The agile approach was initially applied to new software development but as time has moved on and, especially in the current environment, businesses are finding that this approach can be applied to a variety of scenarios.

Anne-Marie Pretorius from Bizmod Consulting says that the agile approach is not suited to all situations and project leaders need to be cognisant of what approach the project requires to ensure success.

At its heart the agile approach professes to – value individuals and interactions, value working software, value customer collaboration and finally value responding to change.

“It is the last point that we find particularly relevant,” says Pretorius. “Changes, delays, and lengthy decision making is a reality for many organisations and projects, and the agile approach allows for shorter cycle controls and rapid adaption.”

As information changes, priorities change and the focus of delivery changes. Having said that, the end goal or overall deliverable should be kept in mind and agile should be used to deliver projects faster, of a higher quality and ultimately within budget and not, as happens in badly executed agile projects, meandering, scope creep, never quite done deliverables.

Pretorius says that project leaders should consider the below when deciding whether an agile or more traditional approach would be more appropriate:

* Culture – how much trust is in the team, how much autonomy in terms of decision making does the team have, how much buy into the agile approach exists within the organisation?

* Team – how experienced is the team in the agile approach, how much access to the customers and stakeholders does the team have and how large is the team?

* Project – the deliverables should be assessed on the likelihood to change, criticality and whether there will be incremental delivery.

All of these should be considered and if more than two of them are deemed not aligned to the ‘ideal’ agile delivery model then an alternative approach should be considered.

“The culture element will have a significant impact on the suitability of an agile approach. If a team has little autonomy and the leadership have not bought into an agile delivery approach then even if the rest of the elements are positive, an agile delivery model will either be very difficult, or ultimately not deliver on the required value add,” says Pretorius.

“Project leaders should remain flexible when deciding which approach to apply – pragmatism over fundamentalism is vital.”