Agile Project Management and Public Policy Development Projects: A case study from New Zealand

Maryam Mirzaei, Unitec Institute of Technology

Victoria Mabin, Victoria University of Wellington

Abstract: Agile project management methods such as Scrum are being used increasingly in a wide range of contexts, including the public sector. This paper reports on a policy development project within a New Zealand government agency, which experimented with Scrum. Data collected from multiple semi-structured interviews and project documents were analysed using Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes (TP) tools, to understand the cause and effect relationships between a project’s variables and its outcomes. The TP tools were particularly powerful for identifying conditions assumed by Scrum which were not true in our case study, relating to the customer’s role and the nature of project deliverables. The TP tools were also used to analyse the project manager’s adaptation of Scrum to accommodate these specific requirements of this project. The case demonstrates that policy development shares standard project management concerns and would benefit from being managed as a project.

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