Billy Ingram, Director of Lean Product Development, Interface
When should you consider using Agile methodology? When should you not? The short answer is that you should only use concepts and methodologies when they are helpful and improve results. Agile is a great approach to project management. I’ve used the approach successfully many times when the opportunity presented itself. When applied to the right opportunity in the correct manner new ideas, more efficient execution and better results are all possible. But trying to force fit an approach into an opportunity is never a good idea. Agile, like many other concepts, is as much about application and understanding how to use the method, as it is when to use it. These are a few indicators I use to inform me when the opportunity exists and when it doesn’t.
When should I use Agile?
When you’re working with a dynamic organization: Dynamic organizations can take advantage of short term course changes. If you know the organization adapts to change easily it’s a great time to consider using Agile. Working with adaptable people and organizations is not for the faint of heart. But if you find yourself leading a project where small, rapid course changes are possible you should consider using the Agile approach. This is a great way to strengthen the team and ensure inclusion while improving the end results.
When goals and destinations are still malleable: When you have the chance to influence the future state, the Agile approach increases the speed at which new ideas are evaluated as they occur in the project.
Some teams and organizations can adapt to this approach quickly, and some can’t. If you are working with a team that views this as an opportunity, take full advantage of it to come up with a better solution.
When you are working with strong relationships or teams:. Strong, positive social interactions between team members are a gift. Take advantage of this opportunity to craft a better solution and journey. This is big part of what some organizations strive for when they are trying to improve their culture. If you find it in its natural state count your blessings, encourage more interactions and facilitate your team to success.
When should I use a more traditional waterfall approach?
When your solution is already well-defined: If you already know your goal and a good way to get there, there’s not as much opportunity for improvement along the way. Traditional project management works well in this situation. It’s also more comfortable to most of the individuals who make up the average organization.
When organizations are more siloed: Working with teams in organizations that allow functional are as to plan and act independently rather than interdependently is difficult. Adding uncertainty in project management methods to this type of organization is like throwing gas on the fire. It’s best to stick to traditional project management methods in this situation.
When you are measured by how you complete the project: Some organizations are less concerned with the result and more concerned with the process. Customer service is a great example. Sometimes a bad customer experience result can’t be remedied. The experience can only be made better with a well thought out, standardized method which can be executed to improve the experience. In this case letting every individual adapt the method during the journey could be catastrophic. And anytime you add ‘strophic’ to the word cat it should be considered bad for one’s career.
Considering which approach to take for project planning and execution is one of the most important components of successful project implementation. Clearly, there are many more attributes to consider when choosing your approach. There are also many more that could be added to this article’s short list. However, using directional go, no-go check points early in project formation you can increase your chances of success when implementing your next project.