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→ Agile Methodology
→ Agile Software Development
→ Agile Program Management
→ Scrum Methodology
→ Kanban Methodology
→ Extreme Programming (XP)
→ Behaviour Driven Development (BDD)
→ Feature Driven Development (FDD)
→ Adaptive Software Development (ASD)
→ Dynamic System Development Method (DSDM)
→ Sustainable Pace
→ Story Mapping
→ Test Driven Development
→ Acceptance Test Driven Development
→ Iterative & Incremental Development
→ Pair Programming
→ Unit Testing
→ Acceptance Testing
→ Agile Planning
→ Refactoring in Agile
→ Burndown Chart
→ Lead Time & Cycle Time
→ Agile Velocity
→ Definition of Done
→ Backlog Refinement
→ User Stories
→ Scaled Agile Frameworks
→ Large Scale Scrum (LeSS)
→ Scrum of Scrums
→ Agile Release Train
→ Is SAFe Agile?
→ SAFe Implementations
→ Enterprise Agility With SAFe
→ What is Project Management Lifecycle?
→ What is a Project Management Office (PMO)?
→ What is Agile Project Management?
→ Importance of Project Management
→ What is a Project Roadmap?
→ What is Resource Management?
→ What is Work Management?
Their organizational values soon spread to other forms of agile management. For example, Jim Highsmith, an original Agile Manifesto signatory, published a book called Agile Program Management: Creating Innovative Products in 2004.
By 2015, the use of agile techniques had ballooned to more than 50% of software development teams.
At the same time, Agile ways of working began to scale up from management of just one to multiple software products that are related or dealing with different aspects of large complex programs.
Inevitably, scaling continued to bundle multiple programs together and manage large, complex programs.
More recently, Agile techniques have spread their wings beyond software development programs into programs within other corporate activities such as HR and marketing.
Businesses are now looking for the transformation of their whole enterprise to make their business agile, seeking coaching, training, and tools adapted to portfolio/program management.
Agile program management is applying agile values and principles to the management, organization, and support of programs covering multiple initiatives, activities, products, and services.
It began with taking the values and principles set out in the Agile Manifesto and applying them beyond their original scope in software development.
Where it gets interesting is when:
Enterprises are finding it makes more sense to use Agile program management (sometimes referred to in an enterprise-wide context as agile portfolio management) to transform every aspect of each department, program, and products.
Not just to form a view of how an enterprise is performing overall, but to align an enterprise’s activities to its strategic plans and to make the whole business agile.
This transformative journey is further empowered by Nimble Agile, which seamlessly integrates with the Agile program management approach. Nimble provides the tools needed to orchestrate and streamline various departmental initiatives and programs, ensuring that they align cohesively with the enterprise’s strategic vision.
Teams can collaboratively plan, execute, and monitor their Agile projects, fostering a culture of agility and adaptability across the entire organization. As enterprises navigate the complexities of modern business landscapes, Nimble acts as a guiding compass, enabling them to realize the full potential of Agile program management and drive their businesses to new heights of success.
What does all this mean in practice? It means changing virtually everything about the way you organize work, including:
Despite that mountain of work, if you use agile program management techniques, it’s easier to implement an enterprise’s strategic plans across its portfolio of departments, programs and products. It may not be easy, but it’s the easiest route to corporate transformation.
For more information on adopting agile at scale, read our article on six scaled agile frameworks and listen to this webinar on Scaling Agile at the Program Level.
Agile Program Management starts with the same four core values and 12 principles of Agile methodology as set out in the Agile Manifesto. Agile program management also espouses lean principles to cut out waste and streamline efficiency.
Program managers strive to deliver three key elements:
How do they deliver these elements through their agile management skills?
Program managers facilitate and optimize the allocation use of resources (people, technology, equipment, etc.) to improve performance and profitability across teams and programs.
For example: LeSS (Large Scale Scrum) considers how many teams are required to develop a product or product group, and that dictates how many people and other resources needed to form and support those teams.
Program managers allocate budgets by considering who is delivering the most value, who needs greater skills, where teams are located, and many other factors.
Teams can plan their work better when they have insight into the resources available to them.
In complex programs, internal dependencies may cause delays. For example: ‘done’ and delivery may be delayed because the testing teams have limited capacity, which increases the waiting time for the product teams.
Visualization tools such as Portfolio Kanban can help to identify and map dependencies for program managers to sequence work optimally, remedy the delaying factors (e.g. divert resources to testing) and improve work flow.
While teams are trusted to organize themselves and deliver their feature or product, the focus for program managers as regards their performance is on the value delivered to the clients and their end users.
