Is Your Team Fit For Agile Project Development?

As a recognized project management methodology, Agile project development frameworks are praised for their resilient, collaborative, and quality-driven nature. Although many industries have made an effort to shift their teams toward Agile practices, don’t mistake it for a one-way ticket to a successful project. Trying to force the application of Agile where not appropriate not…

Is Your Team Fit For Agile Project Development

As a recognized project management methodology, Agile project development frameworks are praised for their resilient, collaborative, and quality-driven nature. Although many industries have made an effort to shift their teams toward Agile practices, don’t mistake it for a one-way ticket to a successful project. Trying to force the application of Agile where not appropriate not only fails to serve your project, but can also become a detriment with some teams. In this article, we’ll explore the many factors that contribute to project teams struggling with Agile, and how you can move your project forward without Agile.  

Why Agile Project Development?

What has made Agile one of the most utilized project management methodologies? Agile project management is an iterative and incremental approach to planning, guiding, and executing project processes. It is highly flexible and adaptive, originally rooted in software development but now applied in a variety of verticals and fields. By breaking work down into smaller, manageable increments called iterations or sprints, teams can regularly deliver functional portions of the product, enabling continuous customer involvement and feedback. This ensures that the delivery is continually satisfying expectations and empowers quick course correction if not, which dramatically increases the probability of success and ROI.

This method fosters clear communication and collaboration within the team through daily stand-up meetings and regular feedback loops with other teams and stakeholders. This consistent, honest communication maintains the health of the project by promoting transparency and encourages issues to be flagged early-on. 

The main appeal of Agile is that its self-governed mercuriality allows teams to respond to project changes swiftly, yet dynamically. With Agile, projects can evolve based on real-world conditions and emerging requirements. This results in higher product quality, enhanced customer satisfaction, and reduced risk. This resilience to change ensures survival and a competitive edge in rapidly evolving markets.  As attractive as Agile is, its frameworks demand constant adaptability, which is not easily achievable or even possible for every project team. 

Project Manager directing and wondering if her Team is Fit For Agile Project Development

How To Know If Agile Project Development Isn’t For Your Project Team

Your Team Has Trouble Understanding Agile

Transitioning to Agile project development requires a mindset shift and specific skills. It is still a very unconventional method for managing projects. Agile frameworks are a strange case, as there are times that they can go against everything one is traditionally taught about managing a project and completing tasks. Not every team member will immediately adjust to Agile. That being said, if a majority of your team is crumbling under Agile, you may need a different approach. 

Your Team Is Resistant To Agile

Agile may conflict with your team’s expectations or working styles, resulting in team members directly or indirectly resisting the implementation of Agile practices. A project manager can foster the team through this process and help them adapt to an Agile environment. If there are time constraints preventing a project manager from doing this, it’s more efficient to shift gears altogether. Give your team the chance to give feedback on the Agile process to address fears or concerns. 

Your Project Is Highly Regulated

Industries like aeronautics, healthcare, or the government have strict regulations and norms for product development processes. Regulatory projects demand substantial formal documentation, rigid predefined processes, rigorous change control, thorough verification and validation, and meticulous traceability of project activities. Agile’s emphasis on working software over documentation, frequent changes, and dynamic processes can conflict with these requirements. This makes it challenging to maintain compliance and satisfy audits. These conditions often hinder performance and the flow of work.

Your Project Has Immovable Deadlines And Limited Resources

Again, Agile project development depends on flexibility at every level of the project structure. Agile promotes iterative development with short, time-boxed cycles (sprints) that allow teams to refine and improve the product incrementally based on feedback.

Inflexible deadlines can limit the number of iterations, potentially reducing the opportunity to adapt and optimize the product to expectation. Strict deadlines can lead to rushed work, as teams feel pressured to meet deadlines at the cost of quality assurance. Furthermore, just as Agile requires flexibility in your team members, it also requires flexibility in scope. A prioritized backlog manages scope iteratively and drives effectiveness with strategic alignment. Rigid budgets habitually constrain flexibility, limiting the ability to explore options, experiment, and pivot if need be. Constraints like these will frequently lower organizational appetite for continual team and individual improvement. All of which are not only an Agile “must have,” but another element that safeguards market competitiveness. 

