Agile and Project Management
by Stephanie Herman and Dr. Michael Crawley
With the popularity of Agile for managing projects, there is growing confusion about what that exactly means. Is Agile an approach? A method? A practice? A framework or a toolkit? If you choose to use Agile, does that mean that you should no longer use a traditional or waterfall approach?
To answer these questions, I sat down with Dr. Michael Crawley, Acuity Institute’s Authorized PMI® PMP® Trainer. Michael Crawley is a Project Management Professional® with over 20 years of experience in IT, project management, project management offices, and Agile organizations.
“Agile has its roots in software and IT. However, since about 2010, Agile adoption has been growing and expanding to the broader project management office. Furthermore, between 2012 through 2015, the Agile narrative began to be accompanied with solid, evidence-based use cases.” Quoting the Agile Practice Guide (2017) “Today the demand for ‘being agile’ is higher than ever”, Michael shared.
Defining Agile for Project Management
An Agile approach to project management aims for early, measurable ROI through iterative delivery of product increments that involve the customer throughout the product development cycle. In project management, the intent is to adopt a mindset that fulfills the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto. Those values include:
- Individual and Interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
While there is value to the items on right, agile value the items on the left more.
@2001, the Agile Manifesto authors
Is Agile the right approach?
There is no one right way to approach project management. In fact, a hybrid approach that combines the best of each of these approaches is gaining popularity in organizations. The point is to select a life cycle or a combination of life cycles that work for the project, the risks, and the culture. Hybrid approaches include:
- Combined Agile and Predictive Approaches: Used when some project aspects can benefit from short iterations, daily stand-ups, and retrospectives, but other aspects require upfront planning, work assignments, and progress tracking.
- Predominantly Predictive with Some Agile components: Used in cases when a portion of the project has uncertainty, complexity, or opportunity for scope creep. This portion of the project may leverage Agile, while the remainder is predictive.
- Largely Agile with a Predictive Component: Used in cases when the majority of the project can benefit from Agile but a particular element is non-negotiable/not executable using an Agile approach (for example: when a single integration is required as the component is delivered).
- Hybrid as Fit-For-Purpose: Used in cases when the project goal is to produce business value in the best possible way given the environment. Used to answer the questions, “How can we be most successful?” “Is feedback needed as the team produces value? “Is it necessary to manage risk as ideas are explored?
2017, Agile Practice Guide
|Traditional Approach||Hybrid Approaches||Agile Approach|
|Referred to by PMI ® as the predictive approach. Also commonly referred to as a Waterfall approach.
|Combines development life cycles (DLC): predictive, iterative, Agile and/or incremental, to achieve certain goals.
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