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The Software Project Manager's Bridge to Agility Paperback – May 19 2008

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About the Author

Michele Sliger has extensive experience in agile software development, having transitioned to Scrum and XP practices in 2000 after starting her career following the traditional waterfall approach. A self-described “bridge builder,” her passion lies in helping those in traditional software development environments cross the bridge to agility. Michele is the owner of Sliger Consulting Inc., where she consults with businesses ranging from small startups to Fortune 500 companies, helping teams with their agile adoption, and helping organizations prepare for the changes that agile adoption brings. A frequent conference speaker and regular contributor to software industry publications, Michele is a strong advocate of agile principles and value-driven development practices. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMPR) and a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST). She has an undergraduate MIS degree and an MBA. When not working, Michele volunteers as a grief facilitator for teens at Judi’s House, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children learn how to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Stacia Broderick has worked as a project manager for fifteen years, the last eight in software development. She was fortunate to be helped across the bridge under the mentorship of Ken Schwaber while working for Primavera Systems in 2003 and ever since has helped hundreds of teams the world over embrace the principles of and transition to an agile way of creating products. Stacia founded her company, AgileEvolution, Inc., in 2006 based on the belief that agile practices present a humane, logical way for teams and companies to deliver products. Stacia is a Certified Scrum Trainer as well as a PMPR, a mix that proves valuable when assisting organizations’ transition from traditional to modern practices. Stacia enjoys running, playing classical violin, and spending time with her family.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.



We are dedicated to the use of Agile practices in software development (a.k.a. Agilists), but we didn't start out that way. We began as Project Management Professionals (PMP®) 1 who used more traditional methods in the development of software.

Why We Wrote This Book

We followed the approaches outlined in the Project Management Institute's A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge—Third Edition (PMBOK® Guide) for much of our careers, and in moving to Agile approaches we became more aware of the misconceptions out there surrounding the subject matter of this book—incorrect ideas that we once believed as well. Now as Agile consultants, we continue to hear our clients say that they believe (incorrectly) that if they are to keep their PMP certification and follow the practices outlined in the PMBOK® Guide that they must use a waterfall-like methodology. We also hear the mistaken belief that Agile approaches lack discipline and rigor. And we see the fear and dismay of those who believe that their investment in the Project Management Institute (PMI) may be for naught if they follow the path to agility.

It is our goal to dispel these myths in our book and show that the Third Edition of the PMBOK® Guide does in fact support Agile software development methods and that the investment that project managers have made in the PMI and in the practices outlined in the PMBOK® Guide are still solid and appropriate to pursue. It is clear to us that the PMBOK® Guide is methodology-neutral and supports good project management practices regardless of the approach chosen. Although many are already aware of this fact, we find that there are still many who are not. As PMPs who are now Agile enthusiasts, we feel it is important to also dispel the mistaken notion in the Agile community that PMPs cannot be good Agile project managers. We would like to build a bridge between the two, thus the need for this book.

Structure and Content of the Book

Accordingly, we've put much of the detail concerning this bridging in Part II, where we map the PMBOK® Guide's practices to Agile practices. It is our intent to show project managers that in moving to an Agile methodology, they do not move away from implementing PMI-recommended practices—they simply implement the practices in a different way, making sure that the intent behind these practices remains true. In some chapters you'll find a clear mapping, whereas in others the mapping is more imprecise. This book is intended to be a guide, a way to take the lexicon you are already familiar with and relate it to a new way of developing software. This book will not replace any of the more specific Agile practice books in the market today, and we encourage you to supplement this reading with other books on particular Agile methods (Scrum, XP, Lean, Crystal, and so on).

The next several sections provide a quick preview of the book.

Part I: An Agile Overview

Part I introduces you to the basic terms and concepts of Agile software development. We begin in the first chapter ("What is Agile?") with a look back at the emergence of agile ideas in the history of software development. You may be surprised to learn that even Winston Royce's paper on the waterfall approach recommended an iterative cycle and the involvement of the end user in the whole of the project! From this history we move forward and review the concepts behind the Agile Manifesto and its associated principles, which are the basis of all agile software development frameworks.

In Chapter 2, "Mapping from the PMBOK® Guide to Agile," we look at the history of the PMI and its most famous contribution to the practice of project management, the PMBOK® Guide. We'll examine how the PMBOK® Guide project lifecycle phases and project management process groups can be related to the Agile Fractal. And we'll reiterate again that you can be agile and be in keeping with the recommendations outlined in the PMBOK® Guide.

Chapter 3, "The Agile Project Lifecycle," describes the agile project lifecycle—from release planning to iteration planning to daily planning—and how demos, reviews, and retrospectives at the end of each iteration allow the team to continually improve. This chapter begins the use of terminology and concepts that we expand on throughout the rest of the book.

Part II: The Bridge: Relating PMBOK® Guide Practices to Agile Practices

This is the part of the book where we review each of the PMBOK® Guide knowledge areas and discuss what you used to do as a traditional project manager, and what you should consider doing instead as an agile project manager. As the title implies, we are trying to build an explicit bridge between the traditional and the agile, and provide you with guidance on what tasks and activities you should substitute—or keep.

