Agile methods to project management

HiLogic, claims to be the first accredited organisation in Malaysa to offer training around business agility and interaction lifecycle with customers through the use of frameworks like Agile Programme Management and AgileSHIFT.

According to its director and lead trainer, Vincent Marsi, “Since companies, including those from the same sector, are different in their product and service creation, we realise agile transformation and digitalization is an individual and tailored journey which cannot be copied from one company to another.”

In the new year, HiLogic aims to offer new approaches, like AgileDS – digitalization in agile way, AgilePfM – agile portfolio management, to enable companies to pick and mix the best suitable frameworks to deliver strategy and support their journey.

EITN has a chat with Marsi.

EITN: Please tell me about your business, what exactly do you do and what is your business about?

Marsi: HiLogic SDN BHD was established in 2008, at a time when many Malaysian organizations were beginning to place more focus on capability development and certification in project management.  As the project management capabilities of our clients advanced, attention moved to adopting a more strategic approach towards selecting the ‘right’ project investments and achieving business goals more effectively and efficiently.  As this need grew, new and evolving frameworks emerged to support what we know today as program and portfolio management.  Our own capabilities and services continued to evolve to support our clients build their capabilities to adopt ‘fit for purpose’ working practices in the three areas we often refer to as PPM: project, program and portfolio management.

In more recent years ‘agile ways of working’ has gained traction with current and new clients wanting to explore ways to deliver products ‘faster’ and attain value from their products earlier. Today we work closely with our clients to identify the best approach to achieve individual or corporate goals, be it through the adoption of PPM approaches, agile ways of working or a hybrid model

EITN: What are the trends in the market for the area of service/solution that you offer? Ie. popular courses, online or physical trainings, IT or non-IT skills, what exactly are employees looking for?

Marsi: The focus on PPM approaches remains strong, together with an increasing interest in adopting agile approaches.  Today most Malaysian organizations are still exploring what ‘agile ways of working’ may mean to them as they continue through a phase of agile understanding and awareness. Though in saying this some of our clients have been on an agile transformation journey for some years now.

We have invested in online training programs with some success, though classroom training is still by far the most preferred mode of training. Both modes of training have benefits, with online training allowing learners to complete their training at a place and time that suits their busy schedules and classroom training permitting an interactive experience in the presence of an experienced trainer able to provide immediate support to training participants

EITN: Agile and project management – what are they and what are the differences between them?

Marsi: There is sometimes heated debates on forums about the difference, which sometimes is not necessarily productive.  If there is a difference, it’s mostly the result of a view point some people has chosen to adopt (I can already hear the forums lighting up!). Let me explain.

In its simplest form agile can be described as a way of working to develop products iteratively and incrementally with the aim of delivering customer and business value quicker.  It has its origins as far back as 1957, evolving into project management and software development spheres since then.

Today it is gaining rapid traction beyond software development into many different industry sectors and also evolving to a sphere often referred to as ‘business agility’.  Projects can and do operate in this manner though either due to the design of project frameworks, contractual constraints, the mindset of practitioners, ‘iterative and incremental’ development may not be the default approach for specific projects or sectors.  Every project has a level of ‘agility’ though there can be environmental characteristics that may limit the degree of ‘agility’.

The fast paced change in many business sectors has meant the need for rapid innovation. The application of the principles and concepts of agile ways of work working is seen as part of a solution to allow the modern organization strive and succeed.

Project frameworks such as PRINCE2 and PMBOK now integrate agile concepts, though common frameworks centred around agile ways of working such as Scrum, AgilePM as well as new frameworks such as AgileSHIFT exist to support agility aims, with new ones sprouting as we speak.

Each framework is attempting to service a specific need or business environment.  Given we are seeing complete divisions and entire organizations embarking on an agile transformation journey, it is important organizations inform themselves on the different approaches available to support achievement of their strategic objectives and how to integrate such approaches in their businesses, as there is no single template solution.

EITN: What top 3 problems do your solutions/services address and resolve?

Marsi: Can I put this in really simple terms: A) What changes an organization should invest in, B) the best method(s) to deliver strategy and achieve its vision C) capability to deliver and achieve strategic goals through quicker development of products and services to remain relevant and attain an advantage in competitive markets.

EITN: Moving forward what are your plans/roadmap for the next 3 years to address the Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation wave?

Marsi: We are seeing and will continue to see a complete revolution in factories, manufacturing and service industries over the next 3 years. Technology including advanced analytics, machine learning, the IoT, cloud computing, digital services and human-machine interfaces are part of this revolution but also enablers for organizations to continue to remain viable and relevant now and into the future.

Technologies are nowadays reliable, easy to access and with lower costs, allowing them to be used within growing industrial and service applications.

We believe that Connected Customers and Customized Experiences will lead to Empowered Employees to drive Optimized Production and result in Transformed Products.

Our service offering (Training and Advisory) are also evolving in this environment, supporting organizations to embrace and enable these elements and also become market disruptors. Technology and their resulting enablers (gig economy, remote working, cloud storage and processing, and online presence) have and will continue to enable a shifting customer behaviour which companies and their products have to react to, or even predict.

Frameworks, we are currently offering in our courses, do describe ways of working, principles, practices, and tools and techniques to support companies wanting to move forward and adapt to a rapidly changing environment. The co-creation of value between customers and companies will play a pivotal role in the next few years and will transform products and subsequently the entire production to more agility.

In order to allow products to transform to customer needs the production must be optimized in value creation which only happens if employees are empowered to do so. Connected customers will then talk positive about these products and will elevate the position of the organization.

We see companies needing support and advice to change and become a more customer aligned and subsequently a more successful organization. Our service offerings include a number of training courses like Enterprise Big Data and AgilePM (agile project management) to support organizations wanting to innovate and lead.  This year we expanded our service offerings in the ‘agile sphere’ to serve the evolving needs of our current and future clients, introducing frameworks to support capabilities beyond agile scrum, to support organizations wanting to embark on an agile transformation journey.