In this post, we will talk about project management, more specifically about traditional vs agile project management methods. We will cover the pros and cons of both, and break down in great deal agile vs traditional project management types and which will give you a better idea of what to choose for your own business and workflow.
But First, Why Is Project Management Necessary?
When you run a business staying on top of things is extremely important, which isn’t always easy. Even if you are working alone, you still need to know exactly where you are in each of your projects for your client management.
But, things get even more complicated when you are a part of a team, let alone running one. Not only that you need to be aware of your own progress across multiple projects, but you are also required to know how other team members are doing.
Therefore, project management grew to become a critical discipline and an essential part of every business. Project management is there to ensure that everything is streamlined, from the planning phase all the way to execution, all in line with the company goals.
Project Management Methods
Project management as a discipline is nothing new, and businesses always had ways and systems that helped them organize their operations. Things remained pretty much the same for a long time, up until recently. The modern era of the Internet changed project management too, and we now see the rise of the agile methodology. Agile methodology existed before, but it became much more popular with the rise of the IT industry. But, the traditional project management methods are still in use, and in the next section, we will discuss them too.
Traditional Project Management — (Traditional vs Agile Project Management)
Traditional project management methods are still in use, and managers have been using them for a long time. That means traditional project management will get you predictable outcomes and will help you reach your goals in a linear manner.
Usually, “waterfall” traditional project management techniques include several phases, such as initiation, planning, execution, control, and closing. By following this method, you are supposed to fully close one project before you commit to the next one.
Traditional project management is best suited for large-scale projects that require careful consideration, and where following strict rules is not a flaw, but a major benefit. But, it is not that well-suited for small and medium scape projects, as it can be too rigid.
Benefits Of Traditional Project Management
Traditional project management has fixed steps, and it is always clear what the goal is at any given time. As such, traditional project management leaves no room for guessing, and your team will always stay focused on the task.
This requires heavy planning ahead, but once complete, every step becomes clear to every team member, making execution a step-by-step process, literally.
Also, in traditional project management, the project manager is the most important person, and the one in charge of the whole process, in every single step. Therefore, traditional project management never creates confusion because there is only one person responsible for everything, and that is the project manager who takes full ownership of the project.
Clear Division Of Labor
Once the planning phase is complete, every team member knows exactly what he/she needs to do, and traditional project management will never create confusion and overlaps if the planning is done right. Because of this, every person in the chain will have their own to-do list, which will make it quite easy to follow if they are doing a good job or not.
The Key Flaw Of Traditional Project Management
When things go as planned, traditional project management shines, and you will be able to achieve your goals without any issues. However, when running a business, things rarely go exactly as planned.
Because traditional project management is based on pre-planning and then executing, when things don’t go as expected, you will find yourself stuck. You will either have to improvise on the spot, and go outside the plan, hoping for the best, or you will have to get back to the drawing board and adjust the whole plan to the new circumstances.
This creates a catch 22 situation — you are not supposed to plan every tiny detail, which will make sure you leave room for improvisation, but at the same time you are supposed to pre-plan everything, to make sure the project is going to reach the goal.
Being too rigid is the #1 flaw of traditional project management and a significant bottleneck of the whole system. Because there is just no way to take everything into consideration in advance, you will sometimes find traditional project management methods to be very tough to handle.
Agile Project Management — (Agile vs Traditional Project Management)
Agile project management is extremely popular in the software development field but is taking over other industries too. It is radically different from traditional project management, as it is not about following strict predefined rules, but is more about responding to challenges in the present moment, but doing it while making sure you stay in line with the project scope.
Benefits Of Agile Project Management
Agile project management is everything but rigid. There are no strict rules, only guidelines that are there to ensure the team is on the right track. However, when something comes up that wasn’t planned, the whole project will continue without any halts and re-planning everything from scratch.
Agile project management is all about responding to changes on the go, prioritizing results over form and planning. As such, it is incredibly easy to adopt new ideas when following an agile approach, entirely unlike the rigid traditional project management system.
Because of this, agile project management is much more friendly towards working on multiple things at the same time, as the structure is far less rigid and allows changes.
Emphasis On The Team Members
In agile project management, every team member takes ownership of the project. This method is much less top-heavy than traditional project management, where everything relies on the capabilities of the project manager.
Agile project management puts more power into every team member’s hands, giving them the opportunity to show their ideas and skills. This open-minded approach creates an environment for more creative solutions, leading to better outcomes.
Quick Decision Making
The flexibility of agile methodology significantly improves decision-making speed. Agile project management is much less about planning and more about execution. There are goals and milestones, but every person involved has much more freedom. As long as they reach the desired outcomes, everything is great.
Because of the customer feedback, milestones and checkpoints, it is straightforward to determine if the project is staying on track, or not. Therefore, even though decision-making is not only reserved for the project manager, but every team member gets to call the shots, it is still super-easy to double-check things and see if those decisions are in line with the project goals.
The Key Flaw Of Agile Project Management
Lack Of Structure Isn’t Always The Best Choice
While freedom is excellent, there are situations where having too much freedom isn’t always the best idea. Agile project management is ideal for modern (read: online) businesses, but in other, more rigid areas, going the old-school, traditional project management way might be a better idea.
Agile project management is better suited for small and medium-scale projects, as it gives enough freedom to every team member throughout the whole process. But, the lack of rules can be a problem in large-scale projects, where traditional project management still has the advantage.
As you can see from our article, both agile and traditional project management methodologies have their place in the business world. In the end, it is all up to you. At first glance, it seems that the abundance of creative freedom and quick decision making makes agile project management a clear winner, but it all depends on the business and project type. We advise you to try both methods and see for yourself which suits you best.