Can action research give reproducible results? Results from a study of an agile project management framework for an SME IT environment
Keywords:IT project management, agile development, SMEs Action Research, Agile project management framework
Project management methods have reached maturity in large organisations, and these methods have been successfully deployed for many decades, especially in connection with IT projects. As the research field of project management has matured over the years, there has been an evolution from a primarily process-driven style of project management, to methods customised specifically to IT, which are predominantly found in large organisations and government bodies. This evolution has also been witnessed in the field of software development, where the introduction and refinement of methods and frameworks for the improved delivery of complex software projects has been well documented. However, despite these advances, small software teams have often found these project methods too bureaucratic and unwieldy to be used for any long term benefit. This has therefore led to the style of software development methods known collectively as ‘agile’ development.
This paper presents the research findings of a study undertaken using an action research methodology. The research investigated the effects of putting into practice a framework of agile development concepts combined with traditional project management techniques, for the management of IT projects in an SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise) environment. An agile project management framework was developed to improve the implementation of IT projects, using core concepts adapted from the PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge), in addition to concepts derived from action research and agile software development. This framework was then critically tested and refined over a period of eighteen months. The resulting agile project management framework was shown to assist project participants working in a fast-paced environment, where there is a need to respond quickly to changing requirements. This paper also provides a basis for further academic research into the future potential for combining agile methods with other established techniques for a business environment.
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