Project Initiation–Traditional vs. Agile Project Management

In the third chapter called “Initiating Projects” of his book “PMI-ACP Exam Prep PLUS Desk Reference”, John Stenbeck starts the discussion of the first process group called “Initiation” by making a quick comparison of this process group between traditional project management and agile project management.

Similarities between Initiation in Traditional vs. Agile Project Management

Before discussing the differences, John Stenbeck mentions the similarities.   First of all, he stresses the importance of project initiation for both traditional vs. agile project management.    Planning is about being efficient in reaching the goal of the project, initiating is about being effective in reaching the goal.    To put it another way, planning is about climbing the ladder to get to the top of the wall; initiating is about choosing the right wall to climb.

In terms of processes, stakeholder identification is a process common to both traditional and agile project management.    PMI has addressed the increasing importance of stakeholder engagement in the traditional PM framework by making stakeholder engagement a new knowledge area unto itself with the publishing of the 5th Edition PMBOK Guide at the end of 2012.

Differences between Initiation in Traditional vs. Agile Project Management

If you think of the three triple constraints of scope, time and cost, traditional project management focuses on scope, and then figures out in the planning stage how much time and cost it will take to achieve that scope.    In agile project management, on the other hand, it is time which is usually focuses on as the chief constraint, and then in the planning stage one figures out how much value can be added in any given stretch of time.

Given this different approach to the triple constraints right from the start, the details of the initiating process group start to diverge right from the start between traditional and agile project management.

Given the Agile Process Map that was described in the last post, the portion of that map that comes under the initiating process group will be discussed in the next post.   After that overall process is described, I will start to go into detail about the individual project management processes that make up that overall agile process.


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