Why Agile Works Today for Projects

The traditional “waterfall” approach for project management, which is the basis of all major frameworks like PRINCE2r, APM BoK, and PMBoK(r), works well in stable situations.
It is clear that the world in which PRINCE2(r was launched in 1996 has become more volatile, uncertain and complex. Waterfall approaches that encourage large-scale design at the beginning of a project are still applicable where we can be certain that the requirements will not change significantly over the course of the project’s life.
But, the volatility of operational drivers can be so disruptive to businesses that the customer often has to adapt. These drivers are not going to wait for the end of the project because of their urgency. This could mean that there are many changes during a project. This can lead to costly re-work and waste of effort in a waterfall process.
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Agile’s beauty is that customers can choose what they want to accomplish and see what suppliers can do. Agile’s approach is based on ‘learning by doing’, which allows teams to reflect on their experiences and adapt accordingly.
Four key elements of Agile…
Agile success is a combination of several key elements. You need a self-organizing team to start. Team members will feel more empowered and satisfied if they are not working in silos.
There’s also “timeboxing”, which focuses on fixing the cost and time elements of a project, but also allowing for the plan to evolve. With the help of a customer representative, requirements can be prioritized and reaffirmed as work progresses. Agile contracts between customer and supplier are vastly different from those of waterfall. Requirements can be flexible within the agreed parameters, but not time or cost.
Third, Agile practice will typically keep’must-haves’ to around 40%. It’s easy to place too many priorities in the’must-haves’ segment. Agile teams ensure that there are a limited number of tasks in the “doing” category to reduce complexity.
People engagement is an important part of Agile working. It is possible because different stakeholders work together more closely and have more control over what they do and how it is done. This is recognized as being more motivating than traditional ‘command and control’ approaches that are common among managers.
…and 3 Agile myths
Not everyone is ready for Agile, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to Agile.
This misses the point. There is no single way to organize and manage an Agile project. This is what makes it so appealing to some and so threatening to others.
Many people try to adopt Agile methods while maintaining a waterfall perspective. But this is unlikely to work. It is the Agile way to work that makes the techniques successful, not the other way around.
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