Project management is a complex responsibility that involves many moving parts. Agile project management is an approach and a method of project management that is growing in popularity. Originally, the core values of agile management were created, implemented, and utilized by software development teams. Today, however, these principles have made their way into the mainstream. They are being adopted by organizations that want to make a greater impact on the end user experience. Agile is now embraced by marketers and product development departments who want to keep up with the evolving needs of their customers. These customers expect to receive products and services that cater to their preferences quickly and efficiently.
Below we will discuss Agile and Waterfall project management in greater detail, and introduce a hybrid approach of these 2 common methods that is often utilized in organizations that want to customize their approach.
Agile project management is about adaptability at its core. It looks at the whole large-scale project and then breaks it into smaller, more manageable phases to deliver faster outcomes. These smaller phases, referred to as sprints or iterations, allow for more flexibility in the process as a whole. It offers a freedom on every level to make appropriate changes as it progresses through each phase. It promotes collaboration among team members and across project levels. Agile project management allows for continuous adaptations with the ultimate goal of improving the final product.
The Agile project management approach offers a myriad of advantages, especially in this fast-paced era. Adopters of the Agile method enjoy the following benefits at every stage of development.
1. Greater Flexibility
Since the large-scale project is divided into sprints, making changes at any phase of the project is expected by all the team members. This expectation makes for easy adaptations that are supported by the team.
2. Open Collaboration
The whole team is involved in the planning and everyone’s opinions are valuable. No information is withheld or compartmentalized. Teams are encouraged to share information on a daily basis so members are always on the same page.
3. Enhanced Problem Solving
Since this approach predetermines that changes will need to be made in each sprint, team members are already poised to adapt. They have a certain degree of autonomy to make minor changes without prior approvals which streamlines the process.
There are other types of project management approaches that can work well in more structured settings. The traditional, or Waterfall approach is an effective method for projects that are already well-defined and constructed. It is a linear model that progresses forward in predictable and sequential waves. It requires one stage of the project to be complete before moving on to the next. Because of the time and flexibility constraints of the traditional method, it is not as widely used as the Agile approach today. However, for certain organizations that like to have greater control over their processes, the Waterfall approach does offer its share of benefits.
Having a detailed plan before the process begins, allows for team members to be clear on their specific roles and how their responsibilities relate to the next phase of development.
Since there is little to no “wiggle room” for adjustments to be made, the cost of the project can be estimated after the planning phase, before any work actually commences.
The benefits to the different project management approaches depend on the company culture, the organizational structure, and the project goals. The best skills for project managers are strong communication and time management. Those things will serve them well regardless of what method a company uses for their project management. Sometimes, a specific project will call for a customized approach. This is where a hybrid model can be beneficial. Hybrid project management is the practice of blending Agile and Waterfall methodology together. It prioritizes a structured and detailed plan from the beginning, but allows teams to use their full potential and make informed or creative decisions to move the project forward.