Agile project methodology , PMBOK - PMP... Why & Where?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

These days, one find’s more and more discussion and comparison in social forum between

• The water fall model with that of agile project methodology (iterative).
• Agile project certification /Scrum with that of PMP.
The another common question, one would find is about, which one of the project management methodology is better?.

To me, Project management has to cover all aspects and processes of project from project initiation to close, including all the commercials and if needed, one has to take care of legal aspect. Once, we get into the legal aspect or towards conflict resolution, the proof could be the documented agreement for any third party arbitration, PMBOK fairly covers these aspect to a greater extend.

Project execution method can vary it can a water fall model or iterative model. The approach towards iterative model of project execution is well defined in ‘Agile’ project methodology. To me, choosing a particular project execution methodology whether its water fall or iterative (Agile) depends on many factors.

Some of the critical ones being,
• Industry.
• Product.
• Size and complexity of the project.
• Customer or project Owner.

Industry: PMBOK is not industry specific and can suit all industry. Agile methodology is mostly applicable to IT industry and it could extend to some other industries as well, particularly in design of prototype. Also, sometimes, the solution or the product release to market might be time bound, which would call for quick turnaround time in development, hence ‘agile’ methodology can be opted.

Product: In my viewpoint, ‘Agile’ type of project management methodology suits IT products development. For example, software packaged solution or electronic product which uses micro controller or Embedded application. These products have shelf life. One has to keep up with competition and product release has to happen at right point of time, one cannot release a product version ahead OR late. Releasing a product ahead or late can be a potential risk in absorption of product by market and hence the success of product and thereby to the project itself. In such products life (months or even years depending on product), there need to be release of product versions from time to time and improvement or enhancement happen throughout the potential life of the product. This being the case, naturally Agile methodology would be a clear winner.

Size and Complexity of the project: If size of the project effort is small and if there is scope clarity, then a water fall model on Fixed price basis can be a better option as it would involve cost saving. In any case, even in small sized projects, improvements do happen post production. However, a complex project like ERP with greater degree of effort would require some form of iteration, not only for user to adopt and understand ERP functionality and wherever there are gap in the proposed business functionality, some form of customization OR integration requirement and hence agile type iterative approach would be useful. As a matter of fact, there are iteration in ERP implementation which are known as CRPs (common room pilot) but only difference may be that it might not precisely match Agile methodology like – product backlogs, sprint run, burn down charts etc.

Customer OR product owner: In an agile type of project, customer’s testing team should available to test the product output repeatedly and hence their effort is also critical. In a vendor – customer relationship, its normal in IT project environment, customer testing team (which likely to be business process team members) may not have time bandwidth to perform repeated testing. However within a company, if R and D team is coming out with iterative product output and with product owner controlling testing and producing teams the agile methodology will better suit. The fact is that scoping, commercials or even if any conflict happens - it can be resolved by the product owners.

Each project can be unique, bound by constraints and the challenges could be situational time to time, adopting a particular project management methodology alone might not bring success to a project. However, methodology would be effective tool towards success of project, if acknowledged, adopted and supported by key stakeholders. The above points could play a critical role in choosing a particular project methodology.

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