Benefits of Agile Project Management


Benefits of agile project management in a non-software development context – a literature review

By Tomas Gustavsson

Karlstad University



In the last fifteen years we have witnessed a vast spread of new methods for managing projects within software development. In 2001, the Agile Manifesto stated the common values and principles of these methods, all aimed at producing better software. Several of these values and principals are specifically expressed for designing and programming software products. Since then, the benefits of these methods have led to a widespread use of agile project management even in non-software development contexts. But, how does these values and principals affect projects in non-software areas since some values and principals are not applicable? Do they perceive the same benefits? This paper presents a systematic literature review aimed at identifying benefits in projects adopting agile methods in non-software development contexts. Out of the 21 case studies analysed, most reported projects were from manufacturing companies but even from areas such as library management and strategy management. The most frequently reported benefits were related to team work, customer interaction, productivity and flexibility. The main parts of the benefits were corresponding to the first value in the Agile Manifesto: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

Key words: Agile project management, Scrum.

JEL code: M10 – Business Administration: General


The methods originating in the nineties such as Scrum (Schwaber & Beedle, 2001; Schwaber, 2004) or eXtreme programming, XP, (Beck 1999) has now become famous under the term “agile project management” or “agile methods”. Today, most of the agile methods have been used in the IT industry for projects within software development (Mafakheri et al. 2008; Sheffield & Lemétayer, 2013). But although originating in the IT industry, agile project management is now moving into other businesses. Methods spreading from one context to another are nothing new. For example, Toyota Production System (TPS), originally used for car manufacturing, later became famous under the name Lean and has now moved into all kinds of industries such as healthcare (Kim et al. 2006).

Although there is extensive evidence of agile project management used in software development, there is a lack of empirical studies in other types of industries and projects. In an article by Pope-Ruark (2015, page 116) she states that “agile is not only popular in software development; a quick Google search reveals its reach in design, marketing, publishing, energy management, financial services, and civil and mechanical engineering, to name a few.” That can be found by executing a Google search, but what about published articles describing actual case studies of organizations that are not within software development? This literature review is an attempt to map articles showing case studies of agile project management used in other contexts than software development.

The main research question (MRQ) for the systematic literature review is: What are the experiences from using agile project management in a non-software development context? In order to answer the MRQ and evaluate the results, the question has been divided into the following two specific research questions (SRQ):

SRQ1: What benefits are experienced from using agile project management in non-software development contexts?

SRQ2: What challenges are experienced from using agile project management in non-software development contexts?


To read entire paper, click here


Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 5th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2016. It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.


About the Author

Tomas Gustavsson

Karlstad, Sweden



Tomas Gustavsson
is a university lecturer at Karlstad University and a consultant within project management, IT and leadership issues. Starting out as a software programmer in 1996, he was offered a job as an IT project manager after only one year in the industry. Since then, project management has always been in focus in Tomas’ career. In 2002, he heard of something called “agile ways of working” which contained smart tools and efficient methods that he whole-heartedly embraced.

Tomas has written several books in Swedish such as the book “Agile – konsten att slutföra projekt” (Agile – the art of completing projects) which in 2008 won the Project management book of the year award awarded by the Swedish IPMA-branch.

Tomas has published articles describing the use of agile methods in other contexts than IT, such as event projects and hardware product development. He can be contacted at   [email protected]


  • Agil projektledning Övningsbok (2014), published by Bonnier Utbildning/Sanoma Utbildning
  • Agil projektledning (2011), published by Bonnier Utbildning/Sanoma Utbildning
  • Agile – konsten att slutföra projekt (2007-06-30), published by TUK Förlag
  • Ledarskapsdagbok – boken för din utveckling (2006), published by TUK Förlag

Articles and papers

Gustavsson, T. (2016). Benefits of Agile Project Management in a Non-Software Development Context – a literature review. Presented at the 5th International Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic Countries in Riga.

Gustavsson, T. & Rönnlund, P. (2013). Agile adoption at Ericsson Hardware Product Development. Presented at the NFF Conference 2013 in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Gustavsson, T., Rönnlund, P. (2010). Agile project management in public events. Presented at the IPMA2010 World Congress in Istanbul.