Project Management

Does Agile Apply to Your Project?

Mass Bay Chapter

Johanna Rothman works with companies to improve how they manage their product development. She is the author of Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects, 2nd edition, Agile and Lean Program Management: Scaling Collaboration Across the Organization as well as several other books including the newest: Create Your Successful Agile Project: Collaborate, Measure, Estimate, Deliver. See her blogs and more of her writing at

How do you know if agile applies to your project? If you are like many project managers I know, your company is in the midst of an agile transition. Maybe you want to transition to agile, maybe you are already agile…but your organization? Not so much.

How do you know if agile applies to your project? Agile is not just for new projects, or web projects, or projects in a certain domain. You can use agile for any project. But the culture of the organization and the people on the project and the already-existing technical debt (or lack thereof) will affect the success of agile approaches on your project.

Here are four tips to see if agile applies to your project.

1. Do the people on the project want to use agile or lean approaches?
If the people don’t want to use agile or lean approaches, don’t use them. Now, you have to make sure you’re not stuck on a particular approach. I’ve seen leaders stuck on, say, Scrum, when Kanban is a better approach. I’ve seen people stuck on name brand agile approaches, when using unnamed agile approaches--rolling your own agile, using timeboxes with kanban, and changing the three questions at the standups (see here, for example)--was a much better idea.

The question is this: Are the project participants open to new ways of working? Are they willing to collaborate, to move features across the …

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