How to Be Agile in a Non Agile Organization (Part 1):

Registration is free. Login or register to view/download this content.


Managing Director, Both Hemispheres, LLC
24 years of expertise as a senior business analyst, project manager and solutions consultant, working with over 130 public and private sector organizations in Australia, Canada and the United States. Award winning author of several books on Agile methods, including The Power of the Agile Business Analyst: 30 surprising ways a business analyst can add value to your Agile development team. Details provided at

Delivering Agile Projects within Structured Project, Process and Quality Management Frameworks

The most important factor in successful Agile adoption (and expansion) is aligning it to the culture, standards and constraints of your organization.  Even the most effective Agile project work risks losing executive support if it cannot meet the overarching management, compliance, administrative and reporting structures established by the organization.  Unless you are in the unique position of being able to adjust your organizational structures to suit the flexibility of Agile approaches, you will need to find a way for your team’s Agile work to comply with these corporate standards.  Thankfully, this is an achievable goal, although it may take some creative thinking to make it work within your specific organizational constraints.

This is the first in a series of articles that will give you strategies for aligning your Agile work to your organizational structures.  In this article, the focus is on delivering Agile projects within existing Project, Process and Quality Management frameworks.

The word project is a fantastically broad term that covers everything from event planning, to delivering small and large software solutions, to the construction of a new building. It is the abstract nature of this word that forces:

  • Project Management frameworks, such as the PMBOK® and PRINCE2®
  • Process Management frameworks, such as CMMI® and ITIL®, and
  • Quality Management frameworks

to be high-level enough to remain equally applicable to projects of all sizes across multiple industries and organizational activities.  To address this broad scope, these frameworks focus on constraining work to meet identified management objectives (such as time, budget and risk management), but they do not (and arguably cannot) significantly focus on how this work is undertaken. It is this lack of specificity of the work itself that allows Agile approaches to readily fit within these structures.

One of the keys to successfully delivering Agile work within existing frameworks is differentiating between the strategic objectives of the project and the operational activities within it. If a software project is predefined to deliver strategic business outcomes (such as cost reductions, increases in productivity or revenue generation), then the detail of exactly how these outcomes will be achieved can be left to the discretion of the project team and the client. However, if the same software project is predefined with hundreds of pages of detailed operational and functional specifications, then the project team is generally handcuffed to the outcome from the beginning with little room to adjust the work as it evolves (and, consequently, a limited ability for the team to use Agile approaches in this work).

Therefore, one of the critical factors in aligning Agile work with existing frameworks is defining the deliverables to be based on strategic business objectives – not on detailed functionality. For example, the Executive Office might establish the following constraints for a planned IT project:

  • It must be delivered within the $120,000 allocated budget
  • It must be in production use by the end of the third quarter
  • It must achieve the following business objectives:
    • Decrease order form completion time by 25%
    • Decrease order processing time by 20%
    • Keep customers aware of the status of their orders – from initial form submission to order fulfillment
    • Encourage customers to submit future orders.

Nothing about these constraints stops your department from leveraging Agile approaches such as working directly with the business areas (i.e. the client) to define the details of how the objectives will be achieved, or from delivering multiple smaller releases of functional software throughout the specified timeframe to meet these objectives.

The critical challenge for you is aligning the primary objectives of your organization’s frameworks (e.g. budget management, revenue generation, risk management, resource planning, fulfilling contractual obligations, complying with regulatory requirements, meeting shareholder demands) to the inherent benefits that are delivered through Agile work – and then generating outcomes from your Agile projects that align with these objectives.

To determine how Agile approaches can fit within the established frameworks in your organization, you will need to ask the following questions:

  • How are the objectives and deliverables of each project defined?  Can project charters and project initiation documents be abstracted to represent strategic outcomes instead of tactical ones?  Will the project authority support an approach that identifies, communicates and confirms detailed deliverables as the project progresses?
  • What are the primary drivers for the established deadlines within the project? Does management need deadlines to provide defined end dates for project funding and resource allocation?  Are specific project outcomes tied to fixed delivery dates?  Is there any flexibility for the project team to have input into these timeframes, or are they always top-down directives?
  • Similarly, what are the drivers for project funding?  Is it a fixed amount identified at the beginning of the project, or can it be adapted to emerging needs as the project progresses?  Is there any correlation between funding allocation and generated business value?

