Agile methodologies, the project management of modern times

Méthodologies Agile, digne remplaçantes des méthodes traditionnelles
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4 min read

The impact of society behavior on the evolution of traditional and Agile methodologies

Traditional methodologies lag behind

What are we referring to when we talk about traditional methodologies?  It is an approach consisting in relaying on a specification document. This document contains the whole description of a project even before it has begun.

To write this specification file, the team needs to be able to answer all questions concerning the product behaviors. It demands a strong investment in time and  skills for the team’s project. Sure, the final document is complete! But also heavy, rigid, and doesn’t allow the team to adapt when facing problems.

Some recent experiences have made me question the traditional way of managing a project:

📌 How can we write the whole specification, predicting the complete behaviour expected by the project, when we don’t know the future?

📌 How can we face the current “changing” way of living by writing a “hard” specification document considered as a static reference ?

📌 Can we be sure in advance which part should be built in priority, knowing the client expectations will evolve in the next week, as well as the company’s strategy ?

Agile methodologies, the answer matching the changes

Contrary to the traditional methodologies which are frozen, the human behaviours and habits are always evolving. To give you a few examples:

  📌 The technologies are renewed all the time, offering us new ways to use them. Let’s take the mobile phone and the way we unlock them. At the beginning, it was with a pin code. Then with our digital print, and today, facial recognition is the new trending technology.

📌 In the professional area, employees are regularly changing company. It is a real evolution comparing to our parents or grandparents, who spent their life at the same firm.

📌 The increasing number of suppliers (in the alimentary, textile, leisure or first necessity products area) allows us to choose our services and change them as often as we want. No one wants a subscription with commitment anymore.

📢 Today, to attract, satisfy and keep your clients, you have to be agile and flexible. You need to give them the possibility to leave and change their mind easily!

We are in an era where changes are parts of our everyday life and should be taken into account. Of course, those changes have a strong impact on our approach of project management. Mixing actual human behaviours and project management, I’m convinced the winning supplier is the one who can adapt the way he works to the way their customers think and act.

Agility, the basis of Agile methodologies

It can seem logical, I give you that. But do you know what agility really is?

17 experts and IT consultants, including the inventor of Scrum methodology, eXtreme Programming or Crystal Clear, have discussed the subject and written the Agile Manifesto in 2001. For them, agility can be resumed thanks to 4 main values:

  1. People and interaction over process and tools,
  2. Working software over a complete documentation
  3. Collaboration with the client over contract negotiation
  4. Adapt to changes over following a plan

📢 This doesn’t mean you have to forget about process and tools, or leave out documentation! Those parameters should still be taken into account in your project. However, your objective won’t be reach only relying on those aspects.

Taking into account human parameters, I consider the Agile approach is the most adapted way to manage our projects nowadays. Following the 4 Agile values and using a framework like Scrum should be a good start to begin your next project in an Agile way!

Traditional methodologies and Agile methodologies : a common objective reached with different processes.

The purpose of all projects is to produce a service or a product : it is what guide the teams at every step of the thinking. Regarding the methodology chosen (traditional or agile), different tools and processes will be adopted, changing drastically the way the objective will be achieve.

Traditional approaches and the tunnel effect 

The waterfall or V cycle, used in the traditional approaches, lead decidedly to a tunnel effect, first cause of failure in project! Using those methods, it is only at the end of the project that you will discover if the product answers properly the client’s needs and expectations. 

Iterative process, the strength of Agile approaches

In opposition, Agile methodologies operate in iteration, allowing to regularly adapt the goals and obtain concrete and progressive results. Thanks to iterative process, you offer to your client a functional product (or increment) at the end of each iteration: you can then collect feedback and adjust the product!

📢 All the questions helping you defined if a function is useful or a goal will answer the client needs can help you to correct the shot. For example:

📌 Are the things we talked about last week still valuable and expected ?

📌 Do we have enough information to provide the feature expected ?

📌 Will this feature bring value to the product ?

In conclusion, if today you ask me  “Is the traditional approach still valid to manage projects ?”

I might say: ”Yes it is”

Regarding the question “Is the traditional approach still adapted to manage projects?”

I would answer: “Be agile now !”

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