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Agile Methodologies Comparison and Convergence

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Last updated on
31st Mar, 2022
31st Jan, 2013
Agile Methodologies Comparison and Convergence

It pays to be a member of PMI  and feels good when you get a copy earlier than others! The copy has been made available last month to all PMI members. Thank you PMI. Copy for public distribution is expected be available in this month.

In this post, we will see how PMBOK guide, one of the most referred one worldwide in management practices, talk of Agile. I have been following PMBOK closely since its 3rd Edition on which I was certified. In 5th Edition, there has been significant changes as compared to 4th Edition. But, till 5th Edition, PMBOK, never mentioned the Agile word explicitly in its guide.

Before, we go into the Agile and PMBOK, let us take a look at how many times, PMBOK has mentioned of Agile.

Number of times Agile word mentioned in PMBOK 3rd Edition – 0
Number of times Agile word mentioned in PMBOK 4th Edition – 0
Number of times Agile word mentioned in PMBOK 5th Edition – Around 5 to 7 times!
Now, does it mean that PMBOK suddenly wake up to Agile standards? No! For long, PMBOK has talked of Iterative approach with incremental delivery. PMBOK also talked of rolling wave planning, i.e., plan will be cleared as and when the project progresses. Complete Plan may not be clear in the beginning.

However, for the 1st time Agile word has been mentioned in PMBOK guide, with the growing adoption of Agile and understanding that how volatile many project may become – especially in the software world, where requirements keep on changing all the time!

Comparison: PMBOK Vs Agile
True to its continuous saying, PMBOK says in its 5th Edtion that it is a Guide and NOT a methodology – like Agile, PRINCE2, Waterfall. So, if you want to take on comparison, PMBOK has been explicit – Its principles also can be applied to Agile and some of its heavy or light forms, but in no may it is saying you follow one in particular. In simply words, PMBOK and Agile need not be compared.

Convergence: PMBOK And Agile
The 5th edition of PMBOK talks of 3 types of life cycles in a project.

1. Predictive Life Cycle – Can be completely planned beforehand
2. Iterative and Incremental (I & I) Life Cycle – Was there also in earlier PMBOK guides, but has been more clearly defined.
3. Adaptive Life Cycle – Here Agile is mentioned explicitly.
But then how come it is different from Iterative and Increment development cycles. Good question! In Adaptive cycle, as compared to I & I cycle, the churn is high, the predictability is low and speed of execution is faster. Agile manifesto talks of 2 to 4 weeks of cycle and delivery at the end of each iteration. Please note that delivery does not mean it is to be shipped, but it is potentially shippable. The later part also falls into one of the 12 principles of Agile.

Also, in PMBOK in certain sections Agile has been mentioned and how the plans to be treated in Agile mode is mentioned.

But, having said that, does it mean that PMBOK has completely explained on how exactly Agile will be followed? I do not think so. There are many areas with confusions – such as WBS, Activities, Contracting methods, Baselining concepts (and hence EVM), Dependencies et al – which needs far better understanding for someone who follows Agile principles! We will check on in on later posts.



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