Risks of cyclical project management

Cyclical methods of project management sometimes allow insufficient time to implement the desired functionalities. Because the amount of time is pre-determined, fewer functionalities will probably be made than were originally assumed.

This is indeed a real risk, but it is also inherent in the waterfall method. In the waterfall method, the definition phase includes an extensive analysis of requirements. This analysis could be expected to generate better time planning. This is often not the case in practice, however, for the reasons that are mentioned above. Functionalities are left out in this method as well, as there is not enough money to implement them.

In cyclical methods, requirements are handled pragmatically. For example, the requirements in cycles can be divided according to the MoSCoW rules (Stapleton, 2003):

Must Have: requirements that are essential for the system
Should Have: important requirements that people really want
Could Have: requirements that are desirable, but which can be easily omitted
Want to Have: but will not have this time round: requirements that can wait until later
Regardless of the fact that there may be no more time for particular functionalities, the DANS project managers agree that cyclical work yields more customer satisfaction than the waterfall method does. At any rate, the expectations are consistently better managed, and the projects deliver results that actually work, even if they are less elaborate than originally hoped.

One frequently mentioned disadvantage of XP is that considerable power comes to rest with the programmers. If they misuse this power, they can hide behind the customers lack of technical knowledge. Preventing this situation requires a project leader who can serve the interests of both the programmers and the customer. Such project leaders assist their customers in choosing and planning the cycles, making the technical background of choices intelligible and providing for administration and reporting.

Finally, another disadvantage of XP is that there is a steep learning curve for programmers, managers and customers with regard to the introduction of the method.