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Agile project management is considered as one of the flexible and interactive project management approach. Agile methodology, as its meaning would suggest, is adopted for rapid development projects. It is very much different than the traditional project management technique which is considered to be more structured and disciplined. Deliberate planning and designing various control methods is inherent part of the traditional style. Normally all the tasks are completed in a predefined sequence to ensure the success which requires lot of planning to be done up front.
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As the business processes became more and more complex they also became more interdependent than ever before. Along with the processes the organizational structure of business also changed in order to support complex communities, comprised of alliances with strategic suppliers, outsourcing vendors and partnerships and ever increasing competitors. With time-to-market compression and rapidly changing technologies fast track development has become the order of the day for most of the business. This increased importance of agile project management methodologies.
Agile management is derived from the agile software development and hence it is a variant of iterative life cycle process. In agile methodology, the evaluation of the project requirements and the end product/solution is a collaborative effort between self-organized, cross-functional teams across the organization or may be from different organizations.
Comparison with Traditional Approach
Agile project management methodology differs from traditional project management methodology which gives more attention to making ‘software development’ a better process and hence it gives importance to contract negotiation (managing scope), comprehensive documentation, maintaining and following a project plan with the help of various processes and tools. In contrast, Agile methodology gives stress upon working software and responding to constant changes and there by gaining customer satisfaction. Having frequent client interactions is one of the most important attribute to the success of this approach.
Challenges Associated with Agile Methodology
Many companies, such as IBM, have adopted agile development because of its underlying benefits of being flexible, simple and fast. The customer centric approach of this methodology makes it very popular amongst the customers and also the possibility of project being self supporting even in the initial stages lures businessmen towards it. Because of these and many other advantages the some of the inherent problems such scope management, risk management issues are overlooked. Normally these issues arise due to lack of planning and documentation for the project, which goes against the agile methodology. This also raises the possibility of indentifying problems/dependencies in the later part of the projects. The complete development becomes person dependant rather than process dependant and team dynamics and HR strategies in the company becomes key ingredients in the success of project.
It should be noted that as such process also adds an additional variable in the form customers. Customers get an influential seat at the table to shape the value proposition of the project as it unfolds. They are actively involved in the development process to establish, prioritize, and verify requirements at each and every stage. The ability of agile methodology to adapt to changing customer priorities and requirements keep the project current and relevant. But with such frequent changes in the requirements and scope of the project, strong commitment to the business milestones, which is one of the features of agile methodology, becomes difficult if the project is not managed properly.
Because of the high dependency on team dynamics it is often difficult to apply agile methodologies to large project teams and large scale projects, where better planning is required. But it suits the company having culture of innovation as the focus is never shifted from exploratory development to planning and controlling.
As seen above there are positives and negatives of both the project management methodologies. According a survey taken by one of the leading companies, about 50% of business correspondents claim that agile methods had been successful in about 95% of their projects, where are remaining say that such methods are still too premature and require extensive academic proof/research. I am hoping that through this research paper I am able to explore the challenges faced by such business correspondents while implementing agile project management methodology. I will try to find if adopting agile methodology guaranties success.
This paper will also focus on handling change management, risk management, HR issues and Team management issues. Research will stress on various ways of tackling these problems to increase the probability of success. The research will also touch upon adopting the traditional project management activities such as project plan, earned value analysis, balance sheets into the agile project management. The Common practices followed in different types of methodologies for agile project management such as SCRUM, XP, CRYSTAL, EVO will also be discussed in this paper.
Project Management the Agile Way: Making It Work in the Enterprise
By John C. Goodpasture
The Blending of Traditional and Agile Management By Kathleen B. Hass, Published in PM World Today – May 2007 (Vol. IX, Issue V)
Agile Project Management Methods for IT Projects By Glen B. Alleman
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