The agile project manager

Bureaucracy in a collaboration can really hinder progress in particular when it comes to the tricky client-agency relationship.

Needless to say, there are many ways to organize yourself out of the complications that come with large projects and perhaps you no longer need the traditional and fixed role of the project manager on the client side?

Richard Madigan, senior project manager at MMT Digital, a top 20 ‘design and build’ agency in the UK, recently joined me at a Boye digital manager group in Zug, Switzerland hosted by Allergan and in this post he shares his view about agile software and how it can help transform a project manager from a speed bump to a focal point.

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Agile – what software and humans need to be

Software is something we have invented to make our lives easier. This means that it should adapt to us, not the other way around, the same way that people also adapt to situations. This is best ensured by flexible software that allows us to communicate directly, and where a wide range of elements can constantly be redefined to suit the end goal – which in itself may also change or shift in the process.

Remember that agile is not just a type of software, it is a set of principles governing software, so that everything becomes easier for the people using it. Here are the principles to remember:

  • Keeping an open mind to changing requirements – even late in development

  • Close and frequent cooperation between project managers

  • The people involved are motivated individuals, who should be trusted

  • Self-organizing teams

  • Highly functioning software is an important measure of success

  • Always adaptation to shifting circumstance

The future is agile

There was a time when we at MMT Digital often needed to introduce agile to a client as they had only heard it as a buzzword

Over the last couple of years, we have started to see a significant increase in companies being fully aware of the benefits of this framework prior to approaching us with a project.

Communication is of paramount importance for any agile project, particularly within a client-agency relationship. And it is vital that stakeholders from the client side have direct access to the team members on the agency side thereby forming one, unified team.

Departing with the stereotypical project manager

In order to enable this model to work, traditional roles within a project team must be redefined. The danger with the stereotypical project manager role on the client side is that it introduces a level of bureaucracy that can stunt the performance of the team.

Successful client-side project managers are able to adapt, stepping into “product owner”-style roles. They provide a focal point rather than a speed bump for communicating requirements and disseminating updates and knowledge to the wider stakeholders, and this is what agile software will help facilitate.