The answer for this question is not one or the other. The Project Management approach selected will depend on the wide range of functionalities that the Project will be required to deliver.

For instance, a software application or a consulting project can have a very wide range of functional deliverables. But on the other hand, if we are dealing with a project for building a bridge, in this case there is only a single purpose or functionality (joining two points). 

The final porpose of a project provider is to get paid for the project. In order to get paid for the project it is needed to have reached the project closure. For reaching the project closure it is necesary to get acceptance of the project (that is, getting acceptance of all the deliverables agreed by both parties). To get project acceptance it is a requirement to meet customer satisfaction. And finally for meeting satisfaction it is necesary to reach customer’s expectations. So the key question here is, do we manage better expectations with Agile or with a Structured framework?

Structured (also known as ‘waterfall’) Frameworks are based on a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure); that is, we agree in the Planning Phase to all deliverables we will develop/build in the project.

On the other hand in an Agile approach, the Scope will be defined ‘on the go’. So, one can conclude that it seems less risky having a predefined and agreed Scope before starting execution, but this can not be seen as a general rule, because also satisfaction will depend on the Authority of the users. If the users that provide us the requirements are also allowed to give acceptance of the project, an Agile approach could be very good to meet customer Expectations. But if users are not in a customer role, but instead in an intermediary role, at the end of the project we could have an ‘expectation issue’ with the customer (project sponsor) that gave the green light to the project to achieve some project objectives/goals that only he knows (because never were formally documented on a Project Scope Plan).

So we can conclude that we need to critically analyse the several dimensions of a project (as we have discussed about two: wide functional deliverables and customer/user’s relationship) before making a decision on what Project Management approach to use in each project.

What’s your opinion about the pros and cons on Structured PM vs Agile?. Please, share your comments! 🙂