Agile Project Management for Consulting Projects



By Sylvia Kerscher


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Günzel
Munich University of Applied Sciences

Munich, Germany




The megatrend of digitalization is not only having an impact on IT in companies, more than ever it focuses on the development of new business models and the adaptation of business processes (Berman, 2012). In this context, client requirements for the project management approach in management consulting projects are also changing significantly (McKinsey, 2017) (Sywottek, 2018). It is no longer the autonomous development of a concept by the consulting firm, but cooperative and transparent processing, the discussion of early and tested partial results and increased short-term change requests during implementation that make it necessary to adapt the project management approach. Classic project management approaches with a waterfall like approach such as PMI (Project Management Institute, 2017) or Prince 2 (Axelos, 2017) are only suitable to a limited extent; often they are also too costly for a small project team. Management approaches such as Lean Startup (Ries, 2017) or Design Thinking (Lewrick & Link, 2018) show the current trend towards iterative and flexible methods (Denning, 2018).

The goal of the research is the adaptation of Scrum (Sutherland, 2015) for management consulting projects in process, innovation or strategy consulting. In addition to the process model and the roles, the areas of requirements definition and test are primarily to be adapted. After a literature analysis and expert interviews, the procedure in industrial consulting projects was evaluated at the Munich University of Applied Sciences.

With the present conception of an agile project management model for management consultancies, consulting projects outside of IT projects can be carried out agile. The cooperation between client and consultants is in the foreground; the consideration of changes is possible and positively affects the client orientation. Furthermore, projects with subsequent IT implementation are simplified. Still the requirement definition by means of user stories is unusual and the client must accept and support an increased project speed as well as the mindset of the agile proceeding.

Key words: Digitalization, consulting, agile project management, flexibility

JEL code: O31

  1. Introduction

The digital transformation has to be understood as an answer of enterprises, in order to fulfil the ever-larger expectations of the clients in addition, the project complexity increases (Techconsult, 2017). The associated demand for faster responsiveness is therefore cross-industry (Lindner, 2017).

External experts are called in for support more than ever before: 63%, of those involved in a study by Techconsult in 2017, stated that they increasingly expect support from management consultants in such projects (Techconsult, 2017).

Client expectations and market-driven requirements also demand a more flexible and adaptable project management approach from management consultants. Agile process models are thus becoming more and more important for management consultancies (Risch, 2018); to date, there is no scientifically validated, agile project management approach specifically for consultancies.

The present report addresses the aforementioned problem in the research questions.

  • What are the project management requirements for consulting projects from the client’s point of view?
  • To what extent do existing project management models cover these requirements from a literature side?
  • How can the client’s requirements be taken into account in agile project management?

The paper on hand focuses on a flexible project management approach explicitly for consulting projects. In advance, the requirements (chapter 2) for project management from the client’s point of view have to be ascertained. Based on this, existing project management models have to be analysed for the fulfilment of the required requirements (chapter 3) in order to develop a suitable project management procedure (chapter 4). Chapter 5 deals with the research method and critical reflection.


To read entire paper, click here


Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 8th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States at the University of Latvia in April 2019.  It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

How to cite this paper: Kerscher, S.; Günzel, H. (2019); SCRUM4CONSULTING – Agile Project Management for Consulting Projects; presented at the 8th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2019; republished in the PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue V, June.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/pmwj82-Jun2019-Kerscher-Gunzel-SCRUM4CONSULTING-Agile-project-management.pdf



About the Authors

Sylvia Kerscher

Munich, Germany




Sylvia Kerscher’s interests lie predominantly in (Strategic) Business Development. To perform this successfully she uses agile project management approaches. Currently she focuses on a data-driven product, reinventing the Energy sector within a Munich (Germany) based IoT start up. Before this she has worked in several industries and countries (Australia, Germany and UK) mostly within Business Consulting. Most of her projects focused on digital transformation, business innovation or strategic foresight. Therefore, she was able to use her theoretical knowledge gained through her university’s degree from the University of Applied Sciences in Munich with the major “Business Innovation and Management Consulting” (MSc). She conducted her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, focusing on project management (BA) at the University of Applied Sciences in Regensburg (Germany) and Via University College Horsens (Denmark). You can contact Sylvia at e-mail: s.kerscher@liv-t.com.


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Günzel

Munich, Germany




Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Günzel is professor for process and information management at the Munich University of Applied Sciences (Germany) since September 2007. Current topics are agile project management, process management and challenges through digitalization. He currently coordinates the master’s program “Digital Technology Entrepreneurship” at the Department of Business Administration. He initiated the Learning Lab “Digital Technologies” (www.LL4DT.org) and the Co-Innovation Lab (www.co-inno-lab.org). Between 2013 and 2016 he was able to shape and advance the Department of Business Administration as Dean. From 2001 to 2007 he was employed at IBM Global Business Services as an executive and consultant. He successfully completed his studies and PhD in Data Analytics at the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Holger Günzel can be contacted at e-mail: holger.guenzel@hm.edu