The ball goes up, down low, fast, slow, left, right, front and back. As a squash player – or any kind of athlete – you have to be able to rapidly anticipate changing situations. Otherwise, you don’t stand a chance. Bulky, slow and untrained athletes are always at a disadvantage compared to quick, agile and fit competitors.

The parallel with agile working is obvious. In an ultradynamic era like this one, agile working – the ability to quickly react to changing insights – puts you at an advantage. But there’s one big BUT. A pitfall you might fall into as well. Many organizations see agile working itself as the holy grail. The tool with which to successfully complete all projects. They dutifully go through all the ceremonies and then sit back and relax. We did it right! To then find out, after a while, that some projects aren’t going very smoothly. Sound familiar? How come, and how to make the most of the power of agile working? Jan Willem van Asperen, Delivery Director at BPM Company, has 2 golden tips.

  1. Ensure a solid role for the Product Owner

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe. In an agile project, the appointment of the Product Owner is sometimes a bit too open-ended. However, this role should not be underestimated. A good Product Owner is the perfect hinge between business and IT. Someone to make sure that the final goal of the project is clearly formulated, but particularly also that it is completed on time and within budget. Someone to (thus) carefully monitor the whole process and constantly keep an eye on whether the backlog activities still align with the organization’s goals. The danger of a Product Owner not securing that process? You may work together to develop and optimize something great, but then realize at the end of the expensive process that it only has partial functionality. You’ll have gotten stuck in making details look better and better. The consequence: not achieving the end goal. Project failed.

  1. Look before you leap

Typically agile: getting started on your project nice and quickly. Getting that spade in the ground. But launching into work like that is digging a pit to fall in. Because not thinking things through at the start can make you realize after a few months that you missed something fundamental. There’s quite a difference between building a solution for 100 users or 10,000. Instead, take more time for the initiation stage. The agile gospel does say to produce as few documents as possible. But drawing up clear documents with concrete agreements about goals and solutions at the start of your project isn’t a bad idea. That gives you ground to support your project, which is good enough to start digging. So, do a good warm-up first before you sprint.

BPM Company applies both of these principles as a standard in all agile projects, Jan Willem says. “We are the implementation partner to one of our biggest clients. For this client, we had an elaborate preparation stage of six weeks together, but we mainly ensure a constant alignment of goals and backlog. Progress, timelines, governance, priorities, execution: everything is kept a close eye on and adjusted where needed. Only then can we achieve the goals. And as you can see, we absolutely believe in agile working, but we are critical in that process, purely to use that true power of agile working.”


If you’d like to know exactly how we get everything we can out of agile working, how we use it to optimally help our clients, or – one step back – if you’re curious about who we are exactly, contact us via Hans Steenwijk or Jan Willem van Asperen.

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