Agile project management is an umbrella term for development methods that take an incremental and iterative approach. Although it originated in software development, and is still principally found in that environment, the principles can be applied to other disciplines.

The different flavours of agile are united by certain key characteristics:

  • Short development iterations known as sprints.
  • Very close working between developers and stakeholders.
  • Regular reprioritisation of work.
  • Rapid and flexible approach to addressing scope change.

Various techniques have evolved to support these characteristics such as timeboxes for scheduling, MoSCoW for prioritisation and burn down charts for progress reporting.

One very simple way of understanding the difference between agile and more traditional forms of development is their relationship to the triple constraint.


agile triangles


In traditional projects, the emphasis is on scope. Within the identification process and definition process, the requirements management and solutions development functions play a major role. Planning then derives time and cost from scope.

In agile projects, the emphasis is on time and cost. Scope is derived from these so that planning is concerned with what scope can be delivered within the constraints of time and cost. The identification and definition processes are reduced and focus on broad functions and features rather than the detail of what will deliver those functions and features. The detail is prototyped during the delivery process and finalised through close co-operation between stakeholders and developers.

One of the most common development frameworks for agile projects is scrum.

27th August 2014 Final paragraph 2nd line: 'constraints of time and scope' corrected to read 'constraints of time and cost'. Thanks to David Creighton-Offord on Disqus.
20th September 2014 New final paragraph with link to scrum development


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