Agile is incorrectly referred to as a methodology. Agile itself is not a methodology but a mindset and approach to developing and managing a project incrementally and iteratively. Using Agile approaches allows teams to respond to unpredictability and change in a much easier, and even more proactive manner than traditional project management.
Traditional project management tends to be connected to waterfall, or predictive approaches. This is where the entire project is planned out in great detail from beginning to end. Agile project management is more adaptable in that participants have a vision of the outcome, but plan in great detail for each increment, and adjust the rest of the planning based on the vision of the outcome and the changes occurring in the project environment.
Although predictive approaches do have change management processes, requesting a change can be a difficult and arduous process. The changes also tend to be as reactionary; whereas changes in adaptive tend to be more proactive. For example, changes to scope or requirements in predictive are seen as not meeting the needs of the customer or as defect repairs. Agile sees changes as necessary based on learning from each increment and adjusting the requirements based on those lessons and discussions as to the best way to continue.
Agile work is based on regular cadences of work called sprints and increments. The cadence allows teams to produce something usable or potentially shippable products at the end of each increment. The regular cadence also promotes consistent work and thus, reduces burnout of the team members, that can be seen in traditional project management when the development team’s work load can be very heavy at times.
Its one thing to do Agile and another to be Agile. Doing Agile is going through the motions of the approaches. To be Agile means many things, such as having an open mind that change is good and needs to happen, even with requirements. Its embracing the changing backlog of requirements while still working towards the vision. Developing and managing a project in Agile allows re-planning after each release to work toward success and optimize value to the stakeholders.
Note: Agile practices will be included in the next “Guide to Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) 6th edition” which will be released in 2017.
PMBOK is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute