Team work

A comparison of agile and traditional project methods

A comparison of agile and traditional project methods
SCRUM – just a trend or true added value?

The majority of companies working in multimedia today use agile project methods. But what sets the different approaches apart? What are the advantages and where are the hidden risks? Below is my personal interpretation.

What is the difference between agile and traditional project methods?

Traditional methods are characterized by the division of project steps into individual, self-contained stages. Only when one stage is complete do thoughts turn to the next one. In this process, however, software developers regularly come across issues and problems that can disrupt, delay or even obstruct a single project phase. This means that traditionally managed projects can very quickly get bogged down in micromanagement, in which the individual features of the software have the potential to turn political. Often, however, the true aim is forgotten: what does the software need to do? What benefits should users of this software have? How can the software support my processes in terms of saving costs and increasing sales? Traditional project methods are usually based around a central point: the customer's requirements. These ultimately define the financial and time-related resources. If the requirements should change during the course of the project, this directly affects the budget and timing and can have a negative impact on the whole project.
In contrast to traditional project methods based on the customer's list of requirements, SCRUM prioritizes the individual tasks according to the benefits for the customer and end user. The one thing that is fixed is the budget. Will the required feature increase my sales, reduce my costs and ultimately refinance my investment? Decisions are made from this perspective alone.

SCRUM in practice

With SCRUM, projects are no longer divided into fixed stages, but into short sections – called sprints – that are manageable and can be implemented efficiently. A new version of the software is developed within one to four weeks, and completed to the extent that it can be installed and used in operations. This iterative process enables errors in the project process to be identified, and the efficiency and effectiveness of the cooperation between everyone involved to be optimized. During a sprint, the team discusses the customer's requirements prioritized according to benefit, and defines the scope of the next sprint together. The team then works independently until the customer's approval is received. The customer's input and corrections are then incorporated in the next sprint. 

the various roles in SCRUM 

There are three roles in SCRUM: the Product Owner, the SCRUM Master and the Development Team.
Here's a summary:

Product Owner

The Product Owner updates the list of features and requirements and coordinates the project with the customer. He or she is responsible for ensuring that the list is always prioritized according to benefit and available as the basis for the next sprint. The Product Owner is the only one who can interrupt a sprint. This role involves communication skills, requirements development and project management. 

SCRUM Master

The SCRUM Master is the coach and driver of the SCRUM process. He or she checks that all meetings are held efficiently and helps the Development Team with any obstacles that jeopardize implementation. His or her aim is to improve and optimize the process. He or she systematically keeps disruptions away from the Development Team. 

Development Team

All members of the Development Team complete their tasks independently, taking personal responsibility. As with conventional project methods, tasks in SCRUM are also allocated according to personal skills. The software developer no longer receives delegated tasks but sets and is responsible for his or her own daily goals. In this way, the tasks are transparent for everyone, and he or she contributes to the team's success. The tasks are allocated during a daily SCRUM. Each software developer can review the previous day and any difficulties that occurred. He or she can also communicate the plan for the current day. The daily SCRUM is not an opportunity to discuss problems; instead, the members of the development teams share their experiences and information. If there is a need for discussion, this takes place under the leadership of the SCRUM Master outside the daily SCRUM. 

our conclusion

Agile methods constitute a paradigm shift: the budget defines the scope and time-based resources for the project. With SCRUM, the project is broken down into short sections rather than into large stages. However, this calls for new roles, skills, rules and processes. This method means that resources can be used sparingly, and employee satisfaction can also be greatly increased. 

You can find practical and personal tips for the successful roll-out of SCRUM here: SCRUM FILM.