The definition of Agile is: “quick and well-coordinated in movement.”
Your company is launching a new project and your boss asks you if you think the new project would be a good candidate to work as an Agile project. Your company is rather traditional, branching out occasionally to try new things, but you are not sure if this project is appropriate for an Agile approach. You definitely want the project to be successful. What do you need to consider when making a decision of this type for your new project?
Here are some major factors to look at when considering an agile project approach.
- Is this project similar to other projects that your company has done, or is it a completely new type of project? Projects that are pioneering efforts are typically better candidates for Agile projects primarily because there is a great deal of uncertainty about the end product, and the Agile model is designed to address these shifting priorities.
- Is this project a large, medium or small project? Does it have an extensive number of elements that interact with other systems? Medium to small system projects that are relatively independent of other systems are easier to leverage with an Agile approach.
- Are your project requirements completely nailed down, or are they just defined at a high level? Agile typically is better at leveraging high level requirements.
- Is the management team at your company willing to let this project launch without imposing a project completion date immediately? One of the keys to an Agile project is that the first couple of sprints help to identify how much work is getting done during each sprint; this also helps to plan out the remaining backlog of work, and feeds an estimate for a completion date built upon a foundation of performance, not guesswork.
- Access to the right personnel is also critical. A product owner is a keystone element for an Agile project; as are the ability to put together a small co-located team of folks (8-12) that are experienced, self-reliant, and cross-trained.
- Can the product roll-out in increments to show progress, or must it all launch at one time? Likewise is continuous improvement feasible? If it can roll out incrementally, and continuous improvement is feasible, then it is absolutely a good candidate. If not, but all of the other elements meet the Agile criteria, then this can be worked out.
If you can answer “Yes” to all of these questions then by all means your project is a candidate to use an Agile Project Methodology. If you can answer “Yes” to half, or less of these questions then I would advise you to stay with your current project management methodology. Staying true to the process, at least initially, will give you a much better idea if it can really add value to your organization.
Mark W. Timmis is a Certified Scrum Master and practicing IT Project Manager with 10+ years experience in project management. His experience in project management spans across: Pharma, Medical Device, State and Local Government, Healthcare, and Insurance.
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