Digitalization plays an increasingly important role in the strategies of leading companies. Many are already implementing complex projects or plan to do so in the near future. In general, such projects place high demands on project management due to their strong IT component. Close cooperation with the IT department and targeted use of agile methods are central pillars for the success of digitalization projects.
The unique challenges of digitalization implementation usually require the agile management of at least some individual subprojects or work streams and their integration into comprehensive, mostly classically managed projects. To ensure success, project managers must address four key questions:
· What combination of agile and classical project management methods will enable both approaches to be leveraged optimally?
· How can agile subprojects be integrated successfully without a subproject manager with overall responsibility or resilient milestones following a timeline?
· How can the comparatively high resource demands of agile subprojects be effectively managed despite unfocused responsibility?
· How can the company ensure that all project stakeholders have the skills and flexibility to deliver optimal performance in the proposed project setup?
Our extensive experience with digitalization projects shows that there are no standard solutions. The answers to these questions depend on the specific situation on site as well as company and project characteristics.
In the absence of theoretically sound methods and instruments, it is helpful to leverage knowledge gained through practical experience to ensure that the approaches chosen are as effective as possible.
Practical experience also underscores the importance of ensuring a general understanding of agility and agile project management methods within the company through targeted training. Only when all stakeholders of a project are familiar with the approach and understand the procedure can pragmatic solutions be found and implemented – the backbone of successful agile methods in practice.
The combination of classical and agile methods is key to the success of digitalization projects. Extensive project experience can help customize tactical decisions and trainings can ensure that all participants have the skills they need.