Project management is an important concept in the success of a business or any organisation. The concept that is adopted needs to facilitate the performance of the organisation in general. Blackstone and Schleier define a project as “a sequence of unique, complex, and connected activities that have one goal or purpose and that must be completed by a specific time, within a budget, and according to some specifications” (2009, 7022).
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This argument means that it is related to goal formation and its achievement in any organisation. For a project to be carried out, some of the characteristics about it must be evaluated and planned for by the project managers. This function is performed through project management.
Project management, therefore, is the mobilising, organising, planning, and controlling of resources that will facilitate the achievement of a particular goal (Blackstone, & Schleier 2009, p. 7031). The goals set in a project are temporary as compared to business operations that are routine and repetitive for a particular organisation.
A special form of management is required to ensure that the goals are realised while at the same time dealing with the apparent challenges. There are a number of approaches that are used in project management with the most common of them being the traditional and the agile project management approaches (Blackstone, & Schleier 2009, 7032).
This paper compares the concept and practice of quality control/management in traditional project management approaches such as Prince 2 with the concept and practice of quality control/management in agile project management approaches such as SCRUM.
Quality control and management in traditional project management approaches
Traditional project management is between the two major types of project management commonly used with positive results. There are many definitions of traditional project management with a standard definition being provided by the PMBOK. According to PMBOK, traditional project management is “a set of techniques and tools that can be applied to an activity that seeks an end product, outcomes, or a service” (Blackstone, & Schleier 2009, 7032).
As stated by Saynisch, traditional project management “uses orthodox methods and techniques in the management process” (2005). A series of steps are used in traditional approach in project management.
The five stages including the control are initiation, planning and design, execution and construction, monitoring and controlling systems, and completion (Saynisch 2005, p. 582). These stages are not present in all the projects. They are only included depending on the type of project, scale, and intended result among other factors.
When the traditional approach of project management is applied, the results expected are easily predictable because the methods and techniques used as well as the tools have been proven over time (Saynisch 2010, p. 32). This method of project management, therefore, presents as a preferred method for many organisations based on its predictability.
In the initiation phase of a project, there is an in-depth elaboration and exploration of the idea in the project with the decisions on the people to execute the project being made. Afterwards, the proposal for the project is written with the necessary information gathered above.
The definition phase involves the specification of the requirements associated with the project results. This phase is then followed by the development of a specific design by which the results will be achieved (Saynisch 2005, p. 582). The development phase follows where all the necessary materials for the implementation of the project are acquired and readied for the project implementation.
The implementation phase is the second last phase in which the project takes shape with the intentions being clearly elucidated. The follow-up phase is the last but the most important phase where the project is brought to a successful completion. In this phase, examples of activities include the provision of handbooks on the project, writing a report on the project, and review of the project (Saynisch 2010, p. 32).
Quality control and management in agile project management approaches
Agile project management is another form of project management that borrows heavily from the traditional approach of project management. It has a number of differences from the above-discussed traditional approach. These differences are very apparent. Based on the advantages and applicability of the approach in some of the business fields, the approach is common.
The agile approach of project management is mainly used in software design industry, website development, marketing, technology and creative industries (Fernandez, & Fernandez, 2008, p. 17). As the name suggests, the agile approach of project management entails the execution of tasks in small series (Fernandez, & Fernandez, 2008, p. 17) contrary to the traditional approach that is pre-planned before the execution of the whole process.
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In the information and technology industry, agile approach of project management is used to determine the requirements during the engineering process. An example of the same approach is the agile software development that is used in the same field (Sue, Kendall, & Kendall 2012, 13). Examples of software methodologies include the eXtreme Programming (XP), SCRUM, and Feature-Driven Development.
These methodologies aim at reducing the “cost of change throughout the software development process” (Procter et al 2011, p. 213: Edmonds 1974). Agile methodologies experienced significant success in the initial stages of development. They were seen as alternatives to the traditional approaches of project management.
However, as Fernandez and Fernandez state, the methodologies encountered a challenge with a widespread adoption as the advocates of the methods found it “difficult to obtain management support for implementing what seems like dramatic changes in application development” (2008, p. 17). The methods elicit changes in the way the managers and the software developers think and carry out their activities.
According to Procter et al., agile approach of project management allows a process that is flexible enough for the management. At the same time, it is controlled enough to lead to the delivery of solutions (2011, p. 213). Procter et al. continue to state that the method achieves results via combination of cumulative knowledge and techniques such as iterative development and modelling (2011, p. 213).
