As the name suggests, Adaptive Project Framework (APF) or Adaptive Project Management makes it easy to adapt. This approach was created on the assumption that most projects, especially in computing, have varying scope and uncertain and changing requirements. Because of this, they cannot be managed using traditional methods of project management.
Adaptive Project Management provides a framework that adapts to ever changing environments. The project is divided into several cycles or mini-projects, and at the end of each mini-project the team evaluates the results obtained in order to improve the performance and the procedures for the following mini-projects. The stakeholders can also change the scope of the project at the beginning of each cycle to allow the team to produce higher added value.
The method was created by Robert K. Wysocki, a recognized strategic leader in the field of project management. He was the author and co-author of many books including the Adaptive Project Framework: Managing Complexity in the Face of Uncertainty in which he describes the APF approach.
Principle of Adaptive Project Framework
Risks, costs, duration, complexity, market stability, customer involvement and added value are elements that vary greatly from one project to another and from one client to another. Project managers must therefore be prepared to adapt the selected project method in order to ensure a perfect match between the efforts made and the approach chosen.
APF is an adaptive, iterative approach and, you guessed it, Agile. It was designed to provide customers with maximum added value within their time and cost constraints by adjusting the project perimeter at each iteration. It is the customer who determines the maximum value added. Then, it can change the scope of the project at the end of each iteration based on what has been learned in previous iterations. This method allows us to accept and manage change rather than try to avoid it. For this method to work, it is essential that the client be involved from the outset for the entire duration of the project.
Process of Adaptive Project Framework
Adaptive project management is a five-step process.
- Definition of the scope of the Project
Develop Satisfaction Conditions (SCOs) to define the client’s needs and how to meet those needs.
Establish the Project Overview Statement (POS) that summarizes the problem or opportunity, what will be accomplished and how, the added value as well as the risks, obstacles and assumptions to succeed.
Prioritize functional requirements; this list may change, but it reflects the best information available at a specific time.
Determine the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which allows you to break down the work required to achieve the project’s objectives hierarchically.
Prioritize the triangle scope, i.e. time (time to complete the project), costs (budget and resources available) and quality of the project. Customer satisfaction is not taken into account.
- The Cycle plan (iterative)
In the Work Breakdown Structure, identify the activities that determine the functionality to be performed during this cycle.
Define precisely each task to be performed.
Establish the dependencies between each task.
Divide tasks into meaningful groups and assign these groups to different teams.
Each team determines a schedule with the resources allocated to the accomplishment of its tasks within the given deadlines and budget.
- Completion of the cycle (iterative)
Follow the detailed schedule to produce the functionality provided in this cycle.
Begin the work.
Follow and adjust cycle completion.
This cycle ends once the assigned time has elapsed. If a feature is not completed, it will be carried over to the next cycle.
Write down any change requests and ideas for improvement.
Create a problem log to track the status of their resolution.
- The customer control point (iterative)
The client and the project team review the quality of the functionality completed. If necessary, adjustments will be made in the next cycle.
Steps 2, 3 and 4 are repeated until full use of time and budget.
- Final report
Determine whether the expected operational results have been achieved.
Take stock of what you have learned and define how to improve the effectiveness of the method.
Advantages and disadvantages of APF
AFP is an ideal approach if you know the purpose of your project but you do not know how to achieve it, i.e. when the requirements are not clearly identified. This can happen more often than you think.
Adaptive Project Framework is not suited to construction projects as well as large-scale projects because its flexibility and iterative approach can cause delays in time and budget overruns.
The following disadvantages can be distinguished:
- A too much flexibility that can create constant changes in the customer because he knows that the structure can bear.
- Higher expectations: the proponents of the method claim projects with irreproachable results (which is rare), thus increasing the expectations of the client and the stakeholders.
- Repeat the job: as it is the client who is deciding, it can significantly modify a characteristic of the project, then change its mind and return to the original idea.
- Very little control over the project: in project management, it is essential to control the project and the requests for change. With this approach, the project manager has little control over his project.
Adaptive project management is used to get the maximum value for each project and avoid wasting your time on tasks that bring no added value. This method brings the ideas of agile methodologies to a higher level. It is a simple, customer-oriented and customer-driven approach. The total involvement of the customer is therefore essential to ensure the success of this method.