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Agile Control

Compliance and governance are becoming increasingly important to the organisation.   Consequently this is changing some of the ways that we work and the processes that we must follow.   It is therefore somewhat timely that Project Manager Today ( ran an interesting and relevant article in their April 2015 edition titled “Agile Control”.

These two terms, “Agile” and “Control” are often perceived as being in conflict with each other. The article argues that this is partly because both are often misunderstood and poorly implemented.

At one end of an extreme, Control can be implemented in a command and control way that is not only anti-Agile but is also misguided.  However, Control that puts in place evidence, processes and documentation that adds value to the business is perfectly in keeping with Agile.

Agile is also often misunderstood, with so many different Agile methodologies available this is hardly surprising.  Perceptions of not having to produce plans or documentation for Agile projects tend to result in projects that are reminiscent of the Old Wild West and misrepresents what Agile is about.

The Agile Manifesto accepts that defined processes, documentation, plans and contracts all have value.  It is not that Agile should ignore these, they are important.  However they should not take the focus away from people & teams, collaboration, accepting change and the frequent delivery of value aspects that ultimately benefits the business.   Control done in a way that supports these aspects of a project is a good thing.

The article focuses on DSDM’s Atern framework (unsurprising given it was written by Andrew Craddock – Technical Director of the DSDM Consortium), which sets out eight principles, the first seven of which are focused on enabling empowerment of the team, these are underpinned by the whole team having the ability to demonstrate control over the work that they are undertaking.

  • Focus on the business need
  • Deliver on time
  • Collaborate
  • Never compromise quality
  • Build incrementally from firm foundations
  • Develop iteratively
  • Communicate continuously and clearly
  • Demonstrate control

The new DSDM Agile Project Framework goes further, by specifically including a number of products that are relevant to governance, though are lighter weight than their PRINCE2 equivalents.

Whilst the article is a little weak on how to best implement Agile Control it does highlight that processes and documentation that provide value to the whole team and not just a few key individuals are those that bring the most benefit and real value.  Arguing that Agile Control are two concepts that are in complete harmony.