Have you built your digital transformation ark?

This blog is the second in the Major Projects Matter series, exploring the nature of major projects and what they mean to practitioners, governments and academics.

Blog 1: Why care about major projects?

Your views and comments on this blog are encouraged and welcomed.

Major projects are often technology enabled

Organisations are having to adapt or radically change their operating models to cope with our rapidly changing economic, social and political environment. More than ever before, the operating environment is data rich and dynamic. As a result, organisations are increasing reliant on digital transformation to help their organisations cope. Unfortunately, as reported by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (2016), ICT (digital transformation) projects suffer from lower Delivery Confidence ratings on average (see diagram.)


Many organisations are adopting Agile Project Delivery methods

Agile Project Delivery (APD) strives to deliver products through disciplined, proven practices and allows for adjustments based on continuous stakeholder and customer feedback, thereby increasing speed to market. It is a value-driven approach that can give organisations the capacity to deliver high-priority, high-quality work and create lasting meaningful relationships with stakeholders. APD differs from traditional project delivery in four fundamental ways (see diagram).


Embedded into every facet of APD, these four values set the tone for a successful result through a change in cultural mindset, incremental working prototypes, stakeholder collaboration and readiness to respond to change. They shift the emphasis away from delivering the project by following a detailed pre-established plan to working with people to deliver meaningful outputs more gradually. This approach tends to lower risk as it provides the opportunity to respond early in the delivery lifecycle. Traditional project delivery has high visibility at the beginning and end of a project. Agile, on the other hand, aims to reduce and mitigate risks through its ongoing visibility and continuous improvement approach.

The Perils of Agile can outweigh the promises

Although APD can introduce possibilities for improving successful delivery, it can also introduce perils for your organisation. For example:

  • there must be consistently high levels of senior decision maker involvement throughout delivery, which can take time away from other priorities
  • team resources must be highly engaged and available, which may divert resources and funding from other work
  • the APD environment must operate within a mature and stable governance context, otherwise it loses its flexibility and cannot operate as intended.

If your organisation is not able to create an environment where Agile can operate well, you may want to consider alternative project management methodologies. If, however, the promises are compelling and the perils are managed, APD may be right for you.

Assuring Agile Project Delivery

Achieving the full value from Agile Project Delivery requires continuous planning and a commitment to proactive and embedded assurance as part of an Agile transformation. Organisations that successfully employ ADP methods ensure they have the right governance and controls in place. You must make your organisation ready before you embark on APD. To do this, leading organisations develop a framework to that considers the principles of good project management and Agile methodology practices. This includes:

  • Assurance to management, sponsors, IT, risk teams, and internal audit on Agile governance, controls, culture and change management
  • Safeguards to the delivery team and internal audit so that they can be effective and enable Agile
  • Guidelines for building a corporate Agile Centre of Excellence that reinforces the governance and culture around the methodology
  • Confidence that the fundamentals of Agile are embedded into ways of working such as risk management and training.

To find out more about Agile Project Delivery refer to this online white paper

The white paper explores how you can create value for your organisation by building the right capabilities, unleashing your potential and gaining confidence to deliver the best product to market, while minimising delivery risks.

Major projects matter

Future Major Project Matter blogs will explore some of my other experiences and insights. Your views and comments on this blog are also encouraged and welcomed.

a blog by @andrewschuster