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How to Determine Projects Fit for Agile

Organizations commonly adopt new processes / approaches that have proven to reach markets faster, realize quicker returns and minimize costs. Agile is a set of values and frameworks geared to shift efforts toward efficiency and continuous value delivery. Although Agile is a relatively new way of thinking, it’s rolling success in delivering more within the challenges of the triple constraints (scope, schedule and budget) has gained it popularity and wider adoption in the project management world. Yes, depending on the scenario, plan-driven, traditional project management or “waterfall” can provide a higher likelihood for projects’ success.

So, what drives the decision to go with one or the other? What are the factors to consider when selecting the approach that best meets the needs of the organization?

The Nature of a Project / Product. A good starting place is to examine the three important aspects of a project: Scope, schedule and cost. In order to determine the best approach, consider these factors against the specifics of the project / product in question. Below are sample real-life project scenarios that could be considered during this process.

Project Scenarios It is also important to highlight that there are times when Agile approaches can be applied to facilitate transparency and communication at team-levels even when the nature of the project is best suited for waterfall approaches. A good example here would be a construction team that adopts Scrum practices, such as daily stand-ups for their daily check-ins, sprints to break down their work, and Kanban boards to visualize progress and track the work in queue.

The Project / Product Environment. Another vital element that can inform or influence approach selection is the project / product delivery environment and life-cycle. Factors to consider here include:

Environment Scenarios

Overall, supporting data suggests that not all Agile projects succeed and not all “waterfall” projects fail. Organizations can identify the most fitting approach that helps accelerate delivery, minimize risk, save costs, and ultimately present a higher likelihood of success by carefully analyzing the nature of a product or project and having a good strategy that creates the enabling environment.

Further, if the decision is to transition to an Agile approach, similar to any new process or change initiative, Agile adoption requires a supportive environment that spans beyond a given project / product to an organizational transformation. An Agile implementation must be supported by change management activities that foster buy-in and ensure the Agile vision and goals are clearly communicated across the enterprise.

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