Using lean and agile metrics, program managers can measure work flow such as how long it takes to take an idea and put it into the product for delivery to users/clients. They can also keep track of performance by monitoring burn down (or burn up) rates of delivered value or the product backlog.
Kanban is a great tool for identifying improvements in workflow, reducing cycle time and increasing value to the customer as most kanban metrics are product/ value-oriented.
Agile program management focuses on delivering business value to all stakeholders, e.g., employees, contractors, and shareholders, plus the enterprise’s customers and end-users. The aim is to deliver a solution that solves the customer’s problem.
Traditional program management is focused on agreeing upfront on what to deliver and then efficiently delivering that at the scheduled time.
Both break down work into smaller bits so it’s easier to keep tabs on progress. The big difference lies in how the work is broken up.
Agile seeks to deliver value right from the start and build upon what has already been delivered and proven to have value. To accomplish that, it breaks work into small, independent, and testable units that provide value to customers on their own.
Traditional’s focus on efficiency means it breaks down work to maximize efficiency which may delay delivery of any value until all work completes.
Because of the way agile program management breaks down work, it can respond to changes as they arise. Work already done is already delivering value, even if you prefer some changes to it. You’re always free to prioritize what gets done next — changing work already done, or proceeding with work to be done — based on the business value you expect from it.
This is in sharp contrast to how traditional program management doesn’t like changes and goes to great lengths to avoid them.
Because the work breakdown is efficiency-oriented, changes to what was originally agreed upon, often render work already done obsolete or in need of redoing, adding to the program’s cost and timeline, meaning the planned product(s) delivery of value gets delayed too.
The key roles in Agile Program Management are as follows:
In Agile, development teams generally decide themselves how to do their work in alignment with these priorities. However, depending on your Agile Scaling framework of choice, you can also find specific roles such as a System or Chief Architect responsible for high-level technical design of a product (suite).
Many Agile Scaling frameworks also define specific coordination roles such as a Chief Product Owner coordinating specific Product Owners (Scrum at Scale)— or the other way around Area Product Owners helping a single Product Owner (LeSS), a Scrum of Scrums Master (Scrum at Scale) facilitating the Scrum of Scrums team, or a Release Train Engineer (SAFe) coordinating the PI delivery by multiple teams.
The ones that Agile companies do follow usually stem from Agile Planning practices and frameworks to scale agile such as SAFe, Large Scale Scrum (LeSS), Disciplined Agile Delivery, and others.
The main thing to note is that these Scaled Agile frameworks promote synchronization of product development teams into a single cadence. If not across the company, then certainly across a product or product group that’s part of the agile program.
For example, in SAFe you’ll find release trains. In LeSS all teams in all product areas follow the same cadence. In SAFe you’ll also find guidance on quarterly Program/Product Increment Planning and how that follows from the planning at more strategic levels — all the way up to the business owner or top management.
For more on planning, read our article on Agile Planning.
There is a growing body of methods and frameworks that help enterprises with agile program management. Some of them are:
Having an easy-to-use system to find information and track value delivered is essential for program managers.
Kanban and other agile tools that can link the strategic portfolio/program level objectives to the day to day work in teams will help them see obstacles and dependencies restricting the flow of product and value to the customer.
There are many to choose from, but our very own Nimble Enterprise supports all of the tracking of the programs and initiatives in your enterprise!
Here are some of the common pitfalls in transforming your enterprise into agile ways of working:
Dave Thomas, one of the original attendees at the Agile Manifesto conference, says starting agile working is extremely simple. You take the following four steps:
For Agile Program Management, these steps include actions such as:
You now know what agile program management can do for you. And you may be raring to go, or you may be hesitating a bit when you think of the complexity of the road ahead.
Just remember, whatever the size and scope of your programs, every journey starts with a single step. And pivoting from traditional to agile program management is no different.
The trick is to keep taking steps.
And to heed David Thomas’ advice about what those steps are and to always favor the path that makes future change easier.
So, get going, and book your ticket for the journey to an agile business by taking your first steps in adopting agile program management. Ready to embark on this transformative journey? Sign up now for a FREE trial and experience the future of enterprise agility with Nimble Agile.
A program is a large-scale organization initiative that is focused on delivering benefits, whereas a project is a comparatively smaller initiative focused on delivering a specific output.
Agile Program Management is the process of managing a program using Agile methods and practices.
Compared to Traditional Program Management, Agile Program Management focuses more on outcomes over outputs, internal and external alignment, and collaboration with stakeholders.
Program Management is an process that oversees the delivery of large-scale initiatives. Meanwhile, Portfolio Management is the process of allocating resources to enable those initiatives.
Some examples of frameworks that can assist in Agile Program Management include Kanban, Scrum, Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Disciplined Agile, and Scrum at Scale (SaS).
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