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Book Review: The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility

Title: The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility
Author(s): Michele Sliger and Stacia Broderick

Rating: 4 Stars   (more info)

Overview:

“The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility” is a book that explains Agile software development to traditional project managers by relating the PMBOK1 guide ideals to agile practices including similarities, overlaps, and differences.2

I first became aware of the book because it is on PMI’s recommended reading list for the PMI-ACP exam. I did not read this book while preparing the for ACP exam and wanted to determine it’s worthiness after the fact.

The book is a little dated3 but does a wonderful job of fulfilling it’s primary goal — explaining Agile to a traditional project manager (TPM). I would recommend the book to anyone who is a TPM, or interacts with one, on a regular basis.

The book contains some good Agile material and advice, but nothing that can’t be obtained in more detail from other sources. It’s worth reading but is not a must-read.

What I DIdn’t Like:

In chapter two, the authors take a stand that the PMBOK guide is free of methodology, and thus the processes outlined are not associated with waterfall. They go on to reference the fact that the project team is responsible for determining what processes are appropriate.

I completely disagree with their assessment and firmly believe the PMBOK guide is the outcome of waterfall-centric and predictive model. I plan to do a blog post, outlining my thoughts about this subject, in the near future.

What I Liked:

  • The book and authors are strong proponents of the Agile Manifesto’s principles and values. This is highlighted throughout the book both explicitly and implicitly.
  • The nine key knowledge areas (Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communications, Risk, and Procurement) are reviewed in depth and shown how they compare to Agile. This is an effective technique in showing the differences between traditional and Agile project management.
  • Iterative and incremental development is discussed in depth and shown how it is different from a plan-driven approach.
  • Emphasis on the importance and performance of self-organizing teams.
  • Great discussion about change, culture shifts,
  • Emphasis on the engagement and education (not management) of project stakeholders.
  • An accurate distinction is drawn between Quality Assurance (QA) and Quality Control (QC), how most QA efforts in software projects are really QC, and how to best engage quality in Agile, and your project.
  • The Risk Management section is very well done and talks about how risks are managed organically in Agile. Overt methods are also discussed and encouraged if necessary.
  • Wonderful discussion about the Project Management Office (PMO) and how they can best serve and Agile project and organization.
  • Showing how the project approval process and project initiation can be done with “barely sufficient” guidelines compared to the more traditional big upfront design (BUFD) process.
  • Two strong closing chapters – Selling the Benefits of Agile (chapter 16) and Common Mistakes (chapter 17).
  • Good appendixes that talk about the various Agile methodologies and artifacts, in addition to decent, readable glossary.

Quotes

  • “In keeping with the idea of minimum process to achieve maximum value, the change control process is streamlined and integrated in the daily routine of agile teams.” (page 61)
  • “Remember that variety in translation is the purpose behind agile, so that it doesn’t become and out-of-the-box methodology.” (page 285)

 

1 PMBOK stands for Project Manager Book of Knowledge and is essentially the definitive source for the PMP certification.

2 Yes, this sentence is paraphrased from the book description.

3 For example, the third edition PMBOK is referenced, and the sixth edition will be out in the third quarter of 2017.

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