Even though the concept of agile project management is usually associated with software development projects, it offers the same value when managing non-software projects.
The amazing thing about agile project management is that while it drives governance and discipline in every phase of the project it can easily handle changes along the way.
Agile project management addresses a big challenge for project managers in finding the right balance of discipline without choking creativity and innovation.
What is Agile?
The word is short for “Agile project management“, agile was specifically developed as a step-by-step approach for software delivery. Thus, agile project management encourages iterative development instead of the classic waterfall approach of all or nothing. Agile projects are divided into user stories which deliver distinct pieces of the user functionality and are prioritized and then delivered in iterations.
When working on a project, the best way to ensure that you reach the desired goal is to divide the project into manageable chunks of tasks, create a checklist /success criteria/ acceptance criteria or even a subset of to-do list that defines the completion of the task. Assign the task to the right resources and then monitor the progress through appropriate reporting, team collaboration and communication throughout the process through formal reviews/meetings and/or real-time feedback on the task. By breaking up all your Goals/Projects into tasks you are better able to prioritize and manage the project resources more effectively. When done right, these simple steps can result in successful and cost-effective projects with little or no rework.
One of the essential elements of agile projects is the collaboration among team members on a continual basis not limited to the project’s early brainstorming phases. It is imperative that project resources are able to communicate their concerns, issues, and ideas to the project manager and other related resources in time. Effective and timely communication not only reduces rework but fosters inclusive behaviors resulting in the creative solutions, above all successful projects.
When you have found the right recipe, the right process, the right set of tasks for running your oft-repeated projects, then template it. Templates promote standards across the organization, reduce errors and takes the guesswork out of process/projects that are repeated. Consistency promotes efficiency.
No project is without risk. Not to say that risk cannot be managed, all it takes is understanding your risks and planning around them. Even though every project can have its unique challenges and risks, a few are common across most projects and can be mitigated upfront.
- Resource utilization: Resources are probably the most expensive item in your project bill, their effective utilization is imperative to the success. Ensure you have a way to assign tasks to individual resources or sub-teams as required and then not only be able to monitor their progress but also be part of the Feedback / Input loop and catch any concerns or issues and take timely action.
- Time Recording: Understanding of your project burn rates is crucial, a time recording, submission, approval capability is key to keeping the project books current and your team happy.
- Meetings: A point always overlooked and later regretted, minute all your project meetings, not everyone has super memory:)
- Work Smart: Don’t be a slave to your calendar and task lists, let the software work for you through automated reminders and alerts, freeing you to focus on more productive stuff.
A software that can help in promoting individual accountability, team interaction, encourage review and feedback, helps template repetitive tasks/projects, provides timely reporting, alerts, and reminders can be key to you keeping your sanity:)
Good luck in your next project, may the force be with you………..