Does Agile Project Management Exist?
I have been reading a lot about something called “Agile Project Management.”
- Derek Huether wants to put in the PMBOK.
- Glen Alleman wants to change it to fit the aerospace and defense industry mega-projects.
- Gantthead has published several articles on this topic like these:
- Wikipedia also has an article on it.
Agile project management is very popular for something that doesn’t exist. Agile is a software development methodology and not a project management method. It is often contrasted with the Waterfall model of software development, which is also not a project management method. It is about doing incremental development with a co-located team of developers and a customer. The development is also ongoing and the product is constantly changing and probably requires a dedicated team.
It is obvious that project management covers more than just software development or even the broader field of Information Technology. I don’t think I would want to drive across a bridge that was built using “Agile PM.”
I also don’t think Agile Software Development is appropriate for all software development efforts. What about software that goes into devices that cannot be updated easily? Sure, the Mars Rover can get a software update, but it takes a long time and you can’t replace it if a bug causes it to wind up in a ditch. How many people really update the BIOS in their PCs after they get them? There are a lot of corporate software systems that are large and complex that would not be good candidates for Agile software development. This is because they are so pathologically coupled that a small change in one system can have a lot of repercussions if it is not thought through and vetted with a lot of people.
Does this mean that Agile is not a good software development method? No. Agile did great in commercializing the web and is still valuable in that environment and perhaps others. It just isn’t appropriate for everything. Just because it is the hot new thing, does not mean it applies everywhere.