Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Governance in the Agile space

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction.
Bill Gates

Governance and agile methods may seem like an oxymoron—but not so. A means to govern is essential for orderly project functioning. Without governance, the advantages of adaptive and evolutionary methods could be overwhelmed by functions bolted together haphazardly and rendered operationally ineffective, expensive to maintain, and not beneficialdisadvantageous to customers and stakeholders

Governance 'should's'
  • A governance program should be purposeful about maximizing the business potential of a project.
  • Governance should be dedicated toward minimizing the risks to business performance.
  • A governance program should enable and promote innovative and imaginative solutions, and
  • Governance should deter behavior that strays too far from norms.
In short, a governance program exists for five reasons that are in effect the governance mission statement:

Governance Mission
1. To oversee and approve investment on behalf of business beneficiaries;
2. To codify decision-making rights to enable make it possible for teams to have autonomy and freedom of maneuver;
3. To enable and promote innovation, evolution, and technical excellence within the framework of architecture and operating norms;
4. To be the ultimate arbiter of risks that affect business performance and accountability; and
5. To provide accountability for compliance to mandatory standards.
Governance is built on quality principles.

Four principles guide an effective governance implementation:

Governance Principles
1. Governance should be applied proportionately to the amount at stake.
2. Governance should provide clarity for mission and purpose, scope boundaries, decision-making authority, and decision rights.
3. Governance should respect the principle of subsidiary function: governance should not intrude into the management of functions that are best left to functional and project managers.
4. Governance must be lean, timely, and responsive, respecting agile principles to provide enough, but ‘just enough’, oversight and control to accomplish the governance mission.

A project management tip: Decision policy for the project manager
• The simplest policy for decision making is... always make a best-value decision based on the collective value of the risk-weighted factors
• When deciding among alternatives, pick the alternative that informs the business most favorably, even if there is suboptimum result for the project

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