Traditional vs AgileMuhammad Zeeshan Ali, PMP, PMI-ACP
In recent years, Agile Methodologies have gathered a lot of attention and have managed to attain a substantial level of popularity as well. The level of importance can be realized from the fact that PMI has now added a good portion of Agile methodologies in the updated version of the PMP exam. Both, Traditional and Agile, have their own strengths and can have advantage over the other based on the situation.
The scope visibility has to be clear for the whole project, in much more detail, if you are looking to adopt Traditional Project Management methodology. This means that you are absolutely clear about most of the things to do and when to do. If the scope is not clear and it needs to be elaborated and explored as the project moves on, then Agile methodology is the best suited solution in this situation. Agile allows changes throughout the project lifecycle and customers can change priorities as per need basis.
Due to fixed project scope in Traditional Project Management methodology, the schedule is also well-defined from the very beginning. Efforts for each phase and sometimes even for each activity is calculated before the start. That means all tasks have a start and completion date as well as target dates for major milestones. On the other hand Agile provides flexibility in terms of adopting schedules as per work and priority. One of other strengths of Agile methodology is that the same pace of work is there from start till the end of the project.
If we look in terms of Project Cost, the Traditional Project Management methodology has well-defined milestones and effort required for it thus “Fix Cost” contracts are suited to that. The payment milestones and cost management for the sponsor is much more simpler this way. On the other hand, Agile methodologies are more suited for the “Time & Cost” contracts. In situations where you are simply acquiring services for a specific time period till your objectives are met, Agile is the best solution. The engagement timeline and method can be altered as the customer requires.
In Traditional Project Management methodologies, you are aware when a resource has to be acquired and can manage the engagement or procurement accordingly. Similarly the predicted time of any potential risk is much more clearer. In Agile methodology, there is a flexibility that you can add resources to increase team velocity, as per requirement. Also due to small iterations, there is a much lower level of risk involved. This allows the team to experiment more and be more innovative because they know that in case of failure, they can revert back to other strategies in a short time and with minimal loss.
If we consider the involvement of 3rd party audit, then the Traditional Project Management methodology provides a very clear timeline that when the audit can be conducted with a mature level of output available. Sometimes, it is useless to conduct an audit of something that is still in progress and half cooked. It may not be able to determine the actual results. If we consider the 3rd party audits in Agile methodologies, then the advantage is that you can easily adopt the recommended changes. Also Agile allows strategy to test the actual things and adopt future strategy based on that.
As I mentioned in the start, both methodologies have their own advantages. The important thing to understand is which one is suited more for the project execution based on the circumstances. This understanding needs to be built at the top management and Sponsor level so they can adopt what is best suited for them. A common mistake is to adopt a strategy just because of the sake of adopting it and without considering the parameters. In such situations rather than following the standards to improve the project execution, the time is spent in trying to fit the execution into the adopted methodology.