Project Management: Replacement of Traditional One with an Agile Approach

Most of the organizations in the world have implemented project management successfully and achieved better and sustainable outcomes. But, in today’s dynamic, global, highly competitive and complex business environment, the project management approach is turning out to be a little difficult one to implement due to its rigidity and highly process-oriented methodology. Out of the several techniques to resolve this rigidity, agile project management is found to be one of the most successful approaches. It is considered to be the most flexible and capable approach, which can execute several varieties of tasks simultaneously.

The traditional project management approach adopts a linear sequence of completion of events one after the other known as "waterfall" methodology. All the events and tasks of the project are planned well in advance, and are completed one after the other passing through different phases of a project known as "Project Life Cycle." In general, these phases are known as define, plan, execute, and close. All these four phases are commonly followed in each and every project. The project scope statement is prepared well in advance and the possibility of making changes to the scope is very rare. Due to this, the projects that are generally of longer duration face severe deviations in planned versus actual budgets and timelines.

Contrary to this traditional approach, the agile approach adopts an iterative approach (projects are implemented in small packets of works) which enables it to incorporate an element of flexibility in the scope and dynamic modification of project based on client’s requirements. It focuses on working along with the needs of the customer throughout the project, instead of freezing them at the beginning itself. The agile approach uses flexibility-enabled software for completing the tasks of the project through adaptive planning. According to the Project Management Institute (www.pmi.org), adoption of the agile approach is rapidly increasing in many industries and it is not limited only to Software and IT projects. Whereas the traditional project management is useful for tangible deliverables, the agile is found to be more useful for intangible and knowledge-oriented deliverables.

In traditional projects, the deliverables are not visible to the client until the completion of a very long duration of the project, whereas, in agile, the client can visualize the deliverables in small chunks within a very short duration. At the same time, the changing needs of the client can be incorporated at every chunk of the agile project. This increases the client’s satisfaction and at the same time enables flexibility and adaptability in the project.

Most commonly used agile processes are Scrum, Scrum/XP hybrid, Custom Hybrid, Scrumban, Kanban, and Iterative development. Out of all these, Scrum is the most popular agile methodology designed to guide the members of project teams in the step by step iterative methodology and the delivery of the product to the customer in a phased and incremental manner. Popularly, the Scrum is also called as "A Framework of Agile Project Management." It enables the project teams to quickly respond to changes in an efficient and effective manner and dynamically modifies the time and cost of the project to suit the client’s requirements. This is achieved through the usage of tiny slabs of time, known as "time boxes," and a collaborative approach with the client. In agile projects, the traditional project manager functions as a "ScrumMaster." Some of the examples of usage of scrum include social justice, venture capital projects, sales, marketing, finance projects, and portfolio management. Scrum works in a "lean way" and executes the projects through the continuous involvement of customer and project team to develop the right outcome as per the requirement of customer.

Today, the popularity of agile project management approaches has already spread to almost all industries. Some of the industries where agile approaches are widely used are, software, information technology, construction, pharmaceuticals, medical devices manufacturing, mobile and telecommunications, and electronic products manufacturing, etc.

It is expected that very soon project management will be totally replaced by the agile approach in many sectors.

 

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