Challenges of Transitioning from Traditional Project Management to Agile

Over the past decade, technology has been growing at a rapid and innovative pace within the business world. With this in mind, companies have been trying to put out releases with new features of their products as fast and efficiently as possible in order to stay competitive within this market, which, in turn, encouraged companies to transition into utilizing Agile project management. Similarly with any transition within the company, transitioning from traditional or waterfall project management to Agile will be a learning curve that will result in some challenges.

Whether your company is currently in the transition period between traditional project management and Agile or if your company is proposing to make the transition, we want to help you get better prepared in making your transition smooth and efficient by providing expert knowledge on the challenges of this transition.

From our experience with companies transitioning from traditional project management to Agile, here are five common challenges that were identified:

  • Resisting to change and adaptation
    • Not all team members are open to change, especially in the case of being comfortable with how the current processes are. If the current processes work well, why change? In order to stay competitive within the market, it is important to find ways to provide quality product releases in the fastest, most efficient way possible. Whether it is changing a process or revamping a product, it is important for you and your team to stay open-minded for change. 
  • Insufficient training
    • To acclimate their team members with Agile project management, companies typically enroll their team members in Agile-certified classroom courses. However, some companies think that attending the courses is sufficient enough for the team to understand how to implement Agile methodology within their projects. This is not true. In order to provide proper experience and comfort with Agile methodology, it is important for companies to engage their employees in additional workshops, practices, and trainings. Hands-on practical experience is more effective compared to just attending classroom lectures.
  • Inexperienced Scrum Masters
    • In order to prevent significant changes in resource allocations, most companies put their project managers in training to become a Scrum Master instead. According to The Scrum Guide, the Scrum Master should be the subject matter expert and team coach for all things Scrum. If the Scrum Master has as little experience as their team, however, it could pose issues in implementing Scrum since everyone is new to the methodology. The Scrum Master may not be knowledgeable enough to determine if there are gaps or issues in the team’s actions towards the Agile processes.
  • Communication issues
    • Compared to traditional project management, Agile project management provides more structured communication with their sprint events, which include  sprint planning, daily standups, sprint review and demo, and sprint retrospective. In addition, Agile teams typically use software, such as JIRA, Azure DevOps, and Confluence to gather their project information, such as release plans and backlogs. With the transition into the new communication structure and software use, communication issues may occur since the team’s usual methods of communication may not be feasible within an Agile environment.  
  • Lack of customer involvement
    • In order to provide better customer satisfaction, Agile encourages more frequent customer involvement in identifying the requirements and priorities that the team will focus on. Since this will be a significant change in communication frequency between the customer and the project team, the customer may not be receptive to the change due to their expected increased involvement. This could cause possible decision delays and dissatisfaction if the customer is not as frequently involved as they should be.

In order to prevent and alleviate these challenges, gradually empowering and educating the company on Agile processes will allow them to have time to get more comfortable with the change. Encouraging feedback on the processes and engaging your team in retrospectives will provide an understanding of the team’s comfort with the methodology. In addition, promoting the perspective of innovation within the company culture will encourage open-mindedness and teamwork towards company growth and market competitiveness.