Comparing Project Management Approaches

Project management consists of many aspects such as the goals to be achieved, planning for the project, executing and implementing what was planned, monitoring progress of the activities among many other procedures and phases. A project will require patience to complete since the costs and time scale may exceed over the way it was planned. The traditional project management was also referred to as a task based while the agile project management was referred to as the feature based management. Research has shown that whenever there is a kind of transition from one kind of project management to the other, estimation technique is the one that is conspicuously challenging (Richards 2007, p. 73). The mode of estimation in the traditional project management is normally task based.

On the other hand, for the agile project management, it is normally feature based whereby the estimation is purely based on the size of the characteristics. It is not time-bound and the tasks are at liberty to take as much as they require. In the traditional project managements the arrangements in terms of planning initially were made without many alterations. This is what governed the project management all the way.

One cannot fail to note that in this traditional approach, the project managers were not readily available to help in countering the challenges that faced the project. They did not offer leadership qualities to the staff and instead they were somewhere in the comfort of offices or doing unrelated things. However, in the agile project management it was always a subject to change and alterations are made immediately the need arises. It is the complete opposite of the traditional project management (Augustine 2005, p. 96). The project manager is at the frontline in this process and offers leadership in conducting the day-to-day activities. This kind of project management is necessitated by the fact that stakeholders may not be in a position to clearly understand or comprehend why things have to pan out the way they do. Their lack of experience and patience may result to unrealistic demands. They may hinder smooth running of the project. Agile project management embraces planning at all levels. This creates accuracy for the estimates produced. The mode ensures that the estimates are only on what one can see and it eliminates predictions that may not make sense at all.

Traditional Project Management Approaches

This approach seeks to find the main aspects of a project, for example the budgetary allocations, the schedule and the scope. As the project progresses, there is the need to ensure that changes are minimal if not none. However, projects are encountered with many uncertainties such as increased budgeting. The control methods and kind of planning is what distinguishes the two approaches. In the traditional approach it is very strict and is followed to the letter. The life cycle of these projects will thus be very distinct. The tasks will be consequential and will follow a certain series. This is basically a result of planning that had been done beforehand. For example, a project of coming up with a structure, the project manager and his/her team will have to see to it that designing and prior planning for the structure is done so as to be successful. There is an assumption that the order of events is predictable and the day-to-day activities of the project should be understood by all the stakeholders.

In the traditional project management, once an activity or phase has been completed, it is not revisited. The main advantage of this approach is that the importance of requirements is greatly emphasised and the steps for growth are clearly spelt out. However, it has limitations such as the fact that following an orderly flow becomes a challenge. Clients will also find it hard to spell out all that is required initially before or just after the project has began (Haugan, 2011, p. 116). The traditional project management has proved to be very effective especially in projects that are similar to others done beforehand. This is due to their formal nature in terms of budget, scope and time frames that they have. Traditional project management has proved to be very successful especially in projects that do not require any customizations. This type of management relies heavily on the leadership of a manager thus cannot do without one. He/she is responsible for the formulation of schedule and planning. He/she comes up with the required resources and the budget plan. The costs are later explained in details to the higher authorities for approvals.

The project manager has to be very competent in his/her work since he/she is practically the backbone of the entire project. He/she has the responsibility of keeping the stakeholders posted on all issues concerning the project. He/she comes up with mitigation measures to counter any form of risk. Traditional project management has worked effectively for many kinds of domains and different kinds of environment. The techniques that it uses to solve issues are formal and standard. This approach has proven beyond reasonable doubts that it is effective since it has been used time and again without modifications.

Agile Project Management Approaches

This method purely is after catering for unforeseen circumstances. It seeks to embrace change through a broad set of strategies in place. Throughout the activities of the project, requirements are spelt out and implemented then. Changes have no room here. In agile project management, there’s a liberty to halt the activities if they are deemed to be of no value or benefit. If there are clear indications that the intended purpose will not be achieved, it can be stopped. In our today’s world most processes in our business are more engaging and connected. The projects that are being implemented also tend to be of complex nature. The traditional structures cannot obviously cope with this. It will be ineffective since the most vital requirements can change at any time unlike the traditional ones.

