The Tangible Difference between Traditional and Agile Projects

The Mindset Shift

Anna Majowska
3 min readJun 26, 2018

The key difference when comparing traditional and Agile project management approaches lies not so much in the processes and methods, but in the team’s mindset.
Team members are asked to address the final, business view of their working matter, rather than see their daily tasks as work objects in a vacuum, unrelated to anything else. This is the core distinction.

Planning is a Necessity

Without knowledge of what you want to achieve during a project, there is no good way of ensuring that the team will achieve anything at all — this is understandable. But it’s not enough to set one, general goal — success is much more likely to occur after the necessary steps needed to achieve it are all named and followed.
Why leave the whole thing down to chance? Of course, there must be some amount of trust placed on the team and their know-how, but unless the team is always doing one and the same thing — defining steps and methods is the only way to solve the uncertainty of a new and challenging workload.
As mentioned already, what should be addressed especially are the business implications that a project will have — the big picture.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Even with good planning, a traditionally run project will often come to a point where no further changes can be made — the team and the customer need to accept the initial assumptions as standing throughout the course of the project. And this is fine for a whole lot of activity, in which the requirements are set in stone.
But for a subject matter that is likely to undergo frequent changes, there needs to be a way of working the changes into the process WHILE it is ongoing. This will apply to more than a fair share of software development projects, for example.
For such ventures an Agile approach to project management has got to be the better option due to its inherent flexibility.

Communication & Problem Solving

While traditional project methods can stick to a top-down communication flow, Agile supports open communication throughout the team. This helps to facilitate the ever-present changes and speeds up workload sharing and assignment.
It will also be beneficial in cases of project management’s common, unforeseen problems. While traditional management methods would ask for these to be escalated to the top, running with Agile allows for the problems to be brought up front and worked with directly as and when they occur.

Shared Ownership and Traceable Project Input

It may seem that if the entire team is made responsible for the project, the danger is for no one in particular to take the responsibility for anything. But thanks to Agile-typical project tracking methods, such as online collaboration tools, daily stand-ups and retrospectives — it becomes easy to see who has had what kind of impact on the activity. That’s how letting the team own the project and jump into it with both feet makes the team members feel in charge of what they do and take responsibility for it.

Other benefits of choosing an Agile method for a project are likely to include:

  • Reduced risk of failure, since changes can be made while in progress
  • More transparency within the project, which greatly supports knowledge sharing and cross-training of the team
  • Potential to boost the speed of product delivery
  • Easier monitoring and review thanks to the Agile — specific tracking tools

Try your hand at running a project the Agile way — hardly any investment is needed to try it out. Empower your team to take a more hands-on approach with a digital Kanban Tool.

This article was originally written for the Kanban Tool Blog.