“Agile” is NOT a subset of Project Management


A Stand-Alone Alternate Methodology that is Equal to Project Management



Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS

Jakarta, Indonesia




Given the seemingly never-ending debates about what “Agile” or “agile” is or is not, here is some new thinking on this question that makes a credible case that Agile or “agile” is a methodology that is not only older than project management, dating back over a million years ago to the taming of fire or 6000 years ago to the invention of the wheel, but is actually a stand alone alternative Asset Delivery System that is equal to Project and Operations Management, when viewed from the perspective of “creating, acquiring, expanding, upgrading, maintaining and eventually disposing of organizational assets.”

Key Words: Agile, Project, Program, Operations, Asset, Methodology,


Back in 2004-2006, research done at the Manchester Universities Business School, led by Professor M.C. Winter, concluded that project management is a methodology “stuck in a 1960s-time warp”, and that the “underlying theory of project management is obsolete.”   This paper revisits these conclusions 15 years on to see if they remain relevant with the growing expansion of “Agile” or “agile” project management.

The Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE International) was founded in 1956.[1] The International Project Management Association (IPMA) was founded in 1964[2] , and the Project Management Institute was founded in 1969[3].  So why, with all these globally recognized professional societies, are we not seeing measurable improvements in the “successful” delivery of projects?  Surely in 60+ years these organizations have existed, IF what these organizations advocated worked, then doesn’t it seem reasonable that by now we should be seeing far fewer projects that run “late, over budget not to mention not delivering what was specified or worse yet, not meeting or fulfilling the objectives the project was undertaken to achieve or deliver?

Back around 1905-1906, George Santayana told us “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”[4] So let us go back and do a quick review of history to see if we can learn anything from history to help us understand why projects as well as the products they were undertaken to produce, still “fail” with such alarming regularity.

Just the facts, Ma’am…

There is no excuse for the continuing high rate of project “failures” we read about almost every day.[5], [6], [7],   There is clear evidence that the processes of project management have been used by humankind for at least 5,000 years, validated by the Great Pyramids of Giza and many other wonders of the ancient world.  As a matter of fact,  the “trial and error” method which came to be known around the 12th century as the “Scientific Method”[8] and is now being called “Agile” dates back even further, 1 million years ago to the taming of fire[9] and 6,000 years ago to the invention of the wheel[10].  SURELY in the past 6000+ years humankind could have and should have figured out how to “initiate, plan, execute, control and close” projects in a way that enables us to finish them on time, within budget, in substantial compliance with the requirements and specifications while substantially fulfilling the purpose for which they were intended?

Back around the early to mid-1950s either Esso or Diamond Shamrock Oil developed a model that integrated portfolios of assets and projects, with operations (programs) and project management into a single all-inclusive methodology designed to “create, acquire expand, develop, maintain, repair and eventually dispose of” organizational assets.  Attesting to the fact this model works, it is still in use after 65 years by all the major international and nearly all national oil companies today.

This is what this “tested and proven” model looks like.

To read entire paper, click here


How to cite this paper: Giammalvo, P.D. (2019). “Agile” is NOT a subset of Project Management BUT A Stand Alone Alternate Methodology that is Equal to Project Management. PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue III (April). Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/pmwj80-Apr2019-Giammalvo-Agile-is-not-a-subset-of-project-management.pdf



About the Author

Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE, MScPM, MRICS

Jakarta, Indonesia




Dr. Paul D. Giammalvo, CDT, CCE (#1240), MScPM, MRICS, is a Senior Technical Advisor (Project Management) to PT Mitratata Citragraha. (PTMC), Jakarta, Indonesia. www.build-project-management-competency.com. He is noted for the development and delivery of graduate level, blended learning curricula designed for the mid-career path, English as Second Language (ESL) professionals to develop competency in the local practitioner and build capacity for the local organizations. For 25+ years, he has been developing and delivering Project Management training and consulting throughout South and Eastern Asia Pacific, the Middle East, West Africa, and Europe.

He is also active in the Global Project Management Community, by playing a “thought leadership” role for the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering International, (AACEI) http://www.aacei.org/ since 1991; He has also been active in two IPMA member organizations: The Green Project Management Association (GPM) http://www.greenprojectmanagement.org/ where he served on the Certification Board of Directors for two years and the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management http://www.asapm.org/ for which he served for four years on the BoD as Director of Marketing. He also sat on the Board of Directors of the Global Alliance for Project Performance Standards (GAPPS), www.globalpmstandards.org, Sydney, Australia and is active as a regional leader. Currently, he is a compensated consultant to the International Guild of Project Controls. http://www.planningplanet.com/guild  as the primary author of their “Compendium and Reference” as well as the chief architect of their competency-based credentialing program. http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/certification

He has spent 35 of the last 50 years working on large, highly technical international projects, including such prestigious projects as the Alyeska Pipeline and the Distant Early Warning Site (DEW Line), upgrades in Alaska and the Negev Airbase Constructors, Ovda, Israel and the Minas Oil Field in Rumbai, Sumatra. His current client list includes Fortune 500 major telecommunications, oil, gas and mining companies plus the UN Projects Office and many other multi-national companies, NGO organizations and Indonesian Government Agencies.

In addition to 45+ years of hands-on field experience, Dr. Giammalvo holds an undergraduate degree in Construction Management, his Master of Science in Project Management through the George Washington University and was awarded his PhD in Project and Program Management through the Institute Superieur De Gestion Industrielle (ISGI) and Ecole Superieure De Commerce De Lille (ESC-Lille) under the supervision of Professor Christophe Bredillet.  “Dr. PDG” can be contacted at pauldgphd@gmail.com.

To view other original work by Paul Giammalvo, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-paul-d-giammalvo/


[1] About AACE- ( n.d.) http://web.aacei.org/about-aace

[2] IPMA History- (n.d.) https://www.ipma.world/about-us/ipma-international/history-of-ipma/

[3] About PMI- (n.d.) https://www.pmi.org/about

[4] Life of Reason, Reason in Common Sense, Scribner’s, 1905, p. 284. https://www.iupui.edu/~santedit/sant/about-santayana/santayana-quotations/

[5] Butts, Glenn, (2010) “Mega Projects Estimates- A History of Denial” http://www.build-project-management-competency.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Glenn.Butts-Mega-Projects-Estimates.pdf

[6] KPMG Construction Survey (2015) “Climbing the Curve” https://assets.kpmg/content/dam/kpmg/pdf/2015/04/global-construction-survey-2015.pdf

[7] Flyvbjerg, Bent (2017) “Sue the Forecaster” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sue-forecaster-bent-flyvbjerg-%E5%82%85%E4%BB%A5%E6%96%8C-/

[8] Harris, William, (n.d.) History of the Scientific Method https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/scientific-experiments/scientific-method3.htm last accessed 02/10/2019

[9] Cohen, Jennie (April 2012) History Channel https://www.history.com/news/human-ancestors-tamed-fire-earlier-than-thought last accessed 02/10/2019

[10] Gambino, Megan (June 2009) Smithsonian https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/a-salute-to-the-wheel-31805121/ last accessed 02/10/2019