There’s much more to Agile than Scrum and Kanban. As a matter of fact, the Agile label encompasses dozens of various Project Portfolio Management (PPM) methodologies and frameworks, either proprietary or publicly available. While it is always better to have a choice, such wide diversity can be intimidating to a business or PMO considering a switch to Agile: which framework to pick? Let’s explore the options.

Overview of Agile delivery frameworks

XP, RUP, Scrum of Scrums, Crystal, Feature Driven Development, Adaptive Software Development, large-scale Scrum, Disciplined Agile Delivery, Nexus: for the PMO, these are just a few of the management frameworks that make up the large Agile family. But don’t reach for your headache pain relievers yet: let us walk you through some of the most popular Agile methodologies and frameworks.

  • Scrum is a now ubiquitous approach to project management and software development that breaks down projects into two-week iterative sprints in order to better meet customer or user expectations.
  • Motorola’s Six Sigma injects quality control and management techniques into project management to enable timely identification of inefficiencies and defects.
  • Kanban, another widespread framework, takes a visual approach to project management by materializing project workflows on shared billboards to help teams to self-organize.
  • Lean methodologies review processes to track down waste and inefficiencies and streamline workflows.
  • Finally, the Scaled agile framework (SAFe) is designed to help organizations scale Agile practices beyond a single team.

For a more detailed exploration of the landscape of Agile methods and practices, consider going through dedicated learning libraries such as the Project Management Institute’s.

Why it is critical to select the right Agile framework for your PMO

Each of the methodological frameworks mentioned above has its own processes, its own tactics, its own prerequisites, implications, and benefits. This means that they are not equally able to address the specific challenges, pain points or expectations that are driving you to consider going Agile.

The choice of the most appropriate methodology for your project organization really depends on your goals and ambitions. To make the right decision, it is essential to understand what your drivers and blockers are.

Generally speaking, Agile aims to speed up workflows and empower teams to deliver their best work. However, adopting the wrong Agile framework can have the exact opposite result, paralyzing teams and leaving them unable to respond to changes. Hence the importance of making sure you go for the right option.

What to look for in an Agile framework

Making the correct decision will involve taking a number of variables in consideration. The size of the business or organization, the nature of its project work, its organizational culture and management style, and the nature and extent of the change desired are just some of the parameters that come into play.

So, first, it is essential to understand why your organization is turning to Agile: what are the limitations you’re currently bumping into with your legacy PPM methodology, how do you expect Agile to solve the problems and which other benefits you are hoping to achieve, and, importantly, who within the organization is supporting the initiative?

This effort to get the lay of the land will be instrumental in helping you to determine which Agile approach is right for you. For example, Scrum is great for software or technology development projects and for other initiatives with volatile and evolving requirements, including fierce market competition. It is also a good choice for organizations that engage in complex work and that want to accelerate the transition to digital ways of working. But embracing Scrum may require quite a bit of change management effort at first, while newer Agile frameworks such as OpenAgile, which places emphasis on systematic learning and team cohesion, usually do wonders for project teams, organizations, and leaders that are after a simple path to more agile management.

Generally speaking, first-time adopters of Agile methods should give preference to a framework that marks a clear difference from the PPM/PMO methodology formerly in place in the organization (usually Waterfall) in order to avoid confusion and to thwart the human tendency to fall back on the old ways.

How to make the decision

Ultimately, the right solution is the one that provides the most value for teams and end users. After all, a core tenet of the Agile approach is team empowerment. This is why it is recommended to make the choice of an Agile framework a collaborative decision based on rounds of discussion. It is usually a good idea to involve the teams, workers, and managers that will be most directly impacted by the change early on, and to give them the option to experiment with different frameworks.

What more, this should contribute towards building a group of highly-engaged users who may actively support your change management and communication effort to help ensure the success of your transition to Agile ways.

Interested in Agile? Here are a few suggested reads:

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Benoît Boitard

Benoît has been a member of Sciforma's marketing team since 2020. Previously, he had multiple professional experiences, working in particular as a digital strategy consultant, both in emerging start-ups and in large companies. These diverse experiences have imbued him with a global vision of project management in traditional and agile working environments.