Project Management Methodologies: Agile vs Traditional

Published by jose.munevar on

Software development teams have been working to embrace agile project management practices since the start of the millennium, even though agile methodologies go back as far as the 50’s. For its speed, collaboration and flexibility; agile project methodologies are being preferred over traditional project management methodologies.

But what is agile project management? What is the difference between agile and traditional methodologies? Which one is better? Here is everything you need to know about agile methodologies, their differences, advantages, and disadvantages when compared to regular methods.

Agile Project Management

Agile project management is a methodology designed to respond to change and to produce and deliver work in short bursts or ‘sprints’. An agile team can manage a project by breaking it up into several stages and delivering a usable part of the project at every stage. Agile project management requires constant collaboration and communication between team members to respond demands of change. It was first developed for software projects but can be adapted to other industries as well.

The project owner specifies what they want their project to achieve and how it will be used. It’s important to have a long discussion with the team members before the project starts and then throughout the project if your needs or requirements change. The point of agile project management is to adapt to change. The team begins work with a process of planning, executing, evaluating and delivering.

The principles of this methodology were first developed and recorded by 17 software developers in 2001. The Agile Manifesto describes a “formal proclamation of four key values and 12 principles to guide an iterative and people-centric approach to software development.

These 12 principles are as follows:

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage 
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale. 
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project. 
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. 
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is a face-to-face conversation. 
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress. 
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely. 
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility. 
  10. Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential. 
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams. 
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts it’s behavior accordingly.   

Traditional Project Management

Traditional project management is a universal set of practices which are implemented in every project related field.It is used for projects that have predictable outcomes and project life. The aim is to create a product within a specific time frame within a fixed budget

Traditional project management usually follows the same few steps for every project, regardless of nature. These steps are:


  • Establishing the outcomes of the project
  • Establishing the objectives of the projects
  • Finding possible hurdles


  • Estimating time and budget
  • Planning and allocating resources
  • Preparing networks
  • Developing a project plan


  • Carrying out the plan
  • Regular evaluation of the project
  • Communication amongst team members
  • Documenting work done

Quality Control And Monitoring:

  • Controlling the environment to minimize change
  • Controlling and checking quality
  • Establishing progress
  • Revising the project if need be


  • Presenting the project to the client
  • Ensuring the satisfaction of the client
  • Closing out contract and payments
  • Issuing final report

The reason it’s called ‘traditional’ project management is that it has been in practice as long as project-based jobs have been around. Companies and businesses needed to follow a structured path to ensure the quality and consistency of the end product.

The Differences between Agile and Traditional Project Management

Agile Project Management is an extremely flexible and adaptable way to perform a job. Agile was designed to accommodate change and suits best for complex projects. Agile suits projects that have several stages and are all interconnected and dependent. If sudden changes are to happen, there wouldn’t be that much of a problem integrating the change.

For projects that are pretty straightforward and of a smaller scale, traditional approaches are more suited.  Sudden changes are not preferred as a lot of the time the team might have to start the entire project all over again.

In the preparation for agile projects, objectives are not set in stone so there is a lot of room for feedback and adjustments. Clients requests can be adjusted quickly and the project might end up finishing sooner than expected.

For traditional projects, the objectives and how the project will be carried out is defined and detailed. The time and budget constraints may play a role in its inability to react to new changes as well.

The Pros And Cons of Agile and Traditional Project Management

 Pros of Agile:

  • Extremely flexible
  • Solutions are rapidly worked out
  • Faster usable results
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Faster Turnaround time

Cons of Agile:

  • Communication has to be clear and exact and may not work if the client doesn’t even know what they want.
  • Not suitable for smaller projects.
  • As a system, it might be easy to overhaul traditional practices.
  • Variable Costs and Pricing

Pros of Traditional:

  • Clear objectives
  • Suited for smaller projects
  • No need for specialized teams or resources

Cons Of Traditional:

  • Slower outcomes
  • No room for change
  • Heavy costs if the project has to be restarted


The type of project management one chooses depends solely on the type of job they have.  No one project management is better than the other and projects should be evaluated thoroughly before starting for effective and manageable results.

Categories: Project management


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