When to be agile, and when not to be

Hello! My name is Klas Skogmar and I work at Arkatay Consulting in Sweden and I’m a specialist in project, program and portfolio management. And now I’m just going to talk a little bit about when you should be Agile and when you should not be Agile.

This is a problem that many organizations are having. They really don’t know when they are going to use Agile Methodologies and when they are not supposed to do it.

If you take a look at the graph here on this slide – it is a very commonly used graph and it exists for example in the PMBOK Guide – it says that as a project progresses, the influence of stakeholders decreases and as the project progresses the cost of changes increases.

What this means is that in the beginning of a project it is very cheap to change your mind. If you just have an idea in your head then it’s just a matter of rethinking what you have in your head. When you have written things on paper or started to agree things with stakeholders, then it starts to become a little bit trickier to change things because then you have started to get them acceptance for certain ideas.

When you started to (for example in construction) to build something, you have dug the ground, then it becomes much more expensive and when you are halfway through your project and when you have built something, then it’s much, much more expensive to change things.

The thing is that different types of projects have different types of cost curves so some projects become increasingly much more expensive quicker than others. So in the domain of software for example doing computer programs, it’s very inexpensive even late in the project to change your mind.

But in some construction projects, it’s very expensive. If you want to move the bridge one meter in the final phases of a bridge project, then it is not a good idea. So what does cost of change – how does that impact agility?

If it is very costly to change your mind, then you want to plan to avoid any costly changes. If it is very cheap to change your mind, then you can decide later in the project. Therefore you increase your Agility if it is very cheap to change your mind later in the project.

This is one of the most important aspects of when you should be agile and when you should not so this is a very important graph to understand.

Thank you.

Dr. Deasún Ó Conchúir (pronounce) is a Collaboration Consultant at Scatterwork, which supports Project Solutions for Virtual Teams.

Email: deasun@scatterwork.com

Tel: +41 79 692 4735 Talk to me

LinkedIn: Connect with me

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