Project management has become one of the most critical pillars within any company since its establishment as one of the vital factors for proper operations. That's why corporations are looking for technologies, systems, or processes that help them personalize and optimize their project management. That's how the Agile Methodology (that we recently walked you through in a recent blog post) came about; nonetheless, there are still doubts over what method we should opt for. It’s time to open up the debate between the Agile Methodology vs. Traditional Project Management.
Technologies, work systems, a client needs all evolve in giant steps, and in one way or another, we need to be able to adapt. The Agile Methodology looks to bring that flexibility into the project management world and completely break away from traditional frameworks.
When conducting a consulting project, for example, there’s no longer a set of indicated steps for all projects; everything gets adapted in accordance to the individual needs of a specific client and modified when something unexpected comes up. We’re about to enter the era of personalization and flexibility.
There are some that think that having a predetermined roadmap that they would never diverge from, under any circumstance, is much better. Mainly, they prefer the more traditional and static route.
Agile vs. Traditional: What does each one entail?
Before making a comparison between both methods, it’s important to clarify what we mean by the Agile Methodology and Traditional Project Management.
Traditional Project Management
We used Traditional Project Management to refer to systems based on controlling work and following well-defined protocols where there tends not to have a place for last-minute changes or modifications We can say that Traditional Project Management's characteristics include:
- Large working teams
- Highly-defined working methods
- Strict deadlines
- Well-defined roles.
- Scant communication with the client.
The Agile Methodology
Agile has a much more open vision of a project and adapts to its needs. The methodology works to optimize time and human resources and deliver the value the client’s expecting. Its trademark characteristics are:
- Multidisciplinary teams
- Flexible project management
- Organized into small time periods
- Periodic deliverables
- Short-term focus
- Daily communications with the client
- Flexibility in the face of change
Differences between the Agile Methodology and Traditional Project Management
As you can see, both approaches spin-off from very different concepts. Therefore, choosing one over the other will imply a pivotal change in the way you manage projects.
Agile focuses on adapting to the changes and needs that come up in the day-to-day of projects; that’s why planning happens in a short-term timeframe. Working with a more short-term view lets teams add or get rid of tasks as needed. In contrast, in Traditional Project Management, where everything is much more "closed," it's more onerous to go outside the established roadmap, and agility's absence is noticeable.
On the other hand, on a project using the Agile Methodology, the client plays a pivotal role as they are in charge of establishing priorities and deadlines. The entire process gets personalized and adapted to the client’s needs. The best person to know what a company needs is the client itself. Not only that, the client is happy and feels in control of the development of the project.
Agile teams also play a prominent role since each one is responsible for a series of tasks that the team is accountable for; in essence, they are self-sufficient and self-manageable. There is a leader that organizes the work and talks to the client, but the hierarchies and traditional protocols that often slow down processes fall by the wayside.
Finally, the most critical metric for Agile project management methods is customer satisfaction and the value the team delivered to the client. While it is difficult to quantify, it is, however, the most critical part of the Agile vision.
As these are two disparate project management approaches, can they coexist? The truth is that many writers believe that the best idea is to use them separately because if they do get used in parallel, it could prove to be counterproductive.
But, how can we choose between one or the other?
While the Agile Methodology’s favorable aspects are indisputable, the fact is that both options can be equally appropriate based on the project we have at hand.
Although we currently can choose the project management method that adapts best to the project we’re working on, it will serve us well to say goodbye to closed projects to embrace flexibility and agility in managing them. As you can see, the advantages are numerous and will bring a lot of success to the firm.
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