Agile Project Management – Why all the Fuss?

Agile Project Management – Why all the Fuss?

Agile project management is one of the hottest topics in the project management professional field and technology industries. 

It is planned that Agile will permeate many sections of the next edition of PMI’s Guide to the Project Management  Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The implications and potential impact of this are significant.

Is this a good idea? Are the interest in and applicability of Agile as widespread as it is made out to be?

A Devil’s Advocate

Playing devil’s advocate, I wonder if the PM professional world, academic researchers, organizations and many in the field of project management are getting carried away with the “Agile” concept? Is it as widely applicable or used as implied in the many articles and papers on the topic?

How important is the move towards Agile, and in how many organizations and industries does it really apply? Why are those who do not use Agile so silent on this topic?

A recent paper, by Salum, Amaral, da Silva and Almeida, asks “Can agile project management be adopted by industries other than software development”.

While Agile concepts appear to be used almost exclusively for new product development, primarily for the development of software based products or systems, it also seems to also be migrating to use for innovation in other industries.

How Applicable is Agile?

How applicable is it, for projects where most products are procured? For example, how can Agile be applied on construction projects?

For any project involving physical facilities, products or systems, especially any with safety implications, it would seem that waterfall planning, design and implementation models must be required. 

For projects such as a massive refinery, transportation system, or hospital iterative Agile methods would not seem practical or would be useful only in limited tasks. Also, for larger projects, documentation is very important. Both formality and documentation seem anathema to Agile.

Looking across sectors such as Construction, Government Expenditure, Health & Medical, Infrastructure, Mining & Petroleum one wonders how many of these types projects would apply Agile methods?

If these and other industries where traditional projects and waterfall-based project management represent such an enormous portion of the global economy, why is Agile commanding so much attention?

Yes, technology and software are critical to business and modern economies. And yes, technology companies spend a lot of money on projects.

But... perhaps more focus should be placed on organizations and leaders struggling with projects in the waterfall world. In my opinion, that is where the need is still greatest.”


This blog is an edited version of "A Devil’s Advocate: Agile from a distance, the big waterfall world,  Vol. VI, Issue IV–April 2017",  by David Pells, Managing editor of


About David Pells

President, PM World Inc., Managing Director, PM World Library
Fellow, PMI; Fellow (Hon), APM, PMA, SOVNET.

David L. Pells is an internationally recognized leader in the field of professional project management and acts in advisory roles for several global programs and organizations.

His professional experience includes a wide variety of programs and projects, including engineering, construction, defense, transit and high technology, and project sizes ranging from several thousand to ten billion dollars. He is a member of the Global Advisory Board for the Institute of Project Management.

He served on the board of directors of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) twice, and was awarded PMI’s Person of the Year award in 1998 and Fellow Award in 1999


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