Project managers have their work cut out for them. They operate a balancing act between keeping clients happy and satisfied while maximizing their team’s talents without resulting in burnout. Priorities shift a lot, with the looming danger of scope creep threatening budgets and timelines if they’re not careful. Issues also appear to be dealt with as fast as possible to avoid escalation and failure. With all these challenges, it’s no wonder that project managers look for the best methods they can use to keep a project on track.
There are many project management frameworks available at one’s disposal, ranging from the traditional waterfall method to the statistics-heavy Lean Six-Sigma. But what has caught the attention of most businesses is the Agile methodology. It promised faster turnarounds, better customer satisfaction, and increased transparency and communication among team members. Bureaucratic processes are a thing of the past in Agile, favoring small teams that work fast and operate autonomously.
While some companies have attributed their success to Agile, it’s not the magic bullet that everyone thinks it is. Agile also has its own pitfalls like every other method. Project managers need to take these disadvantages into account instead of turning a blind eye.
Undefined requirements can make stakeholders uncomfortable
Given the shorter planning and working stages, Agile requirements are not comprehensive and definitive. They can evolve into new directions while the project is ongoing or as a reaction to the feedback gathered from customers in previous iterations. There is a lack of predictability that stakeholders, especially investors and venture capitalists, might not be comfortable with. The final product can turn out completely different from what was discussed. For example, building a commercial anti-virus software when the initial talks were for a ServiceNow security module. The sudden change of direction can make anyone feel uneasy.
There is no end to the tunnel
Agile’s allure comes from its incremental and iterative nature, but too much of it can also lead to frustration, both for clients and team members. Without a clear end in sight, the project will never be marked as completed. Teams can also get sidetracked because there is no clear vision of what the end goal will be. Branching in multiple directions can take its toll on the project’s budget and resources, inviting scope creep. Measuring progress and achievements will also be difficult because there are no milestones to serve as points of comparison. People will feel like they are Sisyphus rolling a boulder up a hill day in and day out.
Not everyone on the team is an active player
For the Agile methodology to work, high levels of collaboration and commitment must be maintained throughout the project. That is why Agile works best for small dedicated teams working for one project at a time. However, for teams with multiple roles and functions, Agile can be their worst nightmare. They don’t have the space and attention to focus on the success of one project. That is also true for external stakeholders who might be too busy and are only interested in the bottom line.
All project management frameworks will have their advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the project manager to create its own approach by blending what’s available to suit the project’s needs.