According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word “agile” means being able to move quickly and easily. However, in the case of Project Management (PM), the connotation is slightly different. Since you are reading this blog, it is convenient to assume that you are someone who manages projects, initiates projects, works on projects or perhaps is affected by the projects in some way or the other. Even if you are not, don’t worry, this blog will provide you with a decent idea of what Agile Project management is and how it functions in today’s world.
Agile Project Management, as you may know, is one of the most popular techniques of Project Management used by practitioners in the recent times. And in this dynamic technology-driven business environment, which displays internal and external unpredictability, most practitioners prefer Agile PM over the long-standing approach towards Project Management.
#But what exactly is Agile Project Management?
Well, for starters, it’s a form of project management technique that came into practice in the 90s as an approach for managing software development projects. Even though the “Waterfall” approach was the most popular way to deal with software development projects back then, it was soon replaced by the more effective approaches based on the agile techniques almost a decade ago.
One of the major reasons why Agile PM is preferred by a majority of project managers is because of the efficiency it offers. Unlike classic project management approaches, it delivers faster results while constantly improving crucial aspects such as product and processes of the project, team input and flexibility of the scope. In this dynamic environment where the threat of competition breathes down your neck all the time, it is crucial to produce faster results as a project manager, and the agile approach helps you do that effectively.
#How does Agile Project Management function?
The Agile approaches for project management are based on an Empirical Control method which lets the practitioners make their decisions based on the realities observed in a particular project. In software development projects, such Empirical approach not only helps the development of a new product, but also helps enhance and upgrade the previous projects.
In the agile environment, where the requirements for a project are changing at regular intervals, it becomes very important for the practitioners to empower themselves with agile approaches for project management. The Empirical control method lets you cope with the changing requirements and make immediate modifications to gain control of the outcome. That is one of the reasons why Project Managers on Software development projects prefer the Agile approach over the traditional one. Since the software industry witnesses rapid changes in the requirements of their on-going projects, the dynamic approach of Agile Project Management fits perfectly with the changing conditions.
Project management that follows Agile approach generally focuses on the people who are crucial for the project (usually the end-users), the product and flexibility. There are a number of agile methodologies, frameworks, techniques and tools that you, as a project manager may need to learn. However, a project manager needs to learn about the Agile Manifesto and the 12 Agile Principles to adopt the style in the first place.
#Popular Agile Methodologies
There are some frequently used methods such as Scrum, Kanban, and Lean while other agile methods include:
- Dynamic System Development Model, (DSDM)
- Extreme Programming (XP)
- Adaptive software development (ASD)
- Agile Unified Process (AUP)
- Crystal Clear methods
- Disciplined agile delivery
- Feature-driven development (FDD)
- RAD(Rapid Application Development)
#Agile Project Management and Scrum
Scrum is a powerful framework for implementing agile processes in software development and other projects. This highly adopted framework utilizes short iterations of work, called sprints, and daily meetings, called scrums, to tackle discrete portions of a project in succession until the project is complete. There are three key roles within Scrum – the Scrum master, product owner, and Scrum team members:
- The product owner creates and prioritizes a product backlog (work to be done).
- Teams select items from the backlog and determine how to complete the work.
- Work must be completed within a sprint (usually two to four weeks).
- The Scrum master meets with teams briefly each day to get progress updates.
- Sprint reviews are conducted at the end of each sprint.
- The process starts again until all work or backlog is complete.
#The Agile Manifesto
The Agile Manifesto was originally created for managing software development more rapidly according to the requirements. However, it has now transcended beyond software development and displayed its efficiency in other fields that aren’t computer based. Primarily, there are four values of the Agile Manifesto which was derived from the early experiences with the practice of Agile project management.
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Over the years, these values of Agile Manifesto have helped practitioners meet the changing requirements promptly. By putting these values into practice, you, as a project manager, can also manage your projects on software development more quickly and more efficiently. However, you need to learn about the following 12 Agile principles as well.
#12 Agile principles for Agile Project Management
These are 12 key principles that are still helpful for agile project management today.
- Customer satisfaction is always the highest priority and is achieved through rapid and continuous delivery.
- Changing environments are embraced at any stage of the process to provide the customer with a competitive advantage.
- A product or service is delivered with higher frequency.
- Stakeholders and developers collaborate closely daily.
- All stakeholders and team members remain motivated for optimal project outcomes, while teams are provided with all the necessary tools and support and are trusted to accomplish project goals.
- Face-to-face meetings are deemed the most efficient and effective format for project success.
- A final working product is the ultimate measure of success.
- Sustainable development is accomplished through agile processes whereby development teams and stakeholders can maintain a constant and ongoing pace.
- Agility is enhanced through a continuous focus on technical excellence and proper design.
- Simplicity is an essential element.
- Self-organizing teams are most likely to develop the best architectures and designs and to meet requirements.
- Regular intervals are used by teams to improve efficiency through fine-tuning behaviours.
The Agile principles focus primarily on the customer satisfaction, which plays a major role in the performance of a product. If you have worked on software development project before, you may realize how challenging it is to manage everything with a traditional approach. Well, Agile Project Management allows you to adapt to the changing requirements while formulating processes that aren’t just cost-effective, but also offer best-ROI (return on investment), even in this competitive market.