In Part 2 of this article Áine Greene outlines a summary of the secondary data collated through a literature review. The conclusions from an analysis of the primary data are then presented with recommendations for future work. Part I can be read here

A comprehensive literature review was conducted, identifying pivotal studies associated with the research question and the supporting objectives.

For this article, a high-level summary is presented concerning the project management (PM) frameworks of traditional project management (TPM) and agile project management (APM) and the blending of APM with TPM.

Traditional Project Management (TPM) 

TPM emerged from the construction, engineering and defence industries dating back to the 1950s. The Project Management Institute (PMI) was founded in 1969 to serve the PM profession and today is the world’s leading PM organisation. 

The PMI initiated a project in 1981, to further the development of PM, producing the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide. The PMBOK addresses the management of projects and in particular project development life cycles. Development life cycles can be predictive, iterative, incremental, adaptive, or hybrid. TPM was considered in the context of predictive life cycles for this study.

TPM can be considered as involving extremely disciplined planning and control methods that encompass project life cycle phases that are easily recognisable. The five core PM process groups from the PMBOK follow the sequence as per Figure 1.

The sequential nature of task completion is notable, which requires a significant part of the project to be planned upfront. In the PG industry, it is accepted when refurbishment projects, with a clearly defined fixed scope, are planned, the merits of a TPM approach are proven. 

Agile Project Management (APM) 

The beginning of APM is associated with the publication of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, which combines agile values and principles for software development. In addition to the Agile Manifesto, more recently several resources are available which describe APM practices and techniques, outlining many APM variants for organisations to choose from.

APM was considered in the context of adaptive life cycles for this study, as assessed in the PMBOK. However, defining the exact variant of APM in the context of the research question was outside the scope of the time-bound study. Figure 2 outlines the process groups in continuous phases for the adaptive life cycle.

The PMBOK, in its current sixth edition, has evolved to reflect emergent PM trends. Since the fifth edition in 2013, it is evident that there has been more adoption of agile methodology in the management of projects.

The sixth edition includes a specific subsection called ‘Considerations for Adaptive Environments’ concerning each of the 10 knowledge areas. It also includes some agile specific tools and techniques with a dedicated appendix to the description of the use of agile approaches concerning the five process groups.

Furthermore, in 2017, the PMI and Agile Alliance produced an Agile Practice Guide in response to project teams using agile in a variety of industries beyond software development. Thus, the increased recognition by the PMI of APM validates the growing popularity of its application beyond its original software and IT sectors. 

TPM and APM 

Some scholars regard the PM frameworks of TPM and APM as somewhat incompatible, while there is also a view that both frameworks are not mutually exclusive but complementary.

The APM approach focuses on people, implementation and collaboration, whereas the TPM approach focuses more on planning, processes and documentation.

While TPM and APM may appear to be conflicting frameworks, it is construed that the gap between APM and TPM is closing as TPM moves towards a more behavioural and responsive stance.

The PMI provides further evidence of this closing gap as it moves to a principles-based standard for the upcoming edition of the PMBOK. The seventh edition, expected in 2021, is based on a principles approach with a full value project delivery landscape of predictive, adaptive and hybrid, and significantly this is considered indicative of a further notable shift in the mindset of the PM community. 

Blending APM with TPM 

The importance of having an appropriate PM methodology to ensure efficient project delivery is paramount. The goal of a chosen PM framework is to increase the probability of successful project delivery.

It is contended that for complex, uncertain, and time-limited projects, sole use of TPM conventional methods may be unsuitable and project overruns likely result from using inappropriate PM methods.

The incorporation of aspects of newer methodologies and similarly, consideration of the importance of differentiation in size, uniqueness and complexity of projects emphasises the necessity of tailored management methods.

The literature strongly argues that presently a pure TPM approach is no longer effective. A blended approach incorporating the agility required to adapt to changing priorities and environments is advocated for.

Further substantial evidence was outlined which concluded that one framework is not enough, and there should exist the possibility to adapt blended frameworks to specific projects as applicable.

Significantly, the key implication drawn from the literature review overall is that there are benefits to be gained from a blended approach, as illustrated in Figure 3 by author Michel Thiry.

