Project Management

Are You Lessening?

Janis Rizzuto

Janis is an award-winning journalist and editor who has covered many industries beyond project management, including health care, financial services, higher education and retail sales.

What agile methods are, what they're not, and how you fit.

The word agile means quick and maneuverable. So at first, agile software development methods may seem antithetical to project management methods because they advocate certain flexible practices, including less attention to project plans and open acceptance of changes.

But experts in agile development and project managers who've used the methods say they are not antagonistic to PM methods, just different. Taking an agile approach to a project is just as rigorous as any PM approach--only what is emphasized is changed.

"Some project managers fear agile development is an excuse for uncontrolled process and an excuse for hacking," says Greg Reiser, vice president of North American services at ThoughtWorks, a Chicago-based agile development firm. "Yes, if they are sloppy about agile projects, they do lose control. But agile techniques done right require a great deal of discipline and provide much control."

Discipline and control do not exclude change. In fact, the raison d'être of agile development is to embrace change. Nearly every agile practice is designed to make change less disruptive and less costly. So it's no wonder the techniques are aptly applied in the high-velocity software field. But given the tumult of most modern businesses, agile ideas should also hold …


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