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The Agile and Waterfall – Does PMBoK 6th Edition address Agile methodology?


Agile has become a new buzzword in the project management community and a lot of queries do come at ProThoughts on which Agile certification we need to do. I do have a habit of checking with these candidates on why they want to pursue Agile? And most of the times, I do not get a convincing answer. Sometimes, it is like following the band-wagon.

So, I thought of putting up some information on the Agile methodology and the Agile way of working. Also, I would add on how PMBoK 6th edition incorporates the Agile way of working  – a significant addition to the 6th edition and in our PMP Success® Certification Program.

De-coding Agile Methodology: 

Agile Manifesto was typically developed for be-spoke or custom development environments, where you cannot elicit the requirements at the start of the project. Maybe, these kinds of projector requirements haven’t been done earlier. Who typically does these kinds of projects? A lot of software product companies such as say Google, Microsoft etc. So, since the stakeholders do not know the requirements very clearly at the start, the team develops and iterates the requirements with these stakeholders till the stakeholders agree to accept the requirements. This essentially gave rise to new terminologies, newer ways of doing a project plan which is called “sprints” and the authority to the team rather than the project manager because the team develops, tests and hands over the requirements and the project manager are more of a coordinator role.

To me, at the heart of project management, the concept of project management remains the same – you need to plan and then execute, check if everything is going as per plan and then close. As I read somewhere, the word “project’ is derived from a Latin word which means “to plan”. So, planning is essential even if you do in short cycles (sprints) or long cycles.

“Of course, there is more to the Agile way of managing things – the most important is the mindset to manage projects which may be different from managing a large project, which is more predictive and where you know the requirements beforehand. “

Agile In Waterfall Methodology:

I had written a technical paper way back in 2009 about Hybrid Methodology  where I had integrated the Agile methodology with the Waterfall methodology and used for a large ERP project. My technical paper was selected by the PMI and I was invited to speak at the National conference for the same. The same philosophy is used in the PMBoK 6th edition in 2018 where they are suggesting that Agile can be used in the waterfall (predictive) cycle or both can co-exist in the same project. It is up to the project manager to choose which project life cycle and developmental life cycle should be used in the project. The project manager can tailor the methodology as per the projects needs. The PMBoK 6th edition has an addendum to the Agile Manifesto by Agile Alliance.

Essential High-Level Differences in Agile (Adaptive) V/s Waterfall

I have tried to summarize the essential differences between Agile (Adaptive) and Waterfall way of doing a project.

Different Certifications in Agile:

If you want to get a deep dive into Agile, PMI offers another certification – PMI-ACP which makes you certified to handle only Agile projects. The exam is the toughest among the available Agile certifications and the PMI-ACP certification, I believe, is currently the most effective one from the practical applicability as well. The other popular certifications are Scrum Master and one new started by Axelos (Prince2 Agile®).

Choose a certification, whether Agile or PMP or both, which you can use in your practical workplace current situation or which you can anticipate your future roles. The PMP on the 6th edition is now perceived to be all-rounder certification covering both the waterfall and Agile and is the most popular certification as per the demand we see in the market.

You can also read What are the changes on PMBOK 6th Edition?

Happy reading – hope the blog was useful.

I had kept the blog short and simple. For more details, happy to answer any queries or comments. You can personally drop me a message at ashish_sadekar@prothoughts.co.in or get connected at Linkedin and we can discuss in the message window.

All the best!!

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