In this fast-moving world, project management has become one of the most important pillars that are helping businesses run without any glitch in their processes. Both small- and large-scale organizations around the world depend on project management systems to deliver their products/services successfully. Whether it is team workflow management or timing, these tools help to ensure that the processes flow in a hassle-free manner while achieving the desired goals.
Despite the presence of different project management approaches, Agile is considered as one of the most practical and flexible software development mechanisms that exist today. It is capable of executing a variety of tasks. Let us find out what sets it apart from others.
Here’s a brief comparison of Agile management and traditional project management software:
Traditional vs Agile Project Management
Overview of Agile and Traditional Project Management
What is Traditional Project Management?
The traditional Project Management (waterfall) approach is linear where all the phases of a process occur in sequence. Its concept depends on predictable tools and experience. Each and every project follows the same life cycle which includes the stages such as feasibility, planning, designing, building, testing, production, and support, as shown in the figure above.
The entire project is planned upfront without any scope for changing requirements. This approach assumes that time and cost are variables and requirements are fixed. The rigidity of this method is the reason why it is not meant for large projects and leaves no scope for changing the requirements once the project development starts.
What is Agile Project Management?
When a traditional system focuses on upfront planning where factors like cost, scope, and time are given importance, Agile management gives prominence to teamwork, customer collaboration, and flexibility. It is an iterative approach that focuses more on incorporating customer feedback and continuous releases with every iteration of a software development project.
The basic concept behind Agile software development is that it delves into evolving changes and collaborative effort to bring out results rather than a predefined process. Adaptive planning is perhaps the top feature of Agile and one that makes it a favorite among project managers, worldwide.
Scrum and Kanban are two of the most widely used Agile frameworks. They are very well known for encouraging decision-making and preventing time consumption on variables that are bound to change. It stresses customer satisfaction and uses available teams to fast-track software development at every stage.
The table below shows the major differences between Agile project management and traditional project management.
Table: Agile project management vs traditional project management
Why is Agile preferred over traditional project management?
Agile is preferred by most developers and managers because of a variety of reasons. Let’s have a look at the most common ones:
1. Project complexity
This method is the best fit for small or less complex projects as it follows a linear approach. Sudden changes in the project or any other complexities can block the entire process and force the team to go back to step one and start all over again.
This is the best methodology to follow in case of complex projects. A complex project may have various interconnected phases and each stage may be dependent on many others rather than a single one as in simple projects. So, Agile methods are preferred for large and complex projects.
This approach works with a belief that once a phase is done, it will not be reviewed again. So, it is not adaptable to rapid changes in the work plan. If any unexpected requirement arises or any variation is needed, the traditional approach fails to adapt to new changes. The only choice is to start from the very beginning once again. This wastes a lot of effort and time in the process.
The adaptability factor is very high in this methodology since it is not linear. Complex projects consist of several interconnected stages, where a change in one stage can cause an effect on another. Project managers can take calculated risks in such scenarios, as there is a chance of high adaptability.
3. Scope for feedback and changes
Each and every process is clearly detailed and defined at the start of the project in the traditional approach. It cannot deal with any big change or feedback that might require a change in the process. Mostly, the project delivery time and budget are fixed and allows change very rarely.
There is a high acceptance for feedback and change in this method. The process is very flexible and allows constant feedback that can help provide a better output within the fixed project delivery time.
The main reason why managers or developers choose Agile is for the flexibility it offers. Developers working with Agile management are able to respond to customer requests quickly as they are only addressing small parts of the project at a time and the customer validates each iteration or sprint before finalizing.
Below are some key features of Agile project management:
Breaks project into parts
Agile divides a project into parts (called iterations) where each release is sent to the customer after every single iteration. Additionally, the success of the project can be easily foreseen through the success of these iterations. This removes the need for upfront planning completely.
As mentioned above, Agile uses a parallel mode of management. Employees of a company are not managed by a central line of control, but by groups. For example, in Agile, there may be eight teams working on a single project. Each team is managed by itself without external guidance. The teams interact with each other for project discussion and process linking as they are otherwise not self-sufficient.
Generally speaking, an Agile project consists of three parts:
- The product owner – the expert on the project (for which the product is being developed) and also the main person who oversees the projects
- The scrum master – this person manages the process involved in Agile. He/she looks after the iterations and their completion
- The team – individuals who form the backbone of any scrum team or project.
In Agile, customer engagement is at the very top. The customer is regarded highly in its frameworks as after every iteration, feedback is generated and acted upon.
Overall, Agile is clearly the winner among project management systems. When compared with other traditional approaches, Agile’s features come to the fore and reiterate why it is one of the top software used by companies globally.
Can Agile Coexist with Other Approaches?
This is a question asked by many project managers and has created a division of opinions among experts. It is possible for Agile to coexist with traditional project management systems, however caution has to be exercised. For example, using two different approaches on the same project can be counter-productive. As Agile and many other frameworks are totally antagonistic to each other, the projects may go for a toss.
Therefore, it is best to use Agile along with other non-traditional project management methodologies like Lean to avoid any conflict.
Agile vs Traditional- Adoption Growth According to a recent online survey of 601 IT and development professionals, it is proved that Agile is the new typical formula for project success. The majority of projects and development teams are now adopting this methodology, while the traditional waterfall approaches have many flaws.
Agile was first introduced about 15 years ago as a substitute for traditional software development approaches. Many people considered it challenging to implement traditional approach practices. Agile adopters stated that this new style of software development improved team collaboration and was more customer centric.
Though Agile methodologies were present more than a decade ago, majority of organizations have adopted the practice only in the last 5 years. Moreover, the survey reported that Agile adoption saw an inflection point between the year 2009-2010. As shown in the above figure, Agile adoption seems to have slow incremental growth till 2008 and then its growth was accelerated after gaining traction in the market.
Reasons for the transition to Agile
Most of the organizations that transitioned from traditional to Agile project management have listed the following reasons:
- Improves collaboration between teams- 54%
- Enhances the quality level of software in organizations- 52%
- Results in enhanced customer satisfaction- 49%
- Speeds time to market- 43%
- Reduces development cost- 42%
In traditional software development, the customer is involved only at the start of the development process. Hence, by the time, the project reaches its culmination, a lot of errors and unnecessary expenditure would have happened.
Since Agile software development allows the customer to get involved at each stage, improvisations can be made then and there. This helps us in saving cost. Therefore, Agile project management is the real deal. It not only allows greater team collaboration but also paves way for superior results due to its flexibility.