As regular readers of Software Project Management probably know I don’t evangelize any specific project management or software development methodology. Depending on a project, its size, external constraints and business environment the best choice can differ from very flexible approach to formalized heavy-weight methodology. Or maybe no methodology at all.
No? Not at all? Am I crazy? Well, when I’ve checked last time I was still sane.
Every process you formalize, and agile methods are formal too, brings some additional hassle which you need to deal with. Nothing comes for free. You get better control over process and raise your chances of delivering on time something your customer expects, but your team spends time on meetings, documentations, analysis, requirements, you-name-it.
Are there projects which can do without any formalized project management? There sure are. Talking about software the only part which can’t be cut out is development. Project management isn’t on the list. Heck, you can produce a piece of software even without designing and testing.
OK, what kind of projects am I talking about? Most of tiny-sized projects. At least these which aren’t mission critical applications. If you have a single or a couple of developers you don’t need much formalism to organize their work. It’s much better idea to let them code for as much time as possible. If you don’t have formalized organization as a client you won’t have an external driver to bring a formal process either.
Another group which doesn’t need any project management methodology is a big part of R&D projects. It’s like focusing on a journey not on a destination. There’s no deadline written in the stone. There’s no list of requirements to meet. There’s no impatient client over your head. When a group isn’t very big you don’t even need to organize their work in any way. Famous Google 20% projects aren’t managed by project managers and that doesn’t make them unsuccessful.
Sometimes we tend to think project management is indispensable in every project, but the truth is a bit different.