Agile vs. Project Manager essay

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Currently, information technology managers are under increasing pressure to achieve results, in the form of applications, which drive improvement to the bottom line.  Despite the fall of the internet economy, businesses are changing at a rapid pace, leaving many shops struggling to maintain the pace of change. These changes have necessitated for increased interest for in agile software, which promises flexibility and rapid delivery while maintaining quality. The software strive to reduce cost of change by forcing trade-offs, as well as delivery of the highest value features in time. In addition, the systematic, constant testing, which is part of the software, ensures high quality through timely defect detection and resolution. In spite of early success, many factors are preventing widespread adoption since its advocators are finding difficulties in obtaining management support for implementing dramatic changes in development of the application. The methodologies require managers, developers and users to change their perceptions. Theses methodologies have the tendency of dismissing the role of managers in ensuring success, and it centered towards the developer. Agile requires strong management skills to successful application and adoption of its methodologies. However, agile lacks alignment between tools and methodologies of traditional management. In addition, this misalignment is a sign of a deeper problem-variation in fundamental assumptions regarding control, change, organizations, order, people and overall problem resolution approach (Cobb, 2011). Traditional project managers assume that:

  1. Regulation of change requires rapid procedures;
  2. Hierarchical structures within an organization are the means of establishing order;
  3. Increased order is as a result of increased control;
  4. Successful organizations must have static, rigid hierarchies;
  5. Employees are interchangeable components in the organizational machine;
  6. Problem solving is through reductionist break down and allocation of task;
  7. Risks and projects are adequately predictable, whose management is through complex up-front planning;

Within the context of traditional project management, it is apparent that new technologies seem to be informal to the point of being egalitarian and chaotic. This goes to the extent of actively promoting directionless and insubordination in their approach to problem solving. There main reason for the slow adoption of agile methodologies is mainly because of the fundamental assumption of traditional project management (Sheikh, 2012).

Traditional managers are required to control large development projects and face difficulties in estimating, as well as managing, these tasks reliably to deliver results. Traditional project management heavily relies on concepts from engineering, such as building and construction management. Consequently, they inherit a reductionist, deterministic approach, which is reliant of task breakdown. This rigidity is illustrated by a tendency towards slavish compliance process, which is a means of controlling the project. For some organizations, these methodologies have yielded positive results, although they have added complexity and cost while providing a false sense of security. These perceptions seem to imply that management is doing something by exhaustively measuring, planning and controlling, yet it is just a waste of time. Huge costs are sunk in premature planning, without continuous customers’ feedbacks and rapid, iterative development, which are later discovered as prerequisites for today’s success. Traditional managers have, in many occasions, scaled the size of projects to manageable levels with the uses of small teams. This approach and many other practices applied by traditional project managers are similar to methodologies employed by agile project manager, with a strong dose of leadership and adaptation.

While traditional project managers design methodologies in an effort to control projects, agile methodologies were developed in response to frustrations traditional managers face in the workplace. Agile methodologies have assumed the role of traditional managers since information technology experts develop and monitor their own tasks. This is apparent in the manner in which corporate managers have reacted to the introduction of agile methodologies. They have been slow to embrace these methodologies for fear of job displacement. Regardless of the methodology employed in a project, traditional managers are perceived as taskmasters, who are responsible for developing and controlling master plans, which document tasks, resources and dependencies required to deliver successful outcomes. Traditional project managers monitor the status of tasks, as well as adjust the plan whenever necessary. This underpins a mechanistic approach, which equates individuals to controllable, interchangeable, commodities. Many managers are comfortable with the traditional methodologies of managing projects since they perceive implementation of agile methodologies as a daunting task. On the other hand, agile methodologies aside, trends in project management show a point of convergence between technical community and management community (Pries & Quigley, 2011).

Conversely, agile project manager creates and monitors its plans in collaborations with consumer feedbacks. It creates features, which are prioritized based on business value. It divides tasks and measures progress of the project, and whenever necessary, adjusts plan to suit the customer’s needs. Since every project requires a leader, project managers are freed from the drudgery task of a taskmaster to enable them focus as leaders. The leader is responsible for keeping a spotlight on the vision, inspiring the team, promoting collaboration and teamwork, removing obstacles to progress, and championing the project. The project manager, rather than being operational controller, can become an adaptive leader when old management styles are relinquished. The basic phases of traditional project management and agile methodologies are similar. This is because they still initiate and define the project, plan the project, execute the plan, control and monitor outcomes. However, the approaches in which these steps are accomplished vary and require different management styles (Wysocki, 2009).

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