Using Agile Project Management methodologies doesn’t mean you have to abandon knowledge areas and methodologies learned from the PMBOK. In fact, there are some glimpses of Agile within the PMBOK, and although they are often thought to be separate forms of Project Management, they can be used in conjunction with one another.

Here is a list of some of the principles within the PMBOK that are similar to principles in Agile Project Management:

Rolling Wave Planning & Progressive Elaboration

Rolling wave planning consists of planning a project as the project unfolds. It is often used when the project requirements are unclear. It is a form of iterative planning that is similar to Agile methodologies in that you plan for the known requirements, implement, and then re-plan. Progressive elaboration exists when work packages are decomposed into further details as the project unfolds. In Agile, the current Sprint is planned out in more detail, whereas, future Sprints are high level. As the project progresses, the Sprints are planned out in more detail. The iterative nature, progressive planning, and adaptability to changing requirements make the PMBOK methodology similar in nature to Agile Project Management.

Work Breakdown Structure

The work breakdown structure used in the PMBOK is a decomposition of a project and its work items into smaller and smaller activities or deliverables. Although not entirely the same thing, the work breakdown structure somewhat resembles the Scrum’s product backlog used in Agile Project Management. Once the backlog items are selected for a Sprint, they are broken down into smaller tasks that can be assigned to team members. Just as the work breakdown structure is used to help break down the project into small enough tasks that can be estimated to help develop the schedule, scope, and budget, the product backlog can break down tasks to help your team to estimate the backlog item to see which tasks will belong to the Sprint and how long the Sprint will take.

Responsibility Assignment Matrix

A Responsibility Assignment Matrix, such as the RACI, is used in the PMBOK to define various roles on a project.

  • Responsible – Those that perform the work.
  • Accountable – Those who are the final approving authority and ultimately accountable for the tasks that Responsible does.
  • Consulted – Those who are sought out for opinions.
  • Informed – Those who are kept up to date on progress and status of task.

In Agile, there are also roles assigned, although different than the roles in the PMBOK, there are some similarities.

  • Team Lead – (Sometimes referred to as Scrum Master) is responsible for facilitating or coaching the team, helping with roadblocks, and resource assignments.
  • Team Member – Is responsible for performing the work; this could be a developer, tester, analyst, etc.
  • Product Owner – Represents the stakeholders and is the one person on the team that is responsible for prioritizing the backlog (work item list), providing feedback, and making decisions.
  • Stakeholder – Anyone who is a direct or indirect user that is involved or affected by the project.


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