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Agile Project Management – a temporary trend?
Study / 21 December, 2015
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Head of Competence Center, Project and Process Management
Thomas Mann is Head of the Competence Center Project and Process Management and has worked at Frankfurt School since 2004. His work focuses on the conception and realisation of national and international company-specific certification courses.

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Project-based working is continuing to grow across countries and sectors – a trend which has been observed for a long time. It is intended to promote efficiency and target-oriented actions by employees. Project management approaches have also gained in importance due to this change. It’s no longer just classical methods that are widely used. There are other, new approaches, including Agile PM. But what exactly is agile project management and what’s so new and different about it?

 1. Agile project management is not new.

The approach of agile project management (PM) has arrived in Europe. But it isn’t actually new. Agile methods were in use for software development in the United States as early as the 90s. Agile means “mobile, flexible” and therefore perfectly suits the fast-paced IT industry, where you can see the origin of agile PM.
Currently the advantages and disadvantages of agile methods used in other areas are being discussed and weighed up again. That too isn’t new. We know the transfer of approaches to other organisational structures, sectors and countries, for example from lean management, which arose from the Toyota production system in Japan.

 2. The focus of agile project management: Self-organisation of teams

First and foremost in the agile PM method is the self-organised team. It relies on the basic needs for autonomy and the quest for self-determination, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or Deci / Ryan’s self-determination theory. This team role goes together with a very regular, definitively planned feedback – which possibly falls rather too short in projects organised differently.

3. Prerequisite for the implementation of agile PM

The use of agile methods for medium and smaller projects undoubtedly demands that a company, i. e. on the one hand, its executives and on the other hand, its organisational structure, allows this. For this it needs promoters of agile PM, an agile culture, employees who know when, where and how to use agile planning. And that’s the key point: it’s probably not so much a question of replacing classical PM, but it’s important to recognise when it makes sense to take up its methods to implement projects more efficiently or in a more targeted way. The result will be hybrid approaches adapted to the respective corporate organisation. That’s the success factor of agile PM.
When, why and how agile PM makes sense depends on various parameters. To appreciate this, one must get to know agile PM, undergo training and eventually implement it. Then your company can be agile, new methods can become established, and agile PM will certainly not be a temporary fad.
In 2016 Frankfurt School offers further training with a blended learning approach to agile PM; in spring 2016 the brand new web-based training from efiport  will be available. As an introduction to the subject, here is a short video of Mr. Agile and Mr. Waterfall.