In recent years, Project Management has changed as a result of the rapidly changing environment and every changing risk faced when executing projects. Traditionally project management was focused on setting time, cost, and quality objectives and controlling these linearly to achieve your project outcomes.
This traditional approach is known as the waterfall approach to project management. The waterfall methodology is a linear form of project management ideal for projects where the end result is clearly established from the beginning of the project. The expectations for the project and the deliverables of each stage are clear and are required in order to progress to the next phase. This is best suited to projects with little disruption.
However, the traditional waterfall approach to project management has fast been replaced by the agile approach to project management in certain industries (IT in particular), which require a far more flexible approach to project management.
The Agile project management methodology was developed as a response to Waterfall’s more rigid structure. As a result, it’s a much more fluid form of project management. A software development project can take years to complete, and technology can change significantly during that time. Agile was developed as a flexible method that welcomes incorporating changes of direction, even late in the process, as well as accounting for stakeholders’ feedback throughout the process.
In an Agile project management environment, the team will work on phases of the project concurrently, often with short-term deadlines. Additionally, the team, rather than a project manager, drives the project’s direction. This can empower the team to be motivated and more productive, but also requires a more self-directed team. Team members need to be self-starters with healthy team dynamics rather than the traditional top-down control and management of teams.
Do you believe there is a place for the rethinking of the traditional waterfall project management system in the Manufacturing and Construction industry? Isn’t it time for something a bit more fluid and agile?
Consider the quick and fluid responses needed by Project Teams to work concurrently on different problems when suddenly faced with crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine which plunged European manufacturing into turmoil. In a world with ever-increasing complexity, elevated risks, and seemingly more and more Black Swan events, there has to be an opportunity for a more fluid and adaptive way of project management.
Agile and Waterfall are two different management methodologies best suited for different types of projects. If you clearly understand the project outcomes from the beginning and you are not expecting many external influences, Waterfall may be the best fit. Waterfall is a better method when a project must meet strict regulations as it requires deliverables for each phase before proceeding to the next one.
Alternatively, Agile is better suited for teams that plan on moving fast, experimenting with direction, and don’t know how the final project will look before they start. Agile is flexible and requires a collaborative and self-motivated team, plus frequent check-ins with business owners and stakeholders about the progress.
You decide if there is room for a more Agile project management approach to the Manufacturing and Construction industry.