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21.02.2023,  Story

«Agile project management makes us proactive as a team.»

Christa Hillebrand is a project manager at the Berlin office. She is a strong advocate for agile working methods at Burckhardt. Here she reports on what it takes to apply them successfully and on her experience in practice.

Agile project management in an architectural office: What does this refer to exactly?

Agile project management goes hand-in-hand with traditional working methods. It is a modern alternative, since our projects are becoming ever more complex. The very clear advantage it offers is that of close, transparent collaboration between all project participants. In our office, for example, we work with agile methods such as Scrum and Kanban, communication platforms, such as Teams or digital whiteboards, such as Miro board. These require a fundamental willingness to communicate openly, at all levels. Which lets us concentrate on the essentials and avoid unnecessary steps. The primary goal is, of course, a successful project!

What is your role in the Burckhardt team with regard to agile project management?

About two-and-a-half years ago we launched one of our biggest projects for agile project management at the Berlin office. We didn’t have to impose a new structure here but were able to build on our client’s existing agile structures. The project, with around 100 participants, fired my enthusiasm for the topic!

How has agile project management changed your team?

We work more efficiently and travel less. Through well-run workshops in regular four-week cycles we call ‘Sprints’, we work very closely with our client and the various specialist disciplines, especially at the beginning of a project. In this way we achieve shared results much faster. However, this presupposes that we take sufficient time with the client and that, in the best case, he already has a precise idea of his needs. This is particularly true in the life science sector, which is my main focus at the moment. Here there is a counterpart for each discipline, the Subject Matter Experts, who work with us to guide the project to success.

How do you pass on your knowledge about agile project management to new staff?

We specifically select the projects that particularly benefit from agile methods. To start with, we organize professionally run two-day workshops (e.g. with “Brainbirds”) so that the whole team is on the same page with regards to APM. After that, the teams – especially in the initial phase – are accompanied by professionals in the subsequent iterations in order to get to know and assign the different roles of those involved (e.g. product owner, developer, Scrum master). In the long run, we want to train APM specialists from our own ranks for each location, who will then be available to their colleagues APM advisors.

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