In just the last few years, the IT sector has experienced a massive software and cloud transformation in the way projects are handled and measured. With the pace at which technology is moving, many organisations are finding they need working prototypes quicker, along with better feedback systems to ensure the end product has a successful launch.
Agile project management has become an increasingly popular way for project managers, IT professionals and teams to create products based on ongoing feedback during the development cycle. In this blog, we’ll go over the process of agile project management and its principles so you can decide if this system is something you can implement in your team.
Introduction to Agile Project Management
Whether you work in a small or large organisation, you have likely come across situations where one project or task seems to take a much longer time to complete.
This is especially true if you are working on a complicated task across multiple teams. Not only do you need to account for many different personalities and opinions within each team, but you often need to defer to a few key decision-makers to advance the project. It goes without saying—this can take up a lot of time.
Agile project management follows an iterative approach to planning project processes. It breaks down a project into small sections called iterations or sprints. Once a sprint is complete, the team—along with other key stakeholders—review and critique the progress made. From this feedback, the insights gained are used to decide on the next steps. The goal is a successful end product that meets the needs of the customer. The ability to produce an initial minimum viable product and improve it with sprints is one reason why many teams use agile project management.
Agile vs Traditional Methodology
The traditional method of project management known as the “waterfall method” follows a more sequential approach where a project starts on a strict timeline. Resources are gathered, budgets are created and teams are allocated to the project. Testing is completed at the end for feedback and then the product is released after all the work is done.
In traditional project management, the project manager is responsible for the budget, personnel and other key elements of the project. But in agile project management, the project manager’s responsibilities are distributed among all members of the team.
With agile, functionality is also delivered incrementally throughout the development cycle. In this way, agile offers more flexibility, ownership, transparency and decision-making authority than traditional project management.
In the current, fast-paced development environment, many managers find the traditional method frustrating and inefficient. It can lead to resentment across teams and most critically, a subpar product or service. The effects of this dysfunction can reach the end customer or client, which spells disaster for an organisation that has invested time and resources only to release a failed product.
By incorporating a more agile approach, you can deliver better, faster and higher quality products or services to your customers.
The Principles of Agile Project Management
There are several key principles inherent in agile project management. Here is a brief outline of these principles based on the famous manifesto that introduced this style of management:
The end goal is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of your product or service
There is a preference for several shorter timelines
Team members must work closely throughout the project
It is critical to building projects around motivated individuals
Face-to-face communication is the most effective way to communicate information
The final product is the primary measure of progress
All stakeholders should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely
The team can enhance agility by focusing on technical excellence and good design
Simplicity is essential
The best architectures, requirements and designs emerge from self-sufficient teams
At regular intervals, the team must reflect on how to become more productive. From there, the team adjusts its behaviour accordingly
Who Should Use Agile Project Management?
Agile project management can be beneficial for organisations of all shapes and sizes -- especially for teams who need to meet customer requirements Whether you’re shipping code or developing a physical product, everyone from an entry-level employee to the CEO can leverage the agile project management methodology to become more efficient.
But the main benefits of agile project management can be felt most during the testing and development phase. Employees and managers can receive feedback in real-time on what is and what isn’t working. With this feedback, employees and managers can quickly iterate and change direction completely if they need to. While they may not be heading in the direction that they initially anticipated, this real-time feedback is extremely valuable and can help teams avoid costly errors in the future.
Agile project management can also deliver value more quickly than the traditional model of project management. Rather than spending months developing a product or service and releasing it to the sound of crickets, agile projects help teams develop products or services that the market actually wants. This avoids wasted time, money and a lot of frustration.
Functionality is implemented quickly – Agile teams work together towards a common goal and can quickly implement a working prototype for feedback.
Testing throughout the development cycle – Testing is crucial before any release, and with agile project management methodology, this testing is ongoing. This means the final product has gone through multiple evolutions and is optimal before launch.
Fewer risks of failure – Agile projects rarely experience absolute failure because there is always a functional product that can be tweaked in accordance with customer feedback.
What is Your Experience with Agile Project Management?
Releasing new products to the public has been made easier with the process of agile project management. But as with any change, you may experience resistance to agile methodologies from some of your team members.
Agile project management can be of incredible value to your organisation, but it’s not always easy to convince your team to adopt an entirely new process that may be at odds with what they know and how they work. By achieving buy-in from all members of your organisation and staying tough through growing pains, you can find a way to make agile work for you, your teams and your organisation.
Interested in learning more about agile? Access our eBook on project management approaches and methodologies.
Lumify Work offers project management training including courses in agile to help get you up to speed on the latest management best practices. Not just looking to be agile on particular projects but as an organisation as a whole? Take a look at our AgileSHIFT® course and certification.