Agile, PRINCE and the whole 9 yards…

Friday, 02. 10. 2012  –  Category: Project Management

So… big topic, and one which probably provokes more debate than any other in software and web development. Like requirements engineering, although ‘Project Management’ has existed in software design and production for some time, until recently there has been little in the way of standard methods and practice defined purely for web development, which is not surprising really as it’s only been around for a little over 10 years. Even the PRINCE2 stuff, which I know fairly well, needs to be carefully orientated to suit not just web development, but the specific project. Most agencies I’ve had dealings with tend to combine what they consider to be key elements of PRINCE (or a comparable methodology) with ‘specialist’ elements forming a bespoke, fit for purpose approach.

Another issue I have come across recently is the confusing of developmental approaches, such as Agile, with project management processes like PRINCE2. I interviewed someone recently who, when asked, insisted that the two couldn’t coexist (Agile and PRINCE), as there would be a degree of conflict. Project Management and Development Approach are separate activities, which should mesh to provide an appropriate management framework. It’s not a case of paint by numbers and going through the motions. Common sense should prevail. A small, month long project doesn’t justify the time or document paralysis associated with a 50 page PID, while a two year long integration, involving several partners should have identified the ‘Communications Plan’ as a core document.

Regardless of sector, be it games, web or software it’s that ‘soft’ factors that are harder to predict and therefore more difficult to manage. I have known web design companies who will present clients with monochrome visuals early in the design stage in order to mitigate an hours worth of premature discussion around the exact shade of orange to use on the tertiary menu bar. Clients, and people in senior positions, will often make decisions you know are wrong or don’t agree with. No amount of good project management practice will change this. The challenge is to continue with the same degree of enthusiasm and sense of urgency you had when the project stared.

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