Agile

“Agile” refers to a group of development methodologies that utilize an iterative and incremental approach which helps teams deliver products in short cycles, enabling fast feedback, continual improvement, and rapid adaptation to change.

  • Agile is based on the agile manifesto.
  • “Scrum” is a widely used agile framework.
  • Agile is most often associated with software development but can be applied to many types of projects.

Agile Considerations

While some GW projects can benefit greatly from employing an agile methodology, many are better suited for a traditional/waterfall approach. Using an agile methodology does not necessarily equate to a quicker finish; in fact, the overall duration of an agile project may often be longer due to the iterative nature of this methodology. Agile should not be considered unless there is customer buy-in and someone on the project team with the expertise to guide the use of agile methodology.

Project stakeholders should carefully evaluate the following factors when considering the use of an agile methodology.

Factor

Characteristics

Traditional / Waterfall

Agile

Requirements

Stakeholders already have a good idea of what the final product should look like

X

 

Stakeholders only have a general idea of what the final product should look like and need assistance in developing the idea (prototyping, etc)

 

X

Scope of Work

Scope is well defined in the Proposal/Charter - it is clear what is to be developed

X

 

Scope is only defined at a high level – iterative delivery will help clarify scope along the way

 

X

Objectives

Quality and completeness of the entire feature set is the highest priority

X

 

Speed of delivery, even with partial feature set, is the highest priority

 

X

Product Delivery

The entire product must be delivered all at once or in significant phases

X

 

The product is delivered incrementally

 

X

Customer Involvement

Project / Product Owner unable to commit to extensive involvement throughout the project

X

 

Project / Product Owner highly and actively involved in daily activity throughout the project

 

X

Project Team

Core project team is temporary & cross-functional – composed of groups brought together only for this particular project

X

 

Core project team is dedicated – composed of groups who frequently work together on this type of project

 

X

 

PMLC for Agile Projects

Projects that use agile development methodologies involve different processes and artfacts than do projects using a traditional/waterfall methodology; however, both agile and traditional/waterfall projects can be executed within the PMLC governance. The minimum PMLC process and artifacts for agile projects are as follows:

  • Idea document (Division of Information Technology) and/or proposal/charter (Division of Finance)
  • Project manager, functional manager or ScrumMaster
  • Idea/proposal phase gate review
  • Project planning and execution, including the following:
    • Product backlog or similar tool to document and manage business requirements
    • Team charter or similar document that describes how sprints/iterations will be structured, the team member roles and the team "ground rules"
    • Acceptance criteria or similar guidelines to provide a basis for testing and approval of delivered products/features
    • Release strategy or similar guidelines that define the approach to be followed for each deployment of new products/features
  • Lessons learned final report
  • Project closing phase gate review

Contact the Project Management Office

If you have questions or a request, please contact Christina Griffin, Director of the Project Management Office, at cgriffin@gwu.edu