The study’s literature review continued to examine the benefits of a blended approach, considered the concept of agile adoption to improve project performance and challenges to APM implementation based on numerous empirical studies.

While ample literature evidence was presented to support answering the research question, it was notable that no substantial refurbishment projects data, specific to the PG industry was found.

As such, this highlighted a gap that warranted further investigation, hence the rationale for gathering primary data from elite industry PM professionals. The focus will now shift to the study’s main findings based on an analysis of this data, which led to the ensuing conclusions and recommendations.


The blending of APM and TPM frameworks was investigated. Ample secondary data was presented to support effective blending and confirms the possibility of both frameworks co-exiting. However, minimal secondary data specific to refurbishment projects within the PG industry was found, confirming a literature knowledge gap.

Significantly, primary data was obtained, which verified the current dominance of a TPM approach in the industry. While a traditional approach and mindset were evident, the participants outlined fundamental reasons for the ineffectiveness of their current organisational PM approach.

Furthermore, no evidence was found among the participants of APM practitioner experience. While participants knew of APM, this was from academic backgrounds, as such, the level of practitioner awareness of APM within the PG industry was negligible.

Interestingly, there was minimal evidence of agile behavioural practices being utilised, however without labelling as APM. Finally, support for the blending of PM frameworks was found.

Substantial secondary data was outlined to support the benefits of agile adoption to improve project performance. The study found that the success of APM adoption in dealing with uncertain project situations in other industries may be transferable to the PG industry.

The primary data confirmed scope uncertainty as the main source of complexity arising during a refurbishment project and the significance of schedule and quality as key performance criteria.

It was evident that any project issues, which contribute to a schedule overrun result in significant commercial losses, while greater collaboration was identified as a means to minimise delays. Significantly, the extension of a planned maintenance outage even by one day has considerable commercial implications for utilities.

The risk management processes currently adopted were deemed unsuitable for addressing ‘as founds’ and are further considered ineffective for preventing schedule delays. Notably, the primary data advocates for the adoption of APM as an alternative approach to address the specific industry problem the study set out to investigate.

Five potential challenges to APM implementation were identified. The challenges originated from secondary data, which was subsequently validated by primary data.

The challenges highlighted were in the context of preparing for successful APM implementation. Furthermore, support was found for APM existing as an organisational subunit to be applied to ‘as founds’ specifically during refurbishment projects.

At the same time, TPM would continue to be used to manage the clearly defined scope. Finally, the typical composition and location of refurbishment project teams were established to be small teams, with a mixture of collocated and distributed members.

An issue related to distributed members has been minimised following evidence of an existing agile mindset, as demonstrated during COVID-19 and the ability of employees to adapt to changing requirements. Significantly, to overcome the implementation challenges identified by this study, adaptive employees are fundamental.

Overall, the study concludes that sufficient evidence is provided to confirm the benefits of adopting an agile approach with TPM to improve the performance of refurbishment projects within the PG industry.

Arising from the analysis and considering the short time frame this study was bounded by, some recommendations are made for future research and practice in the context of considering a larger sample population and additional utility organisations.

Recommendations for future research

This study endeavoured to address a literature gap. Three recommendations for future research are suggested to build upon filling the identified gap.

First, a framework for implementation of an alternative approach on refurbishment projects incorporating the blending of APM with TPM is required to determine the mix between predictive and adaptive approaches.

While it is envisaged under the refurbishment project umbrella that TPM would apply in the case of a clearly defined planned scope and APM would apply to manage ‘as founds’, further research should be considered to validate the optimum mix. A means to develop this framework and a new blended approach life cycle is through a pilot project study as shown in Figure 4.

For such a study, it is recommended that an action research (AR) project, would reap substantial benefits. An AR strategy focuses on the management of a change and involves close collaboration between practitioners and researchers. AR, as shown in Figure 5, with a longitudinal time frame and a minimum of three cycles, would undoubtedly be invaluable in determining a suitable framework.

Second, this study overall discussed APM in the context of the adaptive life cycle as defined by the PMI. There are many facets to APM, with Scrum, defined as a set of management practices that facilitate agility, being considered the leading variant.

