Advantages of the Agile Method
A good analogy for traditional project management is archery. The athlete initially spends a lot of time aiming for the target. He takes into consideration the environmental conditions to ensure the arrow hits the bull's eye. Agile PM is more like a game of golf. The player takes a look at the course beforehand and knows roughly where to go. With the first swing, he tries to get as close to the hole as possible, but it may take many swings. Where the ball lands after each swing can only be planned to a limited extent. The golfer must look at where the ball landed and adjust his plan after each stroke, and he must change direction accordingly.
Those who use agile principles, see changes as part of project work and agree at the same time that these changes produce positive effects. Agile management focuses on achieving business value, and as the project progresses and requirements change, delivery dates, resource usage, and cost are typically tightly defined.
A central element in Agile is the high level of client involvement throughout the project. This requires regular communication. The focus is clearly on customer acceptance and satisfaction. Intermediate results are delivered periodically so that clients can provide feedback. In other words, the end product to be delivered is initially only roughly known and will be specified during the project.
Agile project management also includes detailed planning, but only for short time periods. Work is done in iteration cycles and not in sequential phases. These cycles are for a fixed duration, and the process, use of resources and goal are specified.
Agile teams are independent and self-organizing, which results project managers having a less central role than in the traditional PM. Planning and leadership intensity deviates in favor of high adaptability and quick implementation.
In summary, the agile approach is particularly useful when projects:
- involve unclear requirements that will be worked out during the course of the project.
- are expected to be long-term with a complex scope.
- are characterized by a short time-to-market.
- take place in industries with a high-risk, constantly-changing environments.
- include tasks where the project team breaks new ground (for example, when developing a prototype or creating a new product).
- include goals that can be achieved incrementally (for example, an extensible software prototype or a marketing campaign).