Project Manager helps team Is Your Team Fit For Agile Project Development

Other Methodologies

If Agile project development frameworks are not the right fit for you, here are a few project management methodologies that may work better. 


The Waterfall framework is a traditional project management methodology that follows a linear and sequential approach to project planning and execution. It is named “Waterfall” because the project progresses through distinct, cascading phases, each dependent on the completion of the previous one.

Key Characteristics of Waterfall:

  • Linear and Sequential Process: The project flows in a straight line through a defined sequence of phases (Initiate, Plan, Execute, Monitor & Control, Close), with each phase dependent on the completion of the previous one.
  • Documentation and Planning: Extensive documentation is created at each phase, ensuring that all requirements, designs, and plans are well-documented and approved before moving to the next phase.
  • Defined Milestones: The methodology sets fixed milestones that must be achieved before progressing to the next phase, providing a clear roadmap to deliver an agreed outcome and a step-by-step plan to get there. It is not uncommon to hear the words “Funnel & Gates” when describing the criteria required to progress along the continuum.

You can try experimenting with combining Agile practices with the more traditional Waterfall project management methodology. Learn how it can be done, the pitfalls to avoid, and the steps you can take to implement it here

Is Your Team Fit For Agile Project Development kanban may be another option


The Kanban framework is a highly visual Agile project management method that emphasizes continuous delivery, efficiency, and workflow optimization. Originating from the symbiotic combination of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and lean manufacturing principles, Kanban helps teams to manage work by visualizing tasks, limiting work in progress, and maximizing flow.

Key Characteristics of Kanban

  • Visual Workflow Management: Kanban uses visual boards (physical or digital) to represent the workflow, making task progress transparent and easy to understand at a glance.
  • Work in Progress (WIP) Limits: Kanban sets explicit limits on the number of tasks that can be in-progress at any given time, helping to prevent bottlenecks and overburdening team members.
  • Continuous Delivery: Unlike time-boxed iterations in Scrum, Kanban focuses on continuous delivery, allowing prioritized tasks to be pulled through the workflow as soon as capacity becomes available.
  • Flow Efficiency: The goal is to create a smooth and efficient flow of tasks from start to finish, optimizing the entire process flow and continually reducing waste along the way. 

Critical Path

Although not a Project methodology, the Critical Path Method (CPM) is a project management technique used to identify the sequence of tasks that determine the minimum completion time for a project. It focuses on mapping out crucial dependencies and timelines to ensure that project milestones are met without delays. This is only included in this article to highlight its varied application.

It is almost natural to apply CPM to Waterfall but many don’t see how it can be applied to Agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban. This may well be true at the team level, but when one has several teams or groups of teams performing a variety of diverse tasks to achieve a common outcome, It can be easily applied. However, in most of these cases, the suggestion would be to look towards Scaled Agile Frameworks for greater ROI.

Key Characteristics of Critical Path Method

  • Task Sequencing: Tasks are laid out in a sequence where the start of one task depends on the completion of another.
  • Dependency Identification: The methodology identifies and highlights dependencies between tasks to understand which activities directly impact the project timeline.
  • Critical Path Identification: The critical path is the longest (duration) path through the task network, identifying tasks that cannot be delayed without affecting the overall project completion date.
  • Flexibility Analysis: CPM helps determine the “float” or “slack” in the schedule, indicating how much any non-critical task can be delayed without impacting the project’s end date.

While Agile project development frameworks bring unparalleled flexibility and responsiveness to project teams, they are not universally suited for everyone. By understanding your team’s degree of adaptability, regulatory constraints, and the flexibility of your project deadlines and budgets, you can determine whether Agile is the right fit. 

Conclusion: Navigating Projects Without Agile Project Development

Imposing Agile in unsuitable contexts can hinder progress or directly lead to failure. Exploring alternative methodologies such as Waterfall or Kanban, can offer more structured and predictable approaches, ensuring your project’s success. By aligning the right methodology with your team’s strengths and project needs, you can move forward confidently, effectively and efficiently. Altering your project development methodology can prove challenging, especially in large organizations. Scenarios such as this require the careful hand of seasoned experts like those here at Valstroom. Contact us today to learn more about adapting your projects in a rapidly evolving landscape. We can guide you and your teams with the strategic formula to maintain healthy, high-performing, large scale projects and productive, happy, sustainable teams.

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