Is agile the future of project management?

Welcome to Blog post #1

Its interesting how sometimes your hand is forced in life.

I have been answering on Quora (Quora is one of the leading question and answer sites on the internet) about “Agile Project Management” for approximately 3 months or so but more recently I have been feeling a little limited by the platform.

This has mostly been fueled by the same people appearing in the category “Agile Project Management” with very little new Agile Project Management ideas and mostly just touting there book, course or training company.

My goal when joining the Quora category was to increase the depth of my own knowledge on the principles required for passing the PMI ACP exam. However there are only a handful of posts I have read in the category over the past few months that have increased my knowledge significantly enough to recount right now. That being said when I have found good ones they have been quite exceptional.

So this has driven my interest in starting to blog on my own page and perhaps seek out others to create further discussions here rather than on the Quora moderated platform.

The action that has ultimately pushed me to start writing here (I will still monitor and post to Quora dont worry) is the fact that this post which I feel is valuable was removed from the site due to a strange decision made by the question monitoring automation. The part which was offending to the platform was the fact I had included a link back to my home website in the answer. I don’t really see this as unfair because I have tried to improve there platform category and have many top ranking answers in the Agile Project Management category so a simple link to my homepage didnt seem to extreme.

But enough about why the posting was deleted lets get to actually posting it so perhaps we can help some people and provoke some discussion.

In order to answer the original question of

Is agile the future of project management?

I will use an almost verbatim copy of the original content, so please remember this is quite Quora focused for a first blog but as I post more on this site that will no longer be the case for my content, without further narrative here is my answer to the question “Is agile the future of project management?

The definition of agile project management we will use to asses the future by will be reliant on one of my recent Quora posts found here to define what agile project management is:

Oliver Dolan’s answer to What is agile project management?

With the definition of project management in agile terms defined we can now address the not so simple yes and no answer to your question.

Is agile the future for project management?

Yes

  • The mindset and framework are constantly improving
  • The trends in google show it to be rising above traditional methodologies
    • As we see here scrum master is a rapidly growing term
  • The number of certifications and trainers are increasing
  • Experience and observations are accumulating
  • It can be adopted very easily
    • You dont have to do everything you can take what you find is the most useful. Its like Bruce Lee says:
  • Inefficiencies are being worked out
  • More and more teams are reporting successful adoptions
  • It is becoming more prevalent in job postings
  • Agile is a very broad term and so is protected by diversity
  • Faster adaption to change in the business’s needs
  • It often improves team performance
  • Product market fit becomes more probable due to feedback cycles
  • It generally increases individual contributor engagement
  • Stakeholders feel greater control over the delivered work
  • Team feels more united due to team commitments and cross functionality
  • Less documentation to maintain
  • Stakeholders stay more engaged
    • Leading to better products and processes
  • Information is more accessible to the business as a whole
    • Information radiators vs refrigerators
  • It aims to reduce wasteful activities which makes businesses more efficient
  • It is reflective by nature and thus each team is always improving incrementally.
    • Very similar to the marginal gains concept from Dave Brailsford
      • He is a leading cycling coach, albeit mixed up in scandals at the moment.
  • It is being applied in other industries than software
    • Agile Research
    • Agile Sales
    • Agile Retail
    • etc..
  • The product delivered to a consumer is constantly being refined and improved this raises the businesses credibility and trust in the marketplace which is very hard to replicate as a competitor or startup.
  • Faster cycle times and time to market are invaluable

 

Is agile the future for project management?

No

  • It is not a magic bullet for all project types
    • Gantt chart projects are still prevalent in the construction sector
    • It is often oversold by trainers as being able to fix all of a busineses value delivery problems
  • It has noticeable drawbacks
  • The success in applying the knowledge can be questionable
  • Its reputation is often tarnished
    • Especially when poor implementations of the concepts lead to failed projects.
  • Adoption can be slow
    • See directly above, rumors can spread fast amongst executives
    • Fear of change
    • Fear of the removal of the role “Project Manager” from agile methodologies
  • The terminology can be confusing
    • Story points
    • Velocity
    • Burndown
    • Value stream
    • etc..
  • Requires customers to accept modern ways of working
    • This is a little dangerous as you now have an external locus of control instead of an internal compass
  • The project management industry is very big and change takes time
  • The future is not known or predictable
  • Good project management is still based on common principles not an agile manifesto
    • Prioritization
    • Decision making
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Ability to adapt to unexpected changes
    • etc..
  • Sometimes its not always valuable to deliver in small increments
    • For example in some situations the solution needs to work completely end to end to actually be of value
    • Customer expectations on quality can be damaged with MVP approach
  • There can be alot of meetings depending on what parts are adopted this can be seen as wasted development time
  • Agile projects can be hard to agree contractually
    • This is actually an issue in some situations where the customer wishes to pay for an exact feature set instead of per iteration or a velocity based metric
  • Lack of clarity on what will be available when and whether something which was committed will actually be delivered to meet a time critical business objective
  • Scaleability can be tricky to get functional especially within large enterprises. There are some frameworks to consider:

I really hope this analysis helps you answer your question, I am personally of the belief that in knowledge based projects an agile methodology will likely lead to better results when compared against a traditional methodology.

However I still feel there are merits in using traditional methods where appropriate.

Please feel free to check out this answer also as it may help you by giving further information on the subject areas around the question asked.

Oliver Dolan’s answer to What is agile methodology and what are the advantages and disadvantages of agile methodology?

Hopefully all of this helps

Good Luck!

Oliver Dolan

So that is the posting in its entirety it was the top ranked answer after posting until it was removed by the automated spam monitoring bot.

I will try to post some more articles shortly, good to have blog post one done.

Hopefully this helps

Good Luck!

Oliver Dolan – www.oliverdolan.com

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