Welcome to the Simplilearn Community

Want to join the rest of our members? Sign up right away!

Sign Up

Agile vs. Traditional Project Management | PMI-ACP Certification

Along with the growing transition towards agile in companies, few questions constantly rising are regarding the benefits of this transition.
How transition to agile helps?
Can agile and traditional project management co-exist? and so on.

Here is an observation on the comparison between agile and traditional project management. Before moving towards comparing agile and traditional project management, let’s understand the basic factors that distinguish the two.

Fundamental differences between agile and traditional approaches to project management:

  • APM focuses on customer interaction and customer satisfaction; traditional model focuses on the plan and adherence to plans.
  • APM is focused on being responsive to change and being adaptable; the traditional model focuses on tight change management and control over the amendments to the plan.
  • Agile planning is an evolutionary process, and the plan evolves and becomes more detailed as it goes along. Traditional planning activity is a heavy, upfront process at the beginning of a project.
  • In Agile projects, the team commits to implementing “features” whereas in the traditional projects, the work breakdown structure drives the activities, which then translate into the plan.
  • Agile projects work with self-managed teams that are empowered to take decisions, whereas traditional projects are more likely to have top down control.
  • Agile processes are relatively light-weight and not prescriptive. They can be customized or tailored by the team to meet their requirements. Traditional projects often rely on heavy and detailed processes.
  • Agile metrics focus on the customer value. Traditional projects often rely on metrics and controls that often may not even be adding value to the team.
Agile Project Management is feature based; the project manager develops a work-breakdown structure along with the team where number of hours and cost are estimated against each task. This enables completion of work at time within the estimated cost. On the other hand traditional project management is more focused on relative size of features which refrains it from attaching definite time prediction to each task.

Traditional Project Managemen
t assumes requirements are fixed and cost and time are variables. This is the reason we witness traditional project management many a times facing time line and budget issues. Agile on the contrary estimates fix time and cost and keep requirements as variable.

After comparing agile against traditional project management, it is observed that agile has more weightage than TPM in terms of benefits. However, transition anywhere comes with host of problems and therefore a blended way to work is much better than a complete switch. Related to this, another question that comes across is can TPM and APM coexist? Let’s take a look at it.

APM – TPM: Can both co-exist?

Although both the methodologies seem to be contrast, industry observers say that both the methodologies need not be exclusive at terms. It can co-exist and also complement each other within project management.

Mr. Dave West with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research states that "A smart agile project manager does a lot of things the PMBOK talks about without calling it PMBOK, and a smart PMBOK project manager does a lot of agile things without calling it agile." Moreover, recent Forrester Research report The PMBOK and Agile: Friends or Foes recommends usage of the strengths of both approaches to boost project success.


Nice summary and Very well stated by Dave"
A smart agile project manager does a lot of things the PMBOK talks about without calling it PMBOK, and a smart PMBOK project manager does a lot of agile things without calling it agile."