As it is in the PMBOK® Guide, the knowledge areas are not in any type of chronological order. In both traditional and agile project management settings, you will find yourself doing most of these activities in parallel.

Because there is some overlap in the knowledge areas, you may find some ideas and concepts repeated. We did this intentionally, because we expect many of you to use this part of the book as a reference guide, and may therefore start with any of these chapters in any order. However, to keep the repetition to a minimum, we do use references to other chapters rather than rewrite large sections.

The chapters in Part II include the following:

  • Chapter 4: "Integration Management"

  • Chapter 5: "Scope Management"

  • Chapter 6: "Time Management"

  • Chapter 7: "Cost Management"

  • Chapter 8: "Quality Management"

  • Chapter 9: "Human Resources Management"

  • Chapter 10: "Communications Management"

  • Chapter 11: "Risk Management"

  • Chapter 12: "Procurement Management"

Part III: Crossing the Bridge to Agile

Whereas Part II covers the specific practical activity changes, Part III covers the softer skills of being an agent of change and what this change means for you personally and professionally. Having answered much of the "what" you need to do in Part II, we turn our focus to "how" to make these changes in Part III. From how your role changes, to how you'll work with others who aren't agile, to what to watch out for, we respond to the commonly asked questions of those who are about to cross the bridge. The chapters in Part III complete the main body of the book:

  • Chapter 13: "How Will My Role as a Project Manager Change?"

  • Chapter 14: "How Will I Work with Other Teams Who Aren't Agile?"

  • Chapter 15: "How Can a Project Management Office Support Agile? "

  • Chapter 16: "Selling the Benefits of Agile"

  • Chapter 17: "Common Mistakes"


We've included two appendixes we hope you will find useful. Appendix A, "Agile Methodologies," runs down a number of the software development methodologies that fall under the Agile umbrella. Appendix B, "Typical Agile Artifacts," includes a look at the typical Agile project "artifacts."

Who This Book Is For

Although this book is targeted at software project managers who are members of the PMI, anyone who is doing traditional software project management will benefit from seeing agility presented in terminology to which they are accustomed. We will refer to these long-established methodologies as "waterfall," "plan-driven," or "traditional," all of which refer to sequential, phased, noniterative approaches to software development.

Final Thoughts

We should also make it clear that we are not sanctioned by PMI or any of its representatives. This book is the result of our research, interpretation, and experience. Although we used the Third Edition of the PMBOK® Guide in our studies, we expect that as the PMBOK® Guide goes through further revisions, you will still find the concepts presented here to be relevant.


1. "PMP," "PMI," and "PMBOK Guide" are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Agile and PMI are Compatible! July 21 2008
By J. Deville - Published on
Format: Paperback
Finally a book in the agile series that acknowledges agile and PMI are compatible. As a PMP and CSM, one of my long time frustrations has been too many agile authors create a stereotype of an overly bureaucrat waterfall process being managed by a dictator project manager. That may be a great way to sell their books, but their rejection of sound project management principles has been a disservice to the industry--the classic mistake of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

As the title states, Sliger and Broderick sets out to bridge this divide and does a super job showing how agile management practices fit into the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK). They reinforce this message with extensive quotes from the PMBOK that explicitly address incremental and iterative development. I especially like their chapter summaries which compare and contrast project manager approaches to specific practices under a plan-driven and an agile project. One of their key messages is that project managers should allow the team to focus on the current iteration, allowing the project managers to focus on removing impediments to future work. This is sound advice no matter what development framework you are using.

Sliger and Broderick discussion on how agile is being extended to product and release planning and how it's adapting to interfacing with PMOs and non-agile teams is also very relevant. While agile purest reject such notions, these are issues that my clients are facing today. Sliger and Broderick succinctly summarize the current thinking on agile product and release planning and provide sound advice on adapting agile to meet these real-world needs.

One shortcoming in the book is that the authors imply that agile is the silver-bullet that should always be used. I wished they would have acknowledge that while agile methods are appropriate in many situations; plan-driven methods are the appropriate choice for other situations. (See Balancing Agility and Discipline: A Guide for the Perplexed by Barry Boehm and Richard Turner)

I highly recommend this book and will be adding to our seminars reference lists. It is especially useful to experienced project managers. As the product description (see above) states they often struggle while transitioning to agile. However, I don't think they are doubtful about the approach, but instead are confused by the hype they encounter. It will also be useful to agilest who starting to see through the hype in other books. Sliger and Broderick have cut through the hype and reinforce the point that effective project management principles still apply.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Excellent advice for project managers making the change to agile June 17 2008
By Michael Cohn - Published on
Format: Paperback
This excellent book is targeted directly at Project Management Professionals (PMPs) but will be extremely beneficial to any project manager who is interested in agile development.

