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Can Agile Work in a Consulting Structure?

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I recently attended my first PMI global congress and was struck by how many of the ideas presented confirmed my current thinking. I also learned new techniques and angles to consider for the issues I face daily in a non-traditional project management environment.

In John Stenbeck's session, "Agile PM Mastery in 60 Minutes, Guaranteed!" he had a fantastic way of boiling down the essentials and explaining them in a way that traditionally trained project managers easily understand. 

Many agile proponents will tell you that the methodology will work within almost any environment that traditional waterfall methodologies will fit. In fact, there's one comment on my previous post suggesting that the issues that I've described -- like needing faster time to market and the ability to address fluid requirement -- would be addressed by implementing agile.
 
I see a big gap, though: staffing. Agile works best when you have a dedicated team for the life of the project -- or at least the sprint.
 
But many "consulting-structured" organizations rely on their ability to maximize cost benefits by pooling resources. This means assigning one person to two or more projects at a time. That strikes me as a big issue for an agile team structure.

So, in a non-traditional environment with team members who aren't always dedicated to one project, what are your options in terms of attempting to implement agile?  

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

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4 Comments

I recognise the problem. I try to organise projects around expertise, creating a team that can work on a set of projects. Besides appointing a senior analyst representing the business may work, although this is survey not an Agile principle.

Yes it works, when individualistic approach for the backlogs and holistic flexible approach on the resource management is concerned.

Clarity on the resources roles & responsibility and the rate of acclimatization of the resources pooled into the project makes the difference.

Not to me either. AGILE is about executing the projects with the scope and team that are at least fixed for the sprint as you said. However in consulting mode, I really wonder if we could make a backlog or scope freeze for the sprint.

Also consulting is totally individualistic while AGILE preaches the team empowerment and better team utilization.

Possibly each consultant could take all his/her individual points and try to have a look at them as backlogs and try to work SPRINT for himself. I doubt whether it will work.

Not in my experience. In working on agile projects I tend to manage project resources on an iteration by iteration basis. Halfway through each iteration the resources are projected for the upcoming iteration and the resource management pool is constantly changing to meet the needs of the product development efforts.

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