Agile vs. Traditional Project Management Methodologies

In recent years, the agile method has taken the project management and software development world by storm. Everyone seems to be talking about this project management methodology. The business world is changing rapidly and that’s why companies are looking for processes, approaches and methodologies that could help them run their business smoothly.

There are dozens of different project management approaches, but the final choice should be made keeping in mind the nature of the business and its requirements. Among all the methods, traditional (waterfall) and agile methodologies are often opposed.

If you want to know how these two approaches differ from each other and which one you should choose for your next project, you are in the right place. Below you will find a detailed differentiation of the two project management approaches.

What is traditional project management ?

Traditional project management is an established methodology where projects are conducted in a sequential cycle. It follows a fixed sequence: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and closure. The traditional approach to project management emphasizes linear processes, documentation, initial planning and prioritization. In the traditional approach, time and budget are variable and requirements are fixed, often causing budget and schedule issues. For each step, there are tools and techniques defined by the standard PMBOK® methodology that are followed by project managers.

Interestingly, it also includes other methodologies such as PRINCE2 which is followed by various UK government organizations and private companies like Vodafone, Siemens and others. It is also referred to as the Waterfall or cascading model.

Advantages of the traditional methodology: 

  • Clearly defined objectives
  • Controllable processes
  • Clear documentation
  • More responsibility

What is Agile project management ?

While Agile is a general approach used for software development, it relies heavily on teamwork, collaboration, time-bound tasks and flexibility to respond to change as quickly as possible.

The agile manifesto has four important values :

  1. The focus is more on people and interactions than on processes and tools.
  2. Functional software is more important than complete documentation
  3. Collaboration with the customer is more important than negotiation
  4. The process must respond to change rather than blindly following a plan.

Benefits of agile project management

  • Flexible prioritization
  • Fast and predictable delivery
  • Predictable costs and schedules
  • Improved quality
  • More transparency

The agile approach follows an iterative process where projects are divided into shorter sprints. Unlike the traditional approach, less time is spent on planning and prioritizing upfront, as the agile method is more flexible in terms of changes and evolutions of the specifications.

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