The answers to these questions will help you to position your Agile work to align with these drivers. For example, if your organization’s framework is largely driven by budget management and revenue generation, you can document where Agile approaches have enabled the team to deliver high business-value features earlier than planned, creating an opportunity for scaling down the initially allocated funding because the project objectives have already been achieved.

Similarly, if your organization’s framework is largely driven by risk management, you can document where upfront exploration, test driven development, and the production of tangible outputs mitigated the risk of technical issues and misalignment with client expectations.

There is nothing stopping your organization from using Agile methods and practices as the tactical approach for delivering results within the structure and constraints of the Project, Process and Quality Management frameworks in your organization.  The key is aligning the benefits of your Agile approaches with the primary drivers for these frameworks.  Ideally, once you have a few successful Agile projects in your track record, decision makers will be more willing to consider adapting these frameworks to accommodate Agile work. 

Similar Resources

Featured Certificate: BPM Specialist

Everyone starts here.

You're looking for a way to improve your process improvement skills, but you're not sure where to start.

Earning your Business Process Management Specialist (BPMS) Certificate will give you the competitive advantage you need in today's world. Our courses help you deliver faster and makes projects easier.

Your skills will include building hierarchical process models, using tools to analyze and assess process performance, defining critical process metrics, using best practice principles to redesign processes, developing process improvement project plans, building a center of excellence, and establishing process governance.

The BPMS Certificate is the perfect way to show employers that you are serious about business process management. With in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management, you'll be able to take your business career to the next level.

Learn more about the BPM Specialist Certificate





  • Business Process Management Specialist
  • Earning your Business Process Management Specialist (BPMS) Certificate will provide you with a distinct competitive advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. With in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management, you’ll be able to take your business career to the next level.
  • BPM Professional Certificate
    Business Process Management Professional
  • Earning your Business Process Management Professional (BPMP) Certificate will elevate your expertise and professional standing in the field of business process management. Our BPMP Certificate is a tangible symbol of your achievement, demonstrating your in-depth knowledge of process improvement and management.


BPM Certification

  • Make the most of your hard-earned skills. Earn the respect of your peers and superiors with Business Process Management Certification from the industry's top BPM educational organization.




  • Operational Excellence Specialist
  • Earning your Operational Excellence Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in driving organizational excellence and achieving sustainable improvements in performance.


OpEx Professional Certificate

  • Operational Excellence Professional
  • Earn your Operational Excellence Professional Certificate and gain a competitive edge in driving organizational excellence and achieving sustainable improvements in performance.



  • Agile BPM Specialist
  • Earn your Agile BPM Specialist Certificate and gain a competitive edge in driving business process management (BPM) with agile methodologies. You’ll gain a strong understanding of how to apply agile principles and concepts to business process management initiatives.  

Business Architecture



  • Business Architecture Specialist
  • The Business Architecture Specialist (BAIS) Certificate is proof that you’ve begun your business architecture journey by committing to the industry’s most meaningful and credible business architecture training program.

  • Business Architecture Professional
  • When you earn your Business Architecture Professional (BAIP) Certificate, you will be able to design and implement a governance structure for your organization, develop and optimize business processes, and manage business information effectively.

BA CertificationCertification

  • Make the most of your hard-earned skills. Earn the respect of your peers and superiors with Business Architecture Certification from the industry's top BPM educational organization.




  • Digital Transformation Specialist
  • Earning your Digital Transformation Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. 


  • Digital Transformation Professional
  • The Digital Transformation Professional Certificate is the first program in the industry to cover all the key pillars of Digital Transformation holistically with practical recommendations and exercises.



  • Agile Business Analysis Specialist
  • Earning your Agile Business Analysis Specialist Certificate will provide you with a distinct advantage in the world of agile software development.


  • DAS Certificate
  • Decision Automation Specialist
  • Earning your Decision Automation Certificate will empower you to excel in the dynamic field of automated decision-making, where data-driven insights are pivotal to driving business innovation and efficiency.