An Olympic Solution to Project Management

Nov 19, 2018

As an eight-time Olympic gold medalist, Usain Bolt is deemed the fastest man in the world. His ability to get to the finish line before any other competitor is no secret. Enhanced agility allows him to turn over his legs at a faster rate, which makes him more adaptive and responsive to the starting gun.

How does Usain Bolt relate to project management? Agile project management, developed in the early 2000s as a formal proclamation of four key values and 12 principles to guide an iterative and people-centric approach to software development, sought to improve the speed and responsiveness of project management. Consumers want a finished product as quickly as possible and created with the highest level quality. Managers want a team to be responsive and flexible, to anticipate needed changes along the way. A company that works quickly, adapts to changes, and produces a quality product or outcome yields the best results.

Agile project management is established on a set of core values and principles. It is a style of building a data warehouse, business intelligence applications, and analytic applications that focus on the early and continuous delivery of business value. Like a race, the Agile methodology has multiple competitors; one of which is the waterfall or traditional method.



  • Predictive, sequential, and planning oriented
  • Adaptive and iterative
  • Less responsive to change
  • Continually responding to change
  • One large release to the client
  • Incremental releases to the client
  • Interaction with business users to gather requirements happens at an early phase and requirements cannot be easily incorporated in a later phase.
  • Interaction with business users, requirement updates, and frequent re-planning is a continuous process

Business Intelligence requirements, in general, and analytic requirements, in particular, are fuzzy and unclear. Often times, users are not specific about what they really want until they actually see what is in the realm of possibilities. Going through a very structured and extensive requirements, design, and implementation phase, like the Waterfall approach, seems a bit impractical when the minds of the users are not yet made up. Agile’s adaptive planning encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

Alternative approaches to Agile could be expensive. In the traditional sense, major changes can result in overhauls of planning, funding, and specifications that delay progress or even inflate costs. Change is an expected part of the Agile process. Requirements evolve as the product evolves. Since Agile development is iterative in nature, the following can also be said:

  • Features are delivered in increments
  • Constant testing and validation occur
  • Timely approvals are made
  • Revenue can be realized early
  • Allows for the continuation of project development


One of the key benefits of Agile development comes from integration of testing throughout the development cycle. Consistent and specific testing during all phases ensures that quality issues are more likely to be identified and allows time for corrections to be made. Meeting quality standards at each increment ensures that the finished product will meet the highest standards.

The way an athlete enhances their agility for peak performance pales in comparison to the ways the Agile Method can reform business practices.

The Agile Method:

  • improves collaboration and communication
  • embraces and adapts to change
  • values business and drives prioritization
  • develops and delivers work in increments
  • values introspection and continuous improvement
  • minimizes technical debt
  • puts people over processes
  • encourages self-organizing and cross-functional teams
  • fosters frequent collection and integration of feedback

Just as Usain Bolt enhances his agility in order to beat his competitors to the finish line, the Agile Method in project management can give your company the competitive edge it needs.