The topic for the 35th meeting of CITI's centres of excellence club (CofEe) was - Agile in the P3 environment: reviewing the key features of Agile development and examining whether they can be usefully extended, applied or find parallels in project, programme and portfolio management.
The day began with an introduction from our host Ian Santry, Head of programme management, best practice and capability at the Home Office. This was followed by some questions from Nick Dobson to stimulate thinking and discussion around whether Agile has real merit in project, programme or portfolio management.
The 35th Centre of Excellence meeting was hosted at the Home Office in London and had as its theme was "Agile in the P3 environment".
The Home Office leads on immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime policy and counter-terrorism and works to ensure visible, responsive and accountable policing in the UK.
Home Office is a ministerial department, supported by 29 agencies and public bodies.
Our first presentation was delivered by Derek Homer, Agile Delivery Manager from Bookatable.Com. Derek has drawn from his extensive experience in Agile product development at Workshare, Nokia and BBC. The main message from Derek's presentation was that we should not confuse Agile with a project management methodology; it is rather a product development methodology. Whereas Agile provides a mindset that may be suitable for delivering products in some contexts, it does not work well as an approach for managing a project.
The second presentation was from Natalie Jones, Head of Projects at the Home Office. Natalie outlined how Agile was used successfully as a new methodology for software development within the Immigration Platform Technologies Programme. Natalie highlighted the particular challenges of changing the mindsets not only of management but equally of the product managers and software developers. Natalie concluded that although Agile does not come free of challenges, she sees no turning back to other methodologies for product development.
The third presentation was from Phil Bradbury from Transport for London (TfL). Phil outlined how Agile is used within the project management environment at TfL. An important message that emerged from Phil's experience with agile is that governance in the product development environment should mirror the philosophy underpinning Agile. Phil also emphasised the critical need for changing the mindsets of people working in Agile environments.
Members then were invited to participate in a workshop where they discussed one of four themes:
Agile experiences in the workplace
When is it appropriate to use Agile in a project?
What are the costs and risks of Agile?
Guidelines for running Agile projects within portfolios and programmes.
"The classic training model, taking individuals out of the business to sit in a classroom for a week at a time, was not going to work for us. But at the same time, we knew we needed to raise our game in managing change. I have to say, your people are brilliant!"