August 23, 2017

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Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile vs Waterfall

By Kevin Lonergan

Agile and Waterfall are two very different project management methods.  They both have clear pros and cons.  Some people argue that you can mix the two but others say: “you can’t be half Agile” and I have a lot of sympathy for this view.

Waterfall projects cascade through a series of phases with a requirements phase very near the start.  Developers then take this ‘statement of requirements’ and go through design and development.  Waterfall projects are usually delivered in a ‘big-bang’ way.

Agile is different. For more on Agile, read the Guide to Agile Project Management.

Agile does not attempt to define requirements in one go.  Instead, Agile produces the deliverable on an incremental basis and confirms the detail of the requirements around each increment.

Agile-Project-ManagementAgile encourages many practices that are really useful on projects, like:

  • face-to-face communication
  • constant involvement of users in the project
  • close co-operation between developers and users

Some of these things could potentially be used on virtually any project but not every project can produce the end-product incrementally.

To read the full article that expands on these statements and provides a detailed explanation of the most important pros and cons, read the Comparison of Agile versus Waterfall methods.

Guide to Agile Project Management

Agile Project Management GuideThe traditional methods used in the practice of project management are hindered by a number of drawbacks, which become more pronounced when trying to satisfy the needs that more complex projects often demand.

This article looks at how Agile Project Management aims to address these shortcomings with a more flexible and interactive model which allows an adjustment to requirements and scenarios in a more bespoke way, allowing the user more creativity and a greater level of control.

If you are still investigating the use of Agile at your organisation, read “A closer look at what Agile project management is” for an overview of Agile principles, the stages, roles etc.

For an in-depth look of the Agile project management approaches, benefits and challenges, I recommend the Agile Project Management Guide from Simplilearn.

As you will read, one of the founding principles of the system and fundamental differences between Agile and traditional project management is the fact that it focuses on people, relationships and working software as opposed to processes and tools.

Please let us know in the comments what you think and feel free to share the Guide.

Are you Considering Agile Project Management?

By Linky van der Merwe

If you are considering to adopt an Agile Project Management approach, to manage projects more efficiently in 2015, you would want to be clear on the trends, the benefits and the challenges that you can expect.

PMI-ACP-ExamWhen starting out, I would recommend that you read my article:

A Closer Look at What Agile Project Management is

 

It will help you to understand what Agile Project Management is, to discover the 12 Agile Principles, the 7 Stages of an Agile project, the roles, the Organisations and Certifications available, as well as Products to use to become Agile certified.

You should think about developing your organisation’s capability to use an Agile approach as a long term strategy. It is not a quick fix. Plan for your migration to a more Agile approach.

Also have a look at the Agile Report from Software Advice with research on agile project management software features that most drive efficiency, identifying features that are most beneficial for companies, their employees, and overall project success. It provides the trends found among software users implementing Agile project management solutions in 2015.

Key Findings

Some key findings from the Agile Report include:

  • 90% of respondents cited both workflow tracking and story mapping as the most efficient functionalities
  • 89% of respondents cited activity streams as the most used agile features
  • 49% of project managers cite difficulty training as the top challenge of agile software

Agile – Lessons from real Software Users

Find below the summary of the Agile Report based on a survey of project managers on what functionality and features of agile project management software have the greatest impact on a team’s efficiency. Before you make an investment in this software, learn more about how your peers are using these tools so that you can make a more informed purchase decision.

Project Management Life Cycle – Why We Need To Think Beyond Waterfall Versus Agile

By Bryan Burrow

Waterfall versus AgileOften when there is a discussion about project management life cycles, it quickly and inevitably comes down to talk about “Waterfall versus Agile”. That’s a real concern, because the selection of project life cycle is a crucial one. Let me explain why I believe that the over-promotion of “Agile” by comparing it with Waterfall is not just wrong, it can positively be dangerous.

When people talk about “Agile versus Waterfall” they mostly mean “Iterative versus step-by-step”, which is not quite the same thing.

When they talk about Waterfall and its disadvantages when compared to Agile, the concern is about the “one-step-at-a-time”, linear nature of the Waterfall approach. What they often don’t know, is that there are other life cycle models besides these two. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach.

There are circumstances where a Waterfall approach may be the right approach for you.

The main drawback with Waterfall is that a change in requirements midway through the project means going back to square one. However, there are times when you may want, or even need, to impose such a level of control over all or part of your project.

Agile Methods

The most common Agile method is Scrum, but it’s not the only one. There are other Agile methods, including Crystal Clear, Extreme Programming, Feature Driven Development and Test Driven Development. Your choice of Agile approach should depend on your circumstances.

Any Agile approach is pretty much dependent on giving users autonomy and the freedom to design what they believe is right. If your organisation can’t provide that freedom, under the direction of a product champion or key user, then none of these approaches are likely to deliver the results you want.

Agile does not eliminate the need for Analysts or Designers. With the advent of Agile methods some people have questioned the need for Business Analysts, Systems Analysts and Designers. The switch away from more formal methods doesn’t replace the need for Analysts or Designers; it just changes how they do their job.

Agile is a software development method, not a project management method.

Agile as a Long Term Strategy

If think you can use Agile safely for your entire project you’re in for a very rude awakening, especially if you’re running a project that:

  • involves a mix of software, hardware and services
  • requires procurement of third party products and services or
  • involves multiple suppliers where they are using different project methods.

If you’re new to Agile and think you’ll master it in one go, you’re wrong.

You should think about developing your organisation’s capability to use an Agile approach as a long term strategy. It is not a quick fix. Plan for your migration to a more Agile approach.

Tips for Agile

So, if you are intent on using Agile, what should you do? If you are planning to use Agile, here are five tips that will help you to do so safely:

#1:     Decide whether you’re ready to use Agile at all.

#2:     Develop your Agile adoption strategy.

#3:     Decide which parts of your project could best benefit from an Agile approach.

#4:     Start small.

#5:     Review and improve.

So the next time the subject of Project Management Lifecycle comes up in conversation, you’ll know that there is more to life, and to the success of your project, than Agile versus Waterfall.

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About the Author: Bryan Barrow works with Project Management Office (PMO) Managers, Project Directors and organisations that need to deliver more of their projects on time and within budget, so that they achieve their strategic objectives. Bryan’s new Guide to organising and planning project kick off workshops is now available. Visit bryanbarrow.com for more information.

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