Agile Project Management Vs Traditional Project Management

Posted December 10, 2016

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile Project Management is built around a flexible approach. Team members work in short bursts on small-scale but functioning releases Add to My Personal Learning Plan of a product. They then test each release against customers’ needs, instead of aiming for a single final result that is only released at the end of the project.

The end product of an agile project may be very different from the one that was envisaged at the outset. However, because of the checking process, team members can be sure that the product is one that customers want.

This makes Agile Project Management particularly appropriate for new or fast-moving businesses, for those in a fast-changing environment, or for highly complex situations, where managers are “feeling their way forward” to find the optimum business model. It’s also helpful with urgent projects that can’t wait for a full, traditional project to be set up.

Agile Versus Traditional Project Management

Let’s compare Agile Project Management with traditional project management to show how the approaches differ.

Agile Project Management

– Teams are self-directed and are free to accomplish deliverables as they choose, as long as they follow agreed rules.
– Project requirements are developed within the process as needs and uses emerge. This could mean that the final outcome is different from the one envisaged at the outset.
– User testing and customer feedback happen constantly. It’s easy to learn from mistakes, implement feedback, and evolve deliverables. However, the constant testing needed for this is labor-intensive, and it can be difficult to manage if users are not engaged.
– Teams constantly assess the scope and direction of their product or project. This means that they can change direction at any time in the process to make sure that their product will meet changing needs. Because of this, however, it can be difficult to write a business case at the outset, because the final outcome is not fully known.

Traditional Project Management

– Teams are typically tightly controlled by a project manager. They work to detailed schedules agreed at the outset.
– Project requirements are identified before the project begins. This can sometimes lead to “scope creep,” because stakeholders often ask for more than they need, “just in case.”
– User testing and customer feedback take place towards the end of the project, when everything has been designed and implemented. This can mean that problems can emerge after the release, sometimes leading to expensive fixes and even public recalls.
– Teams work on a final product that can be delivered some time – often months or years – after the project begins. Sometimes, the end product or project is no longer relevant, because business or customer needs have changed.

Ultimately, traditional project management is often best in a stable environment, where a defined deliverable is needed for a fixed budget. Agile is often best where the end-product is uncertain, or where the environment is changing fast.