Flexibility is not replaced by efficiency. The management using the method is more result oriented. Over the last few decades, agile approach of project management has been considered as the preferred method for developers because it allowed delivery of efficiency in the projects. Results could be obtained on time while at the same time allowing for the accommodation of any changes along the way.
Comparison of quality control and management in traditional and agile project management approaches
A number of differences exist between the traditional and agile project management practices. The first difference between the two approaches is in the projects to which the processes are used and subjected. According to Procter et al., “traditional projects are clearly defined with well documented and understood features, functions, and requirements.
In contrast, however, agile projects discover the complete project requirements by doing the project in iterations thereby reducing and eliminating uncertainty” (2011, p. 213).
According to this observation, therefore, agile provides a riskier method of project management compared to the traditional method approach of project management. On the other hand, the agile approach is more flexible. In fact, in the case where change is needed during project management, the approach is easier to adjust.
Another key difference between the two approaches is in the type of managers with which each is associated. As stated above, traditional approach of project management encompasses a number of things that must be fulfilled for the process to work, among them being the financing and the time management.
It is from these characteristics that the traditional project managers are shaped. As Ghosh observes, “traditional project managers manage their projects against the budget, schedule, and scope” (2012, p. 11). He continues to add that metrics and variance can be tracked against the planned baselines (Ghosh 2012, p. 11).
Based also on the observation that the agile approach is associated with more risk than the traditional one, this observation may influence the choice of approach that managers choose to use. Some managers choose to use the traditional approach of project management. The traditional project managers “want to reduce the risks and preserve the constraints of time and money” (Blackstone, & Schleier 2009, 7032).
A manager who chooses to apply the agile approach of project management is effectively referred to as the agile project manager. This type of manager is more focused on the deliverables besides being not afraid to take the risks associated with the type of management.
The budget that is required to meet the project as well as the timeline within which the project will be achievable is of lesser concern to this manager (Blackstone, & Schleier 2009, p. 7033). This manager is focused on delivery. He or she is less concerned of the process that is used to achieve this goal, as it is the case with the traditional project manager.
The other difference between the two approaches is in the teams involved in the two of them. According to Saynisch, “while traditional projects can more easily support distributed work teams of specialists and junior members because of the well-defined requirements and other documentation, this strategy is not the case with agile project teams” (2010, p. 32).
On the contrary, agile project teams are described as requiring the co-location of the members of the team so that change may be embraced with increments being produced (Saynisch 2010, p. 34). Agile project members are also expected to be more committed than the traditional team members are because they take more responsibility and roles in the projects (Blackstone, & Schleier 2009, p. 7032).
The methods of measuring the success of the two approaches of project management are different based on the characteristics of each approach. One of the methods of measuring this success is through the use successful applications documented in literature. The agile methodology is documented as having had success in some literatures in the cost of the whole method.
According to Ghosh, “Agile methods emphasise teams, working software , customer collaboration, and responding to change while traditional methods focus on contracts, plans, processes, documents, and tools” (2012, p. 12). Some of the other measures that may be used to measure the success of the two approaches apart from the cost efficiency include the use of schedule, quality, ROI gains, satisfaction, and productivity (Ghosh 2012, p. 11).
According to the research done comparing the two methods, the agile method was more cost effective compared to the traditional approach of project management (Ghosh 2012, p. 11). The case reveals that the agile approach is more applicable based on this consideration.
Based on the other approaches that may be used to measure the success of the two processes, it is right to conclude that the application of the agile approach has been more by the small organisations with the traditional method being more popular to the larger ones (Blackstone, & Schleier 2009, p. 7032)
As discussed above, it is important to choose a method of project management that facilitates the achievement of the set goals. Two major approaches of project management have been discussed: the traditional and the agile approaches of project management. The traditional approach came before the agile approach.
It is more concerned with the processes, the financing, and many other things stated above. It involves planning before the project can be realised. In most cases, it is not flexible. On the other hand, the agile approach of project management involves taking more risks. It is not concerned with the process. It is also flexible as no planning is involved.
Based on the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of these approaches, it is possible to recommend the types of organisations and businesses that each would suit. As for the agile approach, the method is more applicable in the information and technology industry where flexibility is more applicable.
The traditional approach of project management is more suited for big institutions and organisations where risks are not to be taken blindly because the approach involves a lot of planning. Hence, there would be more accountability.
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