Traditional Project Management vs Agile: Which is the best?

Agile project manager

If you are seeking an answer to the question ‘Traditional Project Management vs Agile: Which is the best?’, then you are in the right place.

But, before we discuss the same, we need to understand the term project management.

Project Management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve the project goals within the given constraints. This piece of information is usually included in the project documentation drafted during the beginning of the process.

The end goal of project management is to build a product that satisfies the client. And if you want to learn how to become an Agile project manager and deliver projects with the highest level of performance and quality as an agile project manager. With this, it’s time to discuss the two types of project management methods.

Types of Project Management Methods

The two most popular types of project management methods are-

1. Traditional Project Management

 Traditional Project Management is a methodology that consists of a set of developed techniques used for planning, estimating, and controlling activities.

This method is linear in nature so it works where there are no problems or changes in requirements or budget. This lifecycle is suitable for projects which have a predictable life cycle and tools.

Benefits

Traditional Project Management has its benefits which include-

  • Crystal clear objectives
  • Stable process
  • Detailed documentation
  • High accountability

2. Agile

Agile is the new age project management methodology which follows an iterative approach in breaking down the project into phases. The product development happens in increments called Sprints.

Each sprint lasts anywhere between 1-4 weeks. Agile finds its origin in the Agile Manifesto. The agile framework is centred around these 4 agile values-

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

The Agile Methodology functions on the following 12 principles-

  • Customer satisfaction through continuous delivery of the product
  • Divide large tasks into smaller parts for faster and achievable tasks for quicker completion and easier integration of changes
  • Adhere to the decided timeframe for the delivery of a working product
  • All stakeholders must frequently collaborate to ensure that project is headed in the right direction
  • Create a supportive environment to motivate team members and encourage them to perform better
  • Prefer face to face communication over other methods
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress
  • Strive to maintain a steady pace of development
  • Maintain the quality of the product by paying attention to the technical details
  • Keep things simple
  • Self-Organized teams produce more results
  • Self Reflection helps in correcting mistakes and improving performance

Benefits

  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Better predictability
  • Customer centric
  • Faster to market

Difference between Traditional and Agile

The table below clearly explains the difference between traditional project management and agile.

Traditional Project ManagementAgile Project Management
Product Development is divided into phasesProduct Development is divided into Sprints
It is a linear and sequential processAgile follows an incremental approach
Has a rigid structure hence isn’t flexibleAgile is flexible hence can accommodate changes during development
Development happens as one single projectThe entire project is split into phases which make each phase a distinct project
There is no room for any changes once the development startsAgile is flexible hence changes in the project requirement can be added even after the development starts
All the development processes such as testing, designing, and production is done only onceSince Agile follows an iterative approach, all the activities such as testing, designing, and production happens several times
The test plan is seldom discussed during the testing phaseThe test plan is discussed after every sprint
Traditional project management suits well for projects where requirements are fixed and changes are not anticipatedAgile works best for projects where changes keep happening during every phase
Testing is done after the build is finishedTesting happens in parallel with software development
Team coordination and synchronization is almost non existentSmall teams with dedicated members which are highly coordinated and synchronized
The product requirements are evaluated before the beginning of the developmentProduct Owners add new requirements in the product and sprint backlog as and when needed

Traditional Project Management vs Agile: Who is the winner?

In the ‘Traditional Project Management vs. Agile’ debate, the winner is Agile hands down. There are several factors that favours Agile over traditional project management. Be it transparency, accountability, customer feedback, or project structural process, Agile is the best project management method by miles.

But, how do you decide which to choose?

Here are some simple pointers to help choose the right approach-

  • Consider the project requirements. If they are bound to change then, go for Agile
  • New technology and traditional project management don’t go well together. Agile works best when there is new technology involved.
  • Risks and availability of resources should also be taken into account because Agile accommodates risks easily and it works best when there are limited resources.

This should settle the debate!

Author Bio:

Naveen Kumar Singh is an Agile Coach and a Professional Scrum Trainer (PST), facilitates Scrum Master Training, Scrum Developer, Product Owner, Agile, Kanban, and LeSS Practitioners as well as provides agile technical workshops. Naveen is active in the agile community and participates in major events as a speaker and volunteer. He has also presented papers in Global Scrum Gatherings as well as in many other Scrum Alliance conferences and meet-ups.

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