Agile Methods in Project Business


Project Business Management


By Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
– Walt Disney


Agile methods experience a growing gap between theory and practical application. Generally, methods still presume that projects are performed internally, inside organizations, while reality has moved on to cross-corporate working styles with two or more organizations involved as contract partners.

This gap leaves important questions unanswered, such as what adjustments should be made to team setups to enable projects that span over borders between the organizations. In addition, questions remain on applicable contract types.

Theory and Reality

Agile methods and what is sometimes called “Agile mindset” have become popular in the last couple of years for projects and also for operational approaches under the name “DevOps”. It is used in software development but also in the design of other products, such as entertainment electronics and even military aircraft[1].

However, when we consider the observable and measurable trend toward project business, where two or more organizations act together as clients and contractors, the question turns up of how these two developments act together or are in conflict with each other.

Agile Methods

Various methods are subsumed under the title “agile methods”. The most popular methods are:

    • Scrum
    • Kanban
    • eXtreme Programming (XP)

These methods are not mutually exclusive and may be mixed. Results are then variously called Scrumban or similar[2].

Many promoters and implementors of agile methods have turned the method almost into an ideology or a religion, as seen in Figure 1[3]. Often, a dichotomy is postulated of “Agile vs. Waterfall” that the author considers deeply flawed in a world of project management that cannot be simply reduced to black-and-white thinking.

Figure 1: “Agilism” has become a kind of religion or ideology for many people.

Promoters of agile methods make a number of promises, including

    • Agile methods are faster.
    • Agile methods lead to better results.
    • Agile methods reduce risks
    • Agile methods lead to higher satisfaction among team members[4].

There is no evidence that any of these claims are universally true.


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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Oliver Lehmann, author of the book “Project Business Management” (ISBN 9781138197503), published by Auerbach / Taylor & Francis in 2018. See author profile below.

How to cite this article: Lehmann, O. F. (2022). Agile Methods in Project Business, Project Business Management series article, PM World Journal, Vol. XI, Issue XII, December. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/pmwj124-Dec2022-Lehmann-Agile-methods-in-project-business.pdf

About the Author

Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany


Oliver F. Lehmann, MSc, ACE, PMP, is a project management educator, author, consultant, and speaker. In addition, he is the owner of the website Project Business Foundation, a non-profit initiative for professionals and organizations involved in cross-corporate project business.

He studied Linguistics, Literature, and History at the University of Stuttgart and Project Management at the University of Liverpool, UK, where he holds a Master of Science Degree (with Merit). Oliver has trained thousands of project managers in Europe, the USA, and Asia in methodological project management, focusing on certification preparation. In addition, he is a visiting lecturer at the Technical University of Munich.

He has been a member and volunteer at PMI, the Project Management Institute, since 1998 and served as the President of the PMI Southern Germany Chapter from 2013 to 2018. Between 2004 and 2006, he contributed to PMI’s PM Network magazine, for which he provided a monthly editorial on page 1 called “Launch,” analyzing troubled projects around the world.

Oliver believes in three driving forces for personal improvement in project management: formal learning, experience, and observations. He resides in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, and can be contacted at oliver@oliverlehmann.com.

Oliver Lehmann is the author of the books:

His previous articles and papers for PM World Journal can be found here: https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/oliver-f-lehmann/

[1] (Beck, 2022)
[2] (Kulbacki, 2018)
[3] The photo was taken during a congress by the author. The T-shirt advertises a consultancy whose name and logo have been pixelated to avoid promoting or pillorying the company or putting it on the spot.
[4] (Lynn, 2019)