Don’t throw the champagne out with the cork: Abandoning traditional PM methodologies to embrace Agile principles.
Increasing productivity has always been an area of focus for project managers who rely on well-planned project management methodology to to deliver results. While methodologies and approaches to project management vary, it can be agreed that effective project management is set apart by strong planning, realistic expectations and good management, among other factors. While as project managers, it is important to be aware of industry trends and evaluate their incorporation into projects, it needs to be acknowledged that all projects are different and may require tailored approaches for successful completion.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius
Adopting Agile Principles
Agile Project Management follows a flexible strategy based on the principles outlined in the Agile Manifesto. This style is best suited to projects in quickly changing environments, where project needs and requirements evolve through the project. Some suggest that this approach is more suited to organisations with small teams due to the need to take quick decisions, or that agile methodologies are often adopted by start-ups as a way to experiment with ideas. On the contrary, agile approaches are well-suited for self-motivated teams (big or small), who are able to communicate effectively and adapt to the rapidly changing environment. Teams can apply feedback and continually evaluate the direction of the projects, ensuring that the final outcome requires much less re-work as issues would have been resolved earlier in the process.
But is Agile for Everyone?
“If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you expect to get there?” — Basil S Walsh
A construction project can never successfully implement agile principles because in this case, deliverables are not iterations. The same applies to marketing campaigns and certain creative projects where the deliverables are not increments or iterations that follow an adaptive process.
While agile has had a significant impact in the world of tech, it should be understood that agile is not the right approach for every software project. The essence of the agile methodology is that the end result is less predictable. Implementing agile is an intensive process that requires commitment and time, making it difficult for complex organisational structures to easily adapt to this approach.
Can Agile Principles be Blended with Other Methodologies?
Opinions on this topic are divided. Some organisations are successfully combining agile and traditional methodologies to improve predictability of the final outcome. Others exercise caution when implementing blended approaches as agile principles are in stark contrast with traditional methodologies, and combining these on a single project can be counter-productive and lead to disorder with the organisation.
While agile and traditional methodologies are very different from each other, it is important to understand the core advantages and disadvantages of both approaches before choosing one. While traditional approaches are suited to most projects, they are most fruitful in a stable environment with defined final outcomes. Implementing agile requires the satisfaction of some key prerequisites, the main one being the lack of the need for a defined deliverable. Agile is suited to self-motivated teams working in quickly changing environments. Choosing the “correct” approach or a combination of approaches is subjective to the requirements of each project.