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Agile Project Management for Government: Leadership skills for implementation of large-scale public sector projects in months, not years Paperback – 30 Jul 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Maitland and Strong (30 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957223404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957223400
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 714,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“a unique, insightful and readable leadership perspective of agile government”

Dot Tudor
Winner of Best Agile Coach Award 2011

“A forceful, evidence-based argument for the role of agile within government.”

Andrew Bragg
CEO, Association for Project Management (APM)

“A wonderful collection of real case studies … a stream of practical advice … as broad a scope as one could hope for … A broad view sorely needed in a field long dominated by dogmatic developers and code-centric softcrafters … I found myself ‘hooked’ on this and read it cover to cover in a weekend.” - Tom Gilb, the ‘grandfather’ of evolutionary project management.

“An enlightening insight into grand failures and successes in government projects.” Neil Coutts, Director, Project Management Institute (PMI)

About the Author

Written by change management expert Brian Wernham, who has more than 30 years experience in adaptive project management, this guide is essential reading for leaders in central, federal and local government and for senior managers in companies with government clients.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Agile Project Management has been around for far too long to be considered a novel concept, but not long enough to be totally and universally assimilated into management's collective subconscious. In some circles it's still regarded with a certain amount of mistrust, and sometimes it is met with that instinctive resistance that stems from an incomplete understanding of a concept.

Brian Wernham's book should go a long way towards overcoming this resistance. It takes a multi-pronged approach that is part illustrative, part didactic and part comparative.

Illustrative, in that a series of case studies are used to demonstrate the specific strengths of agile project management in different contexts. These case studies, covering a range of outstandingly successful major projects drawn from the UK, the US and Australia, are followed step by step and described in great detail.

Overtly didactic, in that the author takes us through the Agile Manifesto and the principles of Agile Leadership Behaviour, and here again the precepts and principles are illustrated in the context of specific projects. Throughout the book, specific discussion questions are posed to encourage readers to focus on certain aspects of the case studies, and to extrapolate ways to apply Agile principles to their own projects.

Comparative, in that the author also looks at the wider picture and sets Agile up against traditional, once more using case studies to show, in context, the gulf between the two approaches.
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This book is unusual in that it takes a strategic view of how agile project management could revolutionize the delivery of large technology projects - specifically those in the public sector.

Most books on agile are aimed at programmers and their team leaders, but this one aims at a broader management audience. It aims to convince the reader that the agile approach is right for most projects.

Part I shows how 5 large-scale government projects have actually been delivered using agile. I was surprised at the size and importance of these projects - for example, how the FBI replaced a team of 125 that had taken a conventional 'waterfall' approach to developing the new FBI case management with an agile team of 55 - still a large team - and they implemented the system over 2 years; the previous team had taken 4 years to deliver very little.

Part II of the book goes on to argue that it is leadership, not process that delivers agile success, and 9 'Agile Leadership Behaviours' are described. The third and final part of the book examines the barriers in government to adopting agile project management: procurement, addiction to process, audit and assurance. Lots of practical examples are given to back up the case made in each chapter - and each is fully referenced; I used some of the endnotes provided to read more on the FBI project since it was so interesting.

The examples are international - from the USA, UK, Australia and elsewhere, so it shows that agile can work in any government environment.

The book concentrates on the Scrum and DSDM methodologies and explains how these can be used together rather than seeing them as competing approaches - which I found very interesting. I would have found a more detailed description of each method useful, but I guess that is the programmer in me talking!

This book is easy to read and makes a compelling argument for agile government.
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Format: Paperback
Agile has been around for many years and the Agile manifesto was signed back in 2001, yet despite the advances of Agile across the board from small software houses to big banks the take up of Agile within government has until recently been comparatively thin. This is despite the high profile failures experienced by traditional waterfall projects and the resultant need to find a more successful approach. Agile when used properly embodies a set of principles and techniques which help to reduce the risk associated with more waterfall like big bang approaches, yet in the risk averse public sector there has been a hesitancy in adopting Agile - a project management method which by all accounts reduces risk.

Brian's book in in three parts, the first draws on his extensive experience in the UK, US and around the world to explain where Agile has been used successfully in government (US, UK and Australian examples). The second part explains Agile leadership behaviours in line with the Agile manifesto and the third talks about barriers to success. In my view the second and third parts are closely interlinked because all too often a barrier to success is linked to a lack of change in behaviour. It is all very well having developers do daily standups and sprints, but if the rest of the organisation has not embodied the agile culture, you are merely "doing" agile rather than "being" agile and importantly you have insufficient appreciation of why you are needing agile and the behaviours across the department which are necessary to allow Agile to succeed.
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