Many years ago, as a traditional, PRINCE2 project manager, I battled with the apparently counter-intuitive demands of my stakeholders and PMO for big detailed plans up front, when no-one in my team really knew the answers.
Further, I am not naturally a command-and-control sort of bloke and giving detailed task-level instructions to professional developers who knew more about their craft than I did was also very difficult for me.
But when I discovered Agile and it’s focus on collaboration and iterative development, I realised that it suited my natural style of teamwork. The agile project manager or Scrum ‘master’ is a “servant-leader” and I like that. I like how I planned at the level of detail I was comfortable with and I was instantly more successful with it. My projects were delivered on time and with delighted customers, unlike in the past where that was not the norm.
I was reminded of this while reading a thread in the Agile Alliance group on LinkedIn. Scott Ambler has been gathering and publishing statistics for a while now and concludes: “there is no statistical difference (yet) between agile, iterative and waterfall, so claims that waterfall is better (or worse) than agile at scale aren’t backed up by actual data that I know of.”
Personally I have (perhaps mistakenly) viewed “Agile” as an umbrella term for a number of methods, including Scrum and DSDM. In that context, Agile feels more natural to me, more common-sense and I have yet to find anyone who, having tried it, feels it is not better than waterfall.
Whilst it is impossible to run the same project twice, I can say with certainty that in over 5 years, we have never failed an agile project, nor has one been delivered significantly late. I am hoping to start creating some metrics soon to prove how well it does work and to drive further improvements. On that subject, stay tuned.