Traditional Project Management VS Agile Project Management

2020-11-10 16:21:33
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Summary : Traditional project management and agile project management have their own advantages.

Traditional Project Management VS Agile Project Management

Traditional project management and agile project management are two main directions. What is the difference between traditional project management and agile project management?

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The history of project management

Before 1969, there were not too many rules and regulations for project management, whether it was manufacturing cars or ships. In 1969, the United States established the PMI and introduced a set of PMBok rules and PMP certification. Project management started to have rules and regulations.

Until now, most industries still use this set of to manage projects: the traditional project management.

In 2001, 17 software developers gathered in Snowbird, a ski resort in Utah. They skied during the day, drank and chatted at night. They found that they agreed that traditional project management was not a good fit for the software industry, and then they signed one of the most important documents in the IT industry: the Agile Manifesto. They also shaped many of the ways in which software is conceived, developed and delivered, and even how the world works.

Traditional project management VS agile project management

Traditional project management, usually Waterfall and partial iterative, requires clear requirements and  standardized documents at the beginning of a project. The more and later the story changes are, the greater the impact it is on the project, which will affect the quality and delivery of the project.

Agile project management, as an emerging project management model, simplifies the cumbersome process and documentation of traditional project management. Taking Scrum as a example, it welcomes changes. Agile facilitate the development of working software in a short period of time to help customers describe their requirements which is not quite clear at the beginning. Changes in requirements in the sprint will be added to the continuous iteration backlog, and the product features of the project are much enriched.

Similarities between agile project management and traditional project management

Agile values “working software over comprehensive documentation”, but it is necessary to have key project documents, such as requirements specifications. Therefore, agile project management can be seen as a tailored set of project management, but the scaleIs relatively big, which asks for the adaptability and autonomy from agile team members.

Specific agile practice in each sprint includes a Daily Scrum, Burndown Chart, Kanban monitoring, plan and release, etc., which demonstrates the five processes of the project life cycle in PMBOK, namely Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. The two are not conflicting with each other. Actually, Agile can be regarded as a miniature version of the five processes. The difference is that the sprint in agile is short, and many standardized and formal project management processes have been cut during the execution.
Differences between agile project management and traditional project management
  • Different management methods are suitable for different types of projects. Scrum is more suitable for unknown, unknowable or continuously changing projects;
  • Agile greatly shorten the feedback loop between customers and developers, expectations and implementations, and investment and return;
  • It is impossible to transform a small team into self-managed in a central controlled and scheduled system.

Recognition and understanding of project management modes

1. PMP

The framework of PMP is comprehensive and universal, rather than only for software development projects, so it is applied in the engineering, such as construction engineering, hardware, software development, etc.

The traditional project management model is divided into five processes and ten knowledge areas .

The five processes are Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

The ten knowledge areas are project integration management, project scope management, project time management, project cost management, project quality management, project human resource management, project communication management, project risk management, project procurement management, and project stakeholder management.

The processes and knowledge areas have concepts introduced, contents of input and output, and tools for project personnel to make use of.

In PMP, the role of the project manager is a controller and leader of the five processes, and is also responsible for the results.


When talking about roles in agile project management, it usually does not have project managers. The roles and responsibilities of the traditional project manager are shared by the entire team, namely the Development Team, the Scrum Master, and the Product Owner.

The goal of Scrum is to make the development transparent and reviewed in time, and to continuous develop.

The core of Scrum is the Sprint. A Sprint is an iteration, or a repetitive cycle of similar work, to increase the output of a product or system. The Sprint cycle of a product is fixed.

Based on the Sprint, a backlog is made, that is a to-do list. It is the same for every sprint backlog, that is to list clear goals, check the completion of tasks, and review the problems.

The agility of Scrum is that every sprint is continuous. Within the time window of each Sprint, 15% of the time is used to make a Sprint plan, and no time interval between two Sprints, which means the development is continuous.

The role of the Scrum Master is

1. not a project manager or IT manager, but a service-oriented guide.
2. responsible for the Scrum process to ensure it implement right to get maximum value.
3. hold a Sprint retrospective meeting, and plan improvement including what can be done in the next Sprint.


The traditional project management and agile project management have their own advantages. You can choose the right one for your project.
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