After three short chapters that introduce the general principles and activities of an agile software development project, the authors attack the meat of their subject. Each of the nine chapters of part two corresponds directly to one of the PMI's project management knowledge areas. Sliger and Broderick, each an experienced PMP, cover the changed responsibilities of the project manager transitioning to agile. A highlight of each chapter is the small table with columns for "I used to do this" and "Now I do this" that succinctly summarizes the often profound differences between traditional and agile project management.

This book is necessary reading for any project manager making the change to agile as well as for any ScrumMaster or agile coach working on a large projects. The book takes a giant stride toward dispelling the myth that the only role for project managers is to buy pizza and soda and get out of the way.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
An important book June 26 2008
By Bas Vodde - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I saw this book, I knew I had to read it, though I was very skeptical about it. Mapping the PMBOK practices to agile practices, is that the right thing to do? Why would you want to do that? What are the authors trying to prove?

The first chapter already helped me forward and removed some of my skepticism. This book is really what is says it is. It's a bridge for the traditional PMI project manager to understand what the difference is between traditional projects and agile projects and it's written in the language of a traditional project manager, the language of PMBOK. From that perspective, I've come to see this as an smart and important book thatm hopefully, will help lots of trainer project managers to understand what agile development is trying to do and why.

The book start with an introduction by Stacia, who describes her experience moving from a traditional environment to an agile environment and the difficulty she faced of changing the way of working she was used to. An excellent introduction that sets the tone of the rest of the book.

The rest of the book consists of 3 parts (plus some appendixes). The first part is the "standard introduction" part in which Agile development gets introduced, in which the first mapping of Agile development to the PMBOK is made and ends with a chapter on a generic agile lifecycle model, which is a guideline for the rest of the book.

The second part is the main part of the book and is structured around the different chapters of the PMBOK. This part actually maps to the PMBOK even on sub-chapter level, done quite well. Within each of the PMBOK chapters, the authors explain the problems the PMBOK tries to solve and how Agile practices solve the same problems, but in a different way. It summarizes this in every chapter with a comparison between traditional practices and Agile practices.

All the chapters seem to cover all the major agile project management practices. It starts with integration management and discussing how all things integrate together and how changes are managed. From there it moves to scope control and explains the differences between traditional WBS task breakdowns and working in a more feature-based way. Time management is next, covering the different planning cycles in the generic agile lifecycle framework (they introduced in Chapter 3). Next is cost management, and quality management. Chapter 9 covers human resource management and was a really nice chapter in which the authors describe well the difference between traditional project resourcing and trying to work with fixed teams that can actually learn new skills when needed. By this time, I felt the major topics had been covered, but there still needed to be communications management and Risk Management to make the mapping of the PMBOK complete. Here I felt the authors started repeating things that were covered earlier, but thats the risk when copying a fixed structure. The last chapter in the PMBOK mapping is procurement management and this chapter was a disappointment to me. The authors are of opinion that there is not much difference in this area, while personally I would not agree with that. Anyways.

The third part covers "the rest" with the main chapter probably be 13 which discusses about the changes in responsibilities between a traditional project manager and an "agile project manager". It describes in fairly much detail the changes in behavior and even tries to cover how to get past this difficult change and why people would want to go through the change (whats in it for them). Also chapter 15 answers one important question: What to do with the PMO. The authors suggest transforming it into an agile supporting organization which they still call "Agile PMO".

Chapter 16 (Selling benefits of Agile) and Chapter 17 (Common Mistakes) are useful chapters for people who are driving the change. It helps them answer some of the common questions and deal with some of the resistance. These chapters conclude the book.

In many areas, I'm still skeptical and do not always agree with the authors. I don't know if it's a good idea to change peoples and organizations role and still keep the old name, like "agile project manager" and "agile PMO". Scrum has solved this by simply calling it different: when the behavior is different then also call it different. Hence the ScrumMaster. Also, the authors strongly stick to the "project thinking" and seem at assume that thats a good way of a managing work. Same with contracts, the authors don't seem to think there will be much change in that area. The book has not convinced me the PMBOK is a good idea either, instead just confirmed my earlier criticism.

All tht said. Realistically, I understand that much of these aspect will not change or not quickly. So, this book introduces new concepts in a familiar language. I do think this will be needed and the authors done a great (perhaps the best possible) job in explaining agile concepts in traditional terms without losing it's meaning. This was the purpose of the book and it certainly succeeded in that.

For project managers looking at agile development, this book is an absolute must.
For agilists, the book is still a good and useful read! (also to understand traditional thinking)

Great work!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Right on the Money...! Sept. 18 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
The authors have a comprehensive understanding of agile values, principles and practices and use this knowledge to provide an enlightening mapping to the PMBOK. This is a great "bridge" for PMI project managers wanting to transition to a more agile approach to software development projects.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A good book April 20 2014
By F1 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am learning a lot from this book. Got my PMP, but don't yet know about agile and the various "flavors" thereof. This book - even though not the newest -- is clear and concise and helping me learn a lot.