Agile project management is a distinct method of software development. Instead of taking a sequential design process so that the work flow starts at the beginning and concludes at the end, the Agile method uses an incremental approach. There is no pre-determined starting point or ending point. The work is simply completed in steps, much like a movie is often filmed scene by scene. By carving out “acts” from the work that needs to be done, the goal is for the project to be more adaptable.
Is this the best method of software development that is available to designers today? Here are the key points to consider when looking at the pros and cons of agile project management.
What Are the Pros of Agile Project Management?
1. It gives designers the freedom to develop.
Instead of being constrained by a specific structure, the agile project management method allows designers the freedom to work on individual models that match up with their strengths. This can even potentially allow a project to be completed in a shorter amount of time because each designer is focused on what they do best instead of what has to come next.
2. It makes the development process much more adaptable.
Because a linear development process is not being used with the agile method, developers can better respond to changes that may need to be made. If you’ve completed 98% of a project that had a defined start and you progressed on a singular journey to the finish, a problem at the beginning could force you to start over. In the agile method, whomever is responsible for the individual model that needs a change just makes the change.
3. Feedback and testing occurs simultaneously.
This advantage cannot be overstated. When customers are able to provide feedback along the entire course of module work, the end result can be specifically tailored to meet their needs. As each module is completed, it can also be tested to determine if its metrics have been reached. This creates responses that are authentic, rapid, and more effective than other design methods because it facilitates communication.
4. It works with ideas that do not have defined end-goals.
Sometimes a client has a general idea of what they need, but very few specifics. The agile method lets you get to work right away on the definitions that a client does have and then adapt to their more specific end-goals that can be formed as the work begins to evolve over time.
What Are the Cons of Agile Project Management?
1. Someone has to stitch all of the individual models together.
Unlike a progressive system which has a natural start and finish, the agile method offers individual components that must be edited together. Someone must be responsible for the transitions between the individual models so that they can be stitched together into a cohesive system. This makes the development process difficult to predict in both the time it takes to complete a project and the cost involved.
2. There is no pre-determined course of action or defined plan.
Having the freedom to create your own path can be a good thing. It can also be a bad thing if your developers don’t have the willpower to stay focused on the project at hand. Sometimes there needs to be a defined plan or a set deadline with a course of action in place to get people to work. The agile method works best when the designers are also able to be agile.
3. Collaboration must happen for it to be successful.
If a client isn’t invested into the project, then the agile project management method is virtually impossible to implement. It must have active user involvement and continuing collaboration for it to work. This requires an extensive time commitment from both parties over the duration of the project that other project management structures don’t always require.
4. Losing a designer mid-project can devastate it.
When you’re using a sequential development process, losing a designer isn’t a big deal. You just have the new person take over from where the previous designer left off. When designers are working on individual modules, however, their talents and skills become the foundation of that module. Having a new designer step-in often requires the entire module to start over.
The pros and cons of agile project management show that this relatively new development system can produce great results. It also has certain drawbacks which must be addressed for success to happen. It might not be the best option in all circumstances, but it does have the potential to help create a project that meets all of the end-goals of your client very effectively.