About this lesson
Many projects are initiated with significant aspects of uncertainty. The adaptive approach is ideally suited to manage uncertainty during the project and the Agile methodology is the most common adaptive approach in use.
Adaptive and Agile Approaches
Adaptive project lifecycles are iterative and incremental in nature. The Agile project lifecycle approach is a special case of adaptive projects that do frequent delivery of deliverables.
When to use
Adaptive and Agile projects are best suited for projects with high uncertainty or high risks. These projects will have flexible scope, but often have a fixed time period.
Adaptive and Agile projects are gaining in acceptance. These approaches easily accommodate change – in fact they are designed for projects with high uncertainty where requirements are often changing. These projects often work to a set of prioritized requirements or deliverables that are maintained on a list known as the backlog. This list is reprioritized regularly and the requirements are progressively elaborated as the project unfolds. These methodologies embrace change as a constant in the project and therefore plan for regular changes and modifications.
The adaptive and Agile methodologies are in sharp contrast to the traditional or predictive approach to project management.
Agile project management methods were developed in the software industry, but the principles have widespread applicability. The Agile method relies on using time box estimates to set a time for the project. The project is normally divided into multiple releases. Each of those releases will be of a minimally viable product that can be evaluated by customers and stakeholders. The releases are usually divided into a set of several sprints. Each sprint is normally two to three weeks in duration. The sprint is comprised of daily scrum activities. Several key characteristics of the Agile method is that the teams are 100% dedicated for the duration of a sprint. Also, the team is working a backlog list that is updated and reprioritized at the end of each sprint.
Project Risk with Adaptive Projects
Adaptive project lifecycles are well suited to high risk projects. It is very difficult to accurately forecast all risks. Adaptive projects allow for regular updates to project requirements and plans that can respond to risk threats and opportunities without requiring a major change to detailed project plans. Instead, the adaptive project has pre-planned reviews where the risks responses are incorporated. The iterative nature of the project leads to a periodic exercise of the project initiation actions. When doing these, deliverables are updated. The project plan is only a detailed plan for the current phase which allows the project to progressively elaborate each phase at the start of the phase. The adaptive project lifecycle relies on a very interactive project manager and project core team to regularly review and reprioritize activities.
Hints & tips
- Don’t try to use traditional predictive methods when an adaptive approach is appropriate. Using predictive methods will just set the project up for failure to meet goals or objectives.
- If you need to know more about Agile methods, take the GoSkills course in Agile Scrum.
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