Adopting agile practices and techniques

in complex traditional engineering project management environment



By Dr Lalamani Budeli

South Africa




In recent years, the use of agile practices, tools and techniques has gained momentum, especially in engineering and software projects. Regardless of industry, project management has proven to be a crucial element of a company’s efficiency and its eventual success. Agile methodologies take an iterative approach to project development. On the other hand, systems engineering ensures the effective development and delivery of capabilities by using a set of consistent analytic, disciplined, integrated, and technical management processes throughout the program lifecycle while touching many of the other processes across acquisition lifecycle describing the application of agile principles to some systems engineering processes.

Agile system engineering is based on an incremental, iterative approach. Instead of in-depth planning at the beginning of the project, Agile methodologies are open to changing requirements over time and encourages constant feedback from the end-users. The goal of each iteration is to produce a working product. The overall goal of system engineering is to develop and design a system that meets a specific set of requirements (needs) in the guidelines established by the project or program manager (PM).

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how adopting agile practices and techniques in a traditional engineering project management environment can assist companies to improve project requirements management to improve overall project benefits.

Keywords: Agile practices, traditional engineering project, benefits management


In a traditional engineering environment, sequential procedures are used in various tasks involved in the concept, design and manufacturing of products performed in a defined and conventional order. These processes possess flexibility which leads to drawbacks resulting in severe alterations in the later stages of a project or product development life cycle. The new field of concurrent engineering focuses on working interactively between the various processes in the development. Concurrent engineering concept is that the entire product life cycle needs to be taken into consideration in the initial stage of the cycle and flexibility is of immense importance to the success of the process given the fact that it allows for error correction and redesigns to be incorporated in the early design phase without harming the costs, efforts and timelines of the project.

Agile project management is an iterative approach to delivering a project throughout its life cycle which is composed of several iterations or incremental steps towards the completion of a project. The main aim of the agile (iterative approach) is to release benefits throughout the process rather than only at the end of the project. Agile projects display central values and behaviors of flexibility, trust, collaboration and empowerment.

Research hypothesis

The following are research hypotheses:

  1. Applying agile practices in traditional engineering projects will improve project and product benefit management.
  2. Project agile method application in traditional engineering projects will improve project flexibility and decision marking while ensuring that the customer is fully satisfied with the deliverables (Products).


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How to cite this paper: Budeli, L. (2020). Adopting agile practices and techniques in complex traditional engineering project management environment, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue XI, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pmwj99-Nov2020-Budeli-Adapting-agile-in-traditional-engineering-pm-environment.pdf



About the Author

Dr Lalamani Budeli

South Africa


Dr Lalamani Budeli obtained his degree in Electrical Engineering at the Vaal University (VUT), BSc honors in Engineering Technology Management at University of Pretoria (UP), Master in engineering development and Management at North West University (NWU), Master of business administration at Regent Business School (RBS) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Development and Management at North West University (NWU), Potchefstroom, South Africa. Currently, he is a managing director of BLIT, an engineering, research, and project management company based in South Africa.

His research interests include project portfolio management, agile project management, plant life cycle management, advanced systems analytics, project early warning system, and the use of artificial intelligence in project management. Currently, he is spending most of the time on research that is looking at the development of system and application that uses the latest technology like block chain, internet of things (IoT), Big data, and artificial intelligence. Lalamani Budeli can be contacted at budelil@blit.co.za.