White Paper: Agile Projects in a Non-Agile Environment

Agile Projects in a Non-Agile Environment: What is Your Experience?


This paper explores the difficulty of using agile in just one part of a non-agile organisation – in this case, in the London office of a multinational, where the head-office was based in another country and was committed to using a waterfall approach to project management.


This paper presents findings from a case study of a multinational organisation that adopted Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) in one of their offices, along with a summary of the challenges they faced and suggestions from published literature about how to overcome them. Their main challenge was that their projects were approved, budgeted and monitored by their Headquarters using a traditional waterfall approach. As a consequence they were running agile projects in a non-agile environment.

The three main aspects of this challenge were:

  1. Differences in organisational cultures;
  2. Managing the transition to agile;
  3. Reporting progress and demonstrating control.

Recommendations from the literature for each of these challenges include:

  1. Negotiating new approaches to knowledge management and knowledge sharing;
  2. Supporting an acceptance and understanding of agile through aligning processes, education, ownership, understanding change, emphasizing values and winning the confidence of executive management;
  3. Proposals for reporting formats, managing the burden of reporting, and reporting just enough.

Share your experience

We are interested in your experiences with agile in non-agile environments.

  • What challenges does your organisation face?
  • How have you overcome these challenges?

Please fill in our questionnaire at http://www.agileresearchnetwork.org

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Agile Research Network

Agile Research Network

The Agile Research Network (ARN) is a collaboration between researchers at two UK universities at the forefront of investigating agile methodologies. The Open University (OU) has a strong research record in using agile methods in practice. The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has a strong record of linking research, teaching and practice through industry-based research and practitioner-focussed Masters and doctoral programmes. ARN is funded through a number of sources; currently, it is funded by the two university members and the Agile Business Consortium.
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Agile Business Consortium

Agile Business Consortium

The Agile Business Consortium is the professional body for business agility. We’re all about community – whether you’re a multinational working through a large-scale transformation, a new start-up, or a contractor, we can support you to achieve more, to grow more, and to build your business agility. As a global not-for-profit organisation that’s been around for over 25 years, our knowledge and experience around agile competencies and behaviours can offer you the guidance you need to reach your agility goals. Together with our partners, we create and share agile research, case studies, resources and tools that help you compete in today’s uncertain world. A registered not-for-profit, we’re the world’s longest-standing agile-orientated organisation. We’re the brains behind AgilePM®, AgileBA®, AgilePgM®, AgilePfM™ and AgileDS™. Based in the UK, we have members in over 30 countries around the world.


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