK terms, agile relies on progressive elaboration to avoid the overhead involved in adjusting big plans overloaded with too much detail. As for management control, agile promotes the idea that embracing change should give management more control, not less. According to the 2013 State of Agile Survey, 86% of respondents realized improved project visibility as a result of adopting agile.

So why the gap between perception and reality?

It’s a matter of perspective. The PMO concerns are not specific to agile, nor even to a specific team’s adoption of agile. Any PMO experienced with many projects has seen the lack of up-front planning and management control as common causes for project failure. Seasoned PMOs know project success doesn’t come from adopting an ideal process, but is rooted in:

  • Strong project leadership,
  • A clear project vision, and
  • A habit of good communication

What agile teams need to learn is how to demonstrate these characteristics in the way the PMO understands.

This is one reason the Agile Manifesto values emphasize “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.” Unfortunately, all too many PMOs and project teams are embroiled in the struggle over which tools to use for expressing the project vision or for project communication.

The new integration between CA PPM and VersionOne helps get PMOs and agile teams over the tool debate and into constructive conversation. The solution helps the PMO see a high-level plan coming from an agile team. It also helps an agile team turn their tracking data into timesheet data. These simple, loosely coupled data flows can provide your PMO with sufficient data to make program and portfolio decisions, leaving your agile teams with more time to focus on their work. Taking the tools problem off the table is just the first step in fostering more meaningful collaboration between these waterfall and agile groups.

What about you? Have you seen any tension between these two groups where you’ve worked (or perhaps coached)? What was the impact, and how was it addressed?

This entry was posted in Collaboration, Platform, Product Owner, Program Management, Program Manager, Project Manager, Reporting & Analytics, ScrumMaster, Stakeholder. Bookmark the permalink.

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