Equipped to jump-start the Agile Engine

Mr Low Wai Mung, IT Deputy General Manager of Pacific International Lines Logistics Pte Ltd, attended the NICF - PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Preparatory Course to help him jump-start his own Agile project teams in bringing about better project integration and engagement.

NUS-ISS speaks with Wai Mung on to understand his Agile journey.

Mr Low Wai Mung (1st from left) and his classmates from the NICF - PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Preparatory Course (August 2014)

NUS-ISS:     Tell us about what you do at Pacific International Lines Logistics Pte Ltd.

Wai Mung:   Pacific International Lines Logistics Pte Ltd is a subsidiary of the larger Pacific International Lines group of companies. I am from the Information Services Department (Dept) of the parent company (hereto referred to as "PIL"). I've been with PIL since 2002, primarily overseeing the Applications arm of the IS Dept, that includes Application Development and Application Support. Besides the team based here in Singapore, I also oversee a team sited out of Chennai, India that similarly provides Application Development and Application Support services to supplement my main team in Singapore.  We provide IT & IS services to PIL, its subsidiaries, overseas branches, subsidiaries and agencies.

NUS-ISS:     Why are you interested in Agile?

Wai Mung:   The life-cycle of development has become increasingly fast paced and the traditional waterfall model is no longer practical nor sustainable for today's development landscape.  With a need to coordinate development work across 2 geographically separated locations, the challenges with delivering software solutions is hence exponentially increased.

While the RAD (Rapid Application Development) methodology that involves prototyping has somewhat yielded some degree of improvements, the Agile methodologies and principles bring forth a more practical development approach wherein the users/stakeholders are able to be more integrated and engaged with the project, and project progress and deviations can be better managed.

More importantly, with the right blending of the members in the Agile project team, there is greater collective ownership to the projects and this in turn enables team wins to preside over individual goals and targets.

NUS-ISS:     How did you find out about the PMI-ACP course?

Wai Mung:   From NUS-ISS circulars via email, I have previously attended other coursed organised by NUS-ISS.

NUS-ISS:     What made you choose NUS-ISS over other institutes?

Wai Mung:   Agile methodology is still fairly new in Asia (particularly Singapore) and Asian companies, and what I am looking for is a course-provider that can deliver an introductory approach to new adopters like PIL. NUS-ISS has given me a very positive impression on its ability to conduct courses that are both academic and practical. The lecturers are able to bring to the discussion their field experiences and are also impartial enough to solicit the views and experiences from the attendees/audience. Another key consideration is NUS-ISS’ philosophy of welcoming the attendees to continue to engage the lecturers after the course, which is a very valuable resource pool that we can tap on as we find our way around such a new skillset.

NUS-ISS:     How was your experience with the course?

Wai Mung:   Overall the course was very engaging and informative. The attendees were all very comfortable with sharing their experiences. The frequent injection of breakouts for group exercises was very effective in allowing the attendees to crystalise the academic concepts and facts.

NUS-ISS:     How has the course helped you in your work?

Wai Mung:   I've managed to take away from the course all the essential facts and information that can help me to jump-start my own Agile project teams.  In fact I had been so motivated with the flexibility of the Agile principles and methodology that I am even contemplating implementing Agile to my Application Support process as well.

NUS-ISS:     What is it like trying to implement the Agile Project Management Framework in your organisation?

Wai Mung:  There was a lot of skepticism at the onset, it was obvious in some of the comments that some felt that Agile cannot work for our projects. Basically there was a lot of resistance, but this was an anticipated fact that the course had prepared us for. It all boils down to whether we could pick out a 'right project' that is not too large and have a team of willing participants, to pilot this new methodology.

NUS-ISS:     What are some of the challenges you have in getting your management and subordinatesto buy-in into the Agile Framework?

Wai Mung:   The biggest challenge is the mindset change, and after we get over this obstacle, the other main hurdle is to have the discipline to keep the momentum. It is not easy to sustain the daily scrum meetings and the periodic cycle reviews. From the users/stakeholders, getting them to come on-board surprisingly was not as difficult as initially anticipated, there was a lot of enthusiasm when they learnt of the Agile approach that can allow them to more frequently be engaged with the project's progress.

NUS-ISS:     Do you plan to send your staff for more training in Agile?

Wai Mung:   Yes, we do intent to, in fact I had enquired with the lecturers on the intended frequency of this course and when will be the next intake.

For more information on the PMI-ACP course, visit NICF- PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Preparatory Course

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