In this kind of project management the stakeholders work in harmony with the developers and deliberate on the best way forward as far as grasping the needs and domain. They prioritize issues according to their importance and value. Agile project method has been effective and used when developers work together harmoniously, the documentation is clearly given in a formal way, unrelenting participation from all parties and where development is evident through feature-driven growth. This approach will involve many kinds of planning and developing cycles and phases. The project manager and his/her team will be responsible for evaluating and monitoring the project. They have a duty to inform the stakeholders by giving them feedback concerning progress. Cycle by cycle they make improvements and adjustments if need be. A well placed planning is adopted and the requirements, designs and building are initiated. As the planned requirements come into sight, modifications could be made. Agile project management requires dedicated staff who works from the same location.

Comparison of Traditional and Agile Project Management Approaches

Agile project management is faced with issues such as the lack of clear estimation as to when a product may be ready for delivery. It raises serious concerns mainly to do with revenue and mostly due to budgetary circumstances. This approach is successful to some projects due to its use of feedback. The fact that there is a provision to give suggestions as to how it can be improved contributes positively to its success. Challenges however arise due to the fact that there is a fixed cost that is required before they begin. Agile approach has been said to satisfy clients more than other approaches since feedback is provided spontaneously (Abrahamsson and Oza, 2010, p. 104). They have control of the product and can make any desirable adjustments.

Adopting the agile management approach will mean unrelenting support from the team that is from those that are senior and the junior ones. There is a number of concerns that they have to address and they include being predictable. In the traditional project management, the managers normally work in a predictable environment whereby issues such as budget are done beforehand together with the management of resources. The requirements are normally outlined early on and also the planning to complete the said project.

In the agile project management however, one realises that it is client oriented and that sole objective is to satisfy and produce results of value to the customer. In agile project management one also realises that it is more intensive and all the stakeholders have to work harmoniously to ensure that the objectives are met. This will result in collaborations and frequent daily meetings whenever the need to do so arises.

Agile approaches also have a tendency to leave things to pan out themselves. The risk cannot be done away with when engaging in this type of project management. Uncertainties are normal in projects and the cost may fluctuate though it was unplanned and unprecedented. The project managers have to be able to counter this without panic since it is normal. The team members have to be self-directed and tolerance is a virtue that cannot be done away with for the agile approaches (Highsmith, 2010, p. 112).

However, in the traditional approaches, there is no room for surprises and careful planning is done to avert any form of uncertainties. In the traditional project management success is basically measured through following or complying with the agreed mechanisms with minimal changes or control. In the agile project management, however, one realises that outputs that will be delivered are the most vital and the focus is on this only. Teams have a responsibility to ensure that this happens irrespective of anything. There is a flexibility in control to suit the needs of the project if need be.

There is the assumption that in the agile approaches people don’t plan or are not in a position to estimate. This is not true since even documentation is done together with scaling. In the agile project management team members play a very big role in that they have to work together and exceptional individual skills are vital for the success of the whole team. Personal recognition in this approach is ignored. Transparency is imperative here for all the team members and they should adhere to work ethics for the success of the project.

The traditional project management dictates that there should be progress and that is their underlying principle. Estimates have to be adhered to without flaws and that is what will determine a successful project. In the agile approach, however, there is an intense collaboration and all the stakeholders are ever present in the day-to-day running of the project. It all narrows down to the three vital constraints in project management. The scope, the given time frame and the resources available determine the successfulness of a traditional project management leader. One who effectively controls this can be said to be successful. However, in the agile project management the successfulness will be viewed on how the team leader instils self-direction to avoid constant monitoring, leadership through innovativeness instead of merely giving orders from afar (Wysocki, 2011, p. 156).

In the agile project management it is imperative that communication flow is smooth to all the relevant stakeholders. The team members must collaborate fully without side shows. To facilitate this, the need to be ever-present cannot be ruled out. Even if it is not possible to be ever-present, especially for the project managers who may be indulged in other activities, technology has advanced with modern times whereby video conferencing is now a reality. Research has shown that agile project management approach is normally best suited for the projects that are been carried out for the first time. This is to pave the way for innovative and creative ideas. Some projects need evidence of relevant documentation, have low levels of uncertainty, have small scales of variability and are basically repetitive. Traditional project management would be best suited for such a kind of project with all this formalities. Reviewing all this is vital before beginning a project so as to avoid unforeseen circumstances later (Song et al. 2010, p. 113).

Whenever one wants to engage in the agile project management approach, it is vital to carefully select your team members. They should be people with characteristics as being self-driven and in a position to make independent well-thought decisions. They should be fully committed to their work and have the capacity to work harmoniously as a group. They have to possess unique ways of solving problems and should come up with new ideas. The project manager or leader has no choice but to choose competent members who have broad knowledge and experience in that field.