What is the potential of Agile Project Management for the development and humanitarian sectors? This article investigates the compatibility between Project DPro and Agile PM.

The extent to which Agile PM could be useful in the humanitarian and development sectors remains largely unexplored. Originally conceived as a solution to problems presented by the traditional management of projects in software development, Agile has expanded to other sectors, and, in theory at least, can be used in any context.

Agile’s central premise is to deliver working functionality on a regular basis through fixed work periods called timeboxes. Work is prioritized according to what aspects are essential and what activities are less necessary. So, rather than waiting until the very end of the project in order to deliver business value, each timebox will result in completed work which is ready for operational use.    

Since Agile works by delivering value on a regular basis, the ramifications of having to stop work at short notice are lessened. This is favorable in situations such as the current coronavirus crisis.

The International Development sector is an umbrella for myriad different project types. Moreover, context plays a huge role in whether development projects could be Agile. But let´s take a look at Agile’s core principles:

1: Focus on the business need

2: Deliver on time

3: Collaborate

4: Never compromise quality

5: Build incrementally from firm foundations

6: Develop iteratively

7: Communicate continuously and clearly

8: Demonstrate control

Nothing here is startling at odds with the way in which Project DPro operates. If you rename the business need to something more apt, there is little new to the Project DPro project manager in either the first five or the last two principles. Principles five and six clearly resonate with software development, but again, depending on context, do not contradict the goals of ID projects. Project DPro also seeks to create a firm foundation for the project to come; while “develop iteratively” might be difficult in some situations, but incorporates the idea of evolution and flexibility which many development practitioners will find appealing.

The above provides but a starting point in the analysis of the compatibility between Agile and Project DPro. We´d like you to get involved in the discussion. Please leave your comments or questions, and we´ll use them for the basis of future articles.

To begin with, take a look at pages 38 and 182 of the Project DPro Guide, which discuss Agile in the context of Project DPro. You can download the guide here.

Oliver Carrick

Oliver Carrick

Oliver is a part-time consultant who contributes to PM4NGOs as the PMD Pro+ Program Manager. He is a British academic, Project Manager, author and consultant living in Ecuador. He currently resides in the Galapagos islands where he is a Professor and department head, and also manages a program of community outreach projects. Oliver holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management, an MSc in Project Management, and a PhD in International development. He is also PMD Pro Level 2 and Program DPro certified. Oliver is a PMP and a PRINCE2 Practitioner.

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