While the 14th Annual State of Agile survey (2020) states, Scrum is the most widely used APM methodology, other variants such as Kanban, Lean, and Extreme Programming (XP) can also be adopted. Defining the exact variant of APM in the context of this study was previously identified as outside the current study’s scope.

However, future research should look to determine the most suitable variant of APM to adopt on refurbishment projects within the PG industry. A PMI abbreviation ‘WoW’, which stands for ‘way of working’ is considered as an emerging PM trend coupled with the promotion of a Disciplined Agile (DA) approach to optimising your way of working.

Accordingly, additional research to determine the most optimal way of agile working in the case of refurbishment projects within the PG industry seems warranted. It is evident from the literature gap identified that no collaboration between the PMI and PG project management practitioners has occurred to date.

The researcher considers that such a partnership between practitioners in the field and the PMI as a professional body has the potential to provide substantial value, with a pilot project as a suggested forum to facilitate a collaborative effort.

Third, a supporting objective was to identify challenges to APM implementation. Numerous scholars suggest that related to this subject is the establishment of success factors for effective implementation of APM.

Similarly, a related subject is the identification of APM enablers. The inclusion of an assessment of success factors and enablers was outside the scope of this current study. However, it is recommended for future research on refurbishment projects within the PG industry.

Recommendations for practice

This study recommended three relevant practical implications for practitioners.

First, evidenced from participants' responses, was the issue of training, education and coaching required to increase APM awareness in the industry. Education is undoubtedly critical to the successful implementation of APM, with a comprehensive understanding of APM concepts required by practitioners and project managers specifically.

Moreover, management support to facilitate investment in training and education is required and fundamental to obtaining this support is the concept of ‘selling’ APM as a source of gaining CA. Furthermore, ‘pitching’ APM adoption to management as a continuous improvement project may also assist with obtaining support.  

Second, refurbishment projects are common across several industries. Consequently, the adoption of this study’s findings across industries warrants consideration with potential value to be shared among PM practitioners.

There are many additional elements which contribute to project complexity, including scope uncertainty. This study advocated for APM adoption to manage increasing complexity due to scope uncertainty.

Other common sources of complexity comprise the organisation, ie people involved and relations, operational and technological, planning and management and environmental.

Therefore, it is inferred that the use of APM on refurbishment projects across other industries which are plagued by poor performance due to these main sources of complexity is worthy of further investigation. Similarly, this investigation may uncover beneficial findings to be applied from other industries to refurbishment projects within the PG industry also.

Third, the adoption of APM with TPM should be trialled initially on a pilot project. This would involve the adoption and application of APM to address ‘as founds’ and blended with the traditional approach. A pilot project would provide an opportunity to address the main challenges identified as part of APM implementation.

Such a pilot project would require comprehensive training and education at its core to address the challenge of the misunderstanding of APM concepts, particularly concerning documentation requirements. Equally of importance would be the inclusion of a means to empower individuals with sufficient authority for prompt decision-making.

Moreover of significance would be the promotion of an agile mindset in a traditional environment and a suitable change management programme including consideration of measures to overcome any organisational culture-related issues such as resistance to change.

Furthermore, central to a pilot project would be the application of a framework for implementation to determine the optimum blended mix of APM with TPM and also defining the exact type of APM variant to be adopted. Both of these requirements are recommendations for future research and are notably intertwined with practice recommendations. 

It is widely suggested that any research aims to develop our knowledge: to improve practice and performance. This study endeavoured to meaningfully address a specific industry problem with recommendations made for future research.

Conclusively, both sets of recommendations are strongly interlinked with a pilot project in practice being salient to achieving further advancements.

The author calls upon industry professionals and PM practitioners who may be interested in facilitating further research through a pilot project to contact her and jointly strive towards the achievement of knowledge development while simultaneously improving practice and performance.

Part I can be read here

Author: Áine Greene, BEng, MSc PPM, CEng MIEI, project manager, Atlantic Projects Company (APC), has17 years’ experience across the power generation industry in the key areas of project management, plant engineering, maintenance, operations and construction. E: Tel: +353 86 701 8727; + 44 7523 513121