Is Agile Still the Champion of Project Management Methodologies?

Is Agile still the king of Project Management? We answer that question and more in this article.

Over 70 percent of organizations use Agile more frequently than they used to. This growing adoption is, in part, driven by the need for innovation and flexibility.

As Phillippe Husser, Senior Partner of Progress Direction at Michelin describes:

The world is changing very quickly around us, so much so that we cannot afford anymore to have projects taking two to five years to deliver, because, during this time, the initial requirements have changed.

But how does Agile compare to other project management methodologies? Is it really considered the 'champion', or is that the story we're led to believe?
Let's dive into some of our key findings.

The Project Management Divide

According to a report published by the Project Management Institute, when it comes to choosing a methodology:

  • 44 percent of organizations use Waterfall/traditional practices always or often.
  • 41 percent of organizations use Agile practices always or often.
  • 32 percent of organizations use a hybrid approach always or often.

Going off this data, we can comfortably ascertain that Agile is not the most popular methodology. In fact, organizations use a blend of all three approaches.

This could be, in part, due to the differing nature of project management needs, particularly across different sectors.

Which Industries Suit Agile?

When thinking of Agile, you may immediately jump to software development, where the project management methodology originated. But Agile isn't just a solution for players in the software development space.

In fact, organizations that wish to champion innovative practices may adopt the methodology, too. Some examples include:

  • Aerospace companies.
  • Marketing agencies.
  • Engineering firms.
  • Consumer goods.

The latter may take you by surprise. But, as McKinsey finely puts it:

The results can be impressive [in the consumer goods industry]. In product lines where agile is used, companies have seen as much as a fourfold increase in revenues, and the time it takes to get new marketing ideas in front of customers has compressed from multiple weeks or months to less than two weeks.

On the other hand, industries that use rigid project models or face heavy regulations - such as finance or healthcare - are less likely to adopt the methodology. Instead, they favour more traditional approaches, such as Waterfall.

Getting Granular

Of course, it's not as simple as assigning project management methodologies to set industries.

In the research article, 'Can Agile Project Management Be Adopted by Industries Other than Software Development?', the authors examine 19 different businesses within varying sectors.

In their findings, they discovered that businesses with certain characteristics similar to that of the Software Development industry could comfortably use Agile project management for at least some of their projects. Characteristics include organizational structure type, project team size, and project management experience.

The APM [Agile Project Management] approach could be adapted to non-software companies, or more traditional industry sectors, at least for innovative projects or even for some parts of the project that require a more flexible management approach.

Is Agile Still Champion?

There's no doubt about it: Agile is certainly popular.

But we'd go as far to say, no, Agile isn't the champion of project management. It's one of the champions. (There are no biases here!)

In any organization - whether it's inherently innovative or highly traditional - there will be projects that are more suited to Agile and projects that aren't. And, to complicate matters further, there will be projects that could use a hybrid blend of iterative and traditional practices, too.

So, when choosing your project management champion, don't just follow the hype. It's all down to your unique requirements and expectations.