PERSPECTIVE: Agile in not a project management methodology


Defined by CollabNetScrum is  a management framework for incremental product development using one or more cross-functional, self organizing team of about seven people each. Scrum provides a structure of roles, meeting, rules and artifacts.

By definition,Agile is a a mind set, as well as, a set of engineering practices for rapid delivery of high-quality software, as well as, a business approach that aligns development of customer needs. Scrum, as well as, other Agile flavors are great  for product development.

However, claiming that Agile – or any of it’s flavors – eliminates the need for a project management methodology, I believe is not precise  . Agile  was not intended to replace project management. Comparing Agile with PRINCE2 or PMBOK is like comparing apples with oranges.

I believe, project management processes usually work on a higher level including:  over all project plan, business justification, risk management, quality management, chartering, closing.. etc. On the other hand, Agile is a mindset that governs work on a lower level and smaller scope; the execution.

On the other hand, Agile – with its different flavors – concentrate on . how to manage communication, progress updates,  features estimation,  and how to carry on with tasks features.

Agile is not concerned with – and not supposed to -, thus missing processes critical to any project success. To name a few:

1. Business justification: Agile is not really concerned with the business justification as a driver for the project.

2. Risk management: In Agile, there is no clear framework for risk management. Risks are not mentioned in the manifesto nor the 12 agile principles. So Agile flavors introduce a process for risk management, however it only covers Agile scope – the execution. Project level risk like Competitors analysis, market space, changes to regulations….etc should still be handled on the project management level.

3. Project level estimation: no clear or mature approach to give budget and time estimations for a project

4. Closing project: now project closing activities to realize benefit or at least to plan for post project reviews.  You can find more details in an earlier post.

In practice, project management and Agile, can coexist and run in harmony.  I have  managed software development projects/programs for more than 6 years, and I have successfully managed many projects by combining PRINCE2 with Agile.

Finally, Agile is very helpful, as long as, the project team has the right Agile attitude. On the other hand, Having the bad Agile attitude , by assuming that project management is not needed any more can be really catastrophic.

Any project management methodologies based on Agile, like Agile Project management,  is like reinventing the wheel. In essence, Agile is not a project management methodology, it can coexist and work in harmony with existing mature project management methodologies.

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3 thoughts on “PERSPECTIVE: Agile in not a project management methodology

  1. yes absolutely agree with “In practice, project management and Agile, can coexist and run in harmony.” Methods notwithstanding – it is the leadership of projects and project cultures that drives most of the sub-optimization I have run across.

    The agile movement, with all of its flavors, has been consistent around the advocacy for servant leadership – and I have learned with certainty that is the leadership of Superperformance.

  2. Pingback: ANNOUNCEMENT: Seapine Mixing Methodologies eBook « Ala' Yasin Abuhijleh

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