What are the benefits and considerations when going down the Agile path?

According to a 2017 global survey by PMI, 71% of organisations report using agile approaches for their projects sometimes, often, or always.

At FITTS, we have run large and small projects using Agile, as well as more traditional project management methods. But what is Agile and is it the right fit for your project? This post offers points for consideration when beginning your next adventure to help decide if it is best for you.

Agile comes in many different flavours. For the purpose of this post, we’re focusing on the DSDM Agile Project Framework as it deals with the wider project rather than product development and delivery; as well as bringing more structure and scalability.


But first….a (very) short note on company culture

Understanding your current and possibly future target culture may go some way towards determining whether delivering your next project through Agile is right – are you working in an ‘agile’ way already, or considering adopting a more agile way of working? Agile is more than product development or project management, it demands a cultural attitude shift and broad stakeholder acceptance to truly realise its benefits. We hope to devote a full blog post to broader ‘Agile culture’ in the future, however, some of the Agile considerations below can be just as easily applied to wider company culture as it does to projects.

With that out of the way, let’s consider first some of the benefits Agile projects aim to deliver and then look at key considerations you need to make before taking the plunge.

The Benefits of Agile:

Focus on on-time, on-budget delivery

According to Standish Group’s 2018 Chaos Report (surveying project success), 36% of software projects completed on-time and on-budget and on target. Given these stark figures, Agile makes some serious promises.

Of the three main project constraints (time, cost, scope) Agile aims to put hard fixes on on-time, in-budget delivery. It achieves this through practical on-going prioritisation of requirements, iterative and incremental delivery and a focus on outcomes rather than activities. Proponents of Agile argue that this results in higher overall levels of quality.

Deliver quicker – by developing iteratively and deploying ASAP

Agile focuses on developing and deploying workable solutions through the course of the project and then building upon them further. This provides a much quicker useable solution compared with traditional delivery ( point in the project). This also enables opportunity for early real-life feedback from end-users.

It’s okay if you don’t know what the detail of the End Solution is

Agile allows for (and indeed relies upon) detail of the solution naturally emerging through development instead of relying on a full set of specifications up front, although this can be catered for. As detail emerges, further opportunities often surface which can be better exploited by a flexible Agile project compared with a more rigid traditional approach, which does not easily allow for specification change.

Responding to change and addressing issues upfront

Change is inevitable, be it evolving business needs or the impact of detail emerging though the project. Business stakeholders are highly encouraged to play an active role during solution development through requirements and solution reviews, validation and testing. This ensures project outcomes are constantly measured against their ability to meet the business needs; outcomes that fail to meet business needs are addressed in real-time and the risk of deploying an unfit solution is greatly reduced.

An emphasis on outcome-based-measurement

Success is measured by what is delivered rather than activities completed. Coupled with iterative and incremental delivery, this provides a clear indication to the business of what is being delivered and whether the project is ultimately on track.

Maintaining control

This is not so much a benefit specific to Agile, but it needs highlighting as Agile is often seen as lacking in control and  ‘too’ flexible in its approach. Agile methods such as DSDM counter this with an added emphasis on planning, building strong base foundations, focusing on real business need throughout and introducing control mechanisms through techniques, products and a highly defined team model.


Agile projects operate in a fundamentally different way to traditional project methodologies, whether it be the approach to scope, team responsibilities, deployment approaches or requirements for business involvement. It is important therefore, to consider some of the key Agile requirements to delivering successfully. How confident and comfortable you (and your business) are with embracing these will go a long way to determining success.

Project variables

With Agile, emphasis on hard commitments to budget and on-time delivery does require in-built flexibility with regards to scope delivered, be that regarding the building of a new product, or improving a core service. Coupled with properly considered requirements management (more on that below), it still delivers the most important elements of your specification but requires an open mind as to what is truly needed.

Embracing change

Detailed specifications of a solution can be developed up-front; however, it is important to accept change is inevitable, even against best laid plans. One of the benefits Agile brings is the focus on delivering only what is necessary to drive on-time delivery. Therefore, a balance needs to be found for doing the right amount work up front to drive rapid solution development, whilst responding to the detail that emerges further down the line. Requirements prioritisation and management help support and control this principle (see more below).

Agile demands – True business involvement

Every decision taken during a project should be viewed considering the overriding goal to deliver what the business needs, when it needs it. Considering that Agile develops and delivers incrementally; business needs can only be achieved with committed involvement in the day-to-day running of the project – addressing evolving needs, prioritising requirements, holding the project and development accountable throughout

Agile demands – Empowered teams and self-organisation

Given the inevitability of change on projects, it is vital that teams are empowered to make the right decisions to deliver on time. Depending on the culture of the organisation this can often be easier said than done and requires good project foundations to correctly define responsibilities, clarity of remit and transparency of decisions made throughout. Above all, trust in people and the project is vital for teams to truly feel empowered.

Agile demands – ongoing requirements prioritisation and management

A key concept followed on Agile projects is MoSCoW driven requirements management, which breaks down requirements into Must have, Should have, Could have and Won’t have (this time). This ensures the guaranteed delivery of most important requirements whilst providing contingency (Could haves) when the project hits a snag. Ongoing business review of these requirements ensures the right guidance for the project team as more detail emerges through the course of the project.


Agile makes big promises of on-time, on-budget delivery – given the stats around how many projects fail to deliver these, it makes it an attractive approach. No wonder many organisations using Agile approaches. But there are clear challenges needed to make it a success, which requires serious consideration before going down the Agile path.

If you’re pondering which route to go down or would like to discuss how we can support you with your next project, get in touch with us now.