Agile Project Management vs. Waterfall Project Management

by Frederick Marx

What was once a means to keep software developers on task, and within the scope of their projects, Agile project methodologies have pushed the boundaries of what it means to manage a project and be part of a project. Even further, agile leadership has become a near-standard for managers across the globe.


Let’s take a quick journey to discuss some of Agile’s original principles and how they differ from traditional “waterfall” project management. We’ll also touch on how people can benefit from Agile and how we at Keylingo embrace agile as a work philosophy.


Agile Principles

Introduced in 2001, Agile was designed to allow software developers to self-organize in collaboration with the customer to ensure the product met their expectations.


Holding to its namesake, Agile allows teams to be focused as needed via adaptive planning and flexible responses. This leads to a more adjustable process, allowing a team to pivot for simple change evolutions if required. Not having a rigid ruleset is built into the Agile Manifesto.


Waterfall vs. Agile

The rule to have rules is the main difference between traditional project management- waterfall- and agile. It’s often called Waterfall Methodology due to the flow of the project from top to bottom, where one piece won’t typically start until another is finished. Also, like a waterfall, the project can only flow forward; you can’t (easily) go backward. Thus, it’s pretty rigid.


As previously discussed, agile is without stringent rules. Self-organizing within agile ensures teams can make the rules that fit the group. If an issue arises, there are no problems going back to an earlier task to update it (this may be a whole new task, to edit a task, in a traditional approach).


Benefits of Agile

To get the most out of Agile, whether you’re using it to build software, build a structure, to manage translation requests, lead a team, or perform change management, you need to go into it with the understanding that change should be expected. It’s one of the best benefits of doing a project via Agile methodology- if everyone is on board.


Agile isn’t just for project management either. Since its inception in 2001, it has expanded beyond just a project management method and into a complete management philosophy.


In short, being an Agile manager takes a lot from the practice of being an agile project team leader; everything you do, you do so that your team can succeed. For example, you remove obstacles, ensure the team has what they need, let the group self-organize, etc. This is where Keylingo gets its management philosophy- we empower our teams and allow them to navigate their daily work and management practices in an Agilistic fashion.


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