When it comes down to managing your workforce, there are multiple theories about project management to choose from. However, as you begin your research into which theory fits right for you and your business, you will probably see one particular word that shows up every now and then – Agile.
Many companies are now talking about the need to be more agile. The pace of change is not only moving fast. Instead, it’s accelerating. Companies must turn to agile to keep up with the fast-changing needs of customers who expect products and services that meet their specific requirements.
Agile project management focuses on executing a plan by breaking it down into smaller and easier-to-manage deliverable outcomes. While the methodology isn’t always successful beyond the software, the principles behind the approach help ensure that a proposed plan can adapt to any changes, as per the requirement. It allows for a continuous improvement phase toward the final product.
It’s safe to say that there is a lot of noise about the benefits of agile project management. However, what exactly is it? And how do you know if it is a good fit for your team management?
What is agile project management?
Agile project management is an analytical approach to software development projects. It ensures feedback can be adapted quickly and that responsive changes can be conveniently made at each stage, product cycle, or sprint.
Agile project management divides large-scale projects into several other phases, known as iterations or sprints. In its effect, tasks are accomplished in short stages throughout the project’s lifecycle. Teams can shift to this methodology to work quickly and collaboratively within the timeframe and budget of a project. Agile project management covers all the different project management methodologies, all of which are easily shared on agile principles and core values.
Agile project management methodologies were developed with software in mind. However, the core agile values and agile project management principles are useful to multiple different types of teams, from product teams to marketing teams.
Based on the definition, agile project management is a collaborative, iterative project management approach that incorporates continuous testing and responsiveness to change.
Who uses Agile Project Management?
Originally created for software development, the Agile Project Managers’ Guide to project completion is quickly being adopted by more than just the IT teams. Most industries are also looking at agile methodology, including marketers, military, universities, etc., to deliver innovative products in uncertain environments.
In the software world, whenever a decision to build or further develop an existing technology is made up, the end product is always hard to define. Agile allows for that ambiguity because of its flexibility to change direction on a project as work moves into the future.
4 Core Values of Agile
The agile manifesto outlines the 4 core values and 12 guiding principles, which serve as the X factor for any team adopting the agile methodology.
The 4 Core Values of Agile are,
1. Working software over a comprehensive documentation
Just as important as the documentation is, the working software is more essential. The value is all about giving the developers just what they need to run the job without overloading the team with more work.
2. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Just as modern and advanced as technology gets, the human element will always serve an essential role in any project management. Depending too heavily upon the processes and tools results in the inability to adapt to the changing circumstances.
3. Responding to change by following a plan
Agile allows for continuous change throughout the life of any given project. Each sprint provides an equal opportunity for a course and review correction. This value is one of the biggest departures from traditional project management. Earlier in the day, change was seen as an expense and something to be avoided.
4. Easy customer collaboration over the contract negotiation
Your customer’s one of the most powerful assets you will ever know. Whether they are internal or external customers, making them a part of the plan throughout the process can help to ensure that the end product meets their needs more effectively.
What are the benefits of agile project management?
Agile project management can seem like it is just another trendy project management methodology. However, it has proven to be more than just a flash in the pan.
Here are some of the most commonly reported benefits of agile project management.
1. More adaptability and less rick
One of the top benefits of agile methods is the ability to manage changing priorities. With agile’s iterative approach and emphasis on continuous feedback, you can get the data you need during the development process and not after, allowing the team to make more impactful choices based on the actual condition and not just the predicted conditions.
Along with the designated short sprint cycles, clearer project visibility, and regular reporting updates, teams can easily improve predictability and reduce risk.
2. Better Control
Agile allows managers to have better control over the project due to its transparency, quality control features, feedback integrations, etc. Quality is ensured throughout the project’s implementation phase, and all these stakeholders are involved in the process with daily progress reports through advanced reporting tools and techniques.
3. Enhanced flexibility
Whenever Agile is genuinely implemented in a project team, it helps to empower them with enhanced flexibility. Teams always work in smaller bursts, and they are supplemented by constant feedback as well as the involvement of the product owner. Changes in any other project management methodologies are usually time-consuming and quite costly.
However, Agile divides the project into short sprints that are manageable and flexible enough to allow the team to implement changes over short notice. The unmatched flexibility is one of the top reasons dynamic organizations prefer to use Agile in their project.
4. More relevant metrics
The metrics used by agile teams in estimating time and cost and measuring project performance are much more relevant and accurate than the ones used in traditional methodologies. Agile focuses on producing the results and optimizing the performance, while the metrics show how closely the project is tracking against the estimated cost and time.
Agile produces important metrics like cycle time and lead time, and throughout that, it helps to measure the team’s performance, make data-driven decisions and identify bottlenecks and correct them. The agile framework helps team members, managers, and clients.
5. Improved team morale
Agile teams are always self-managing and self-organized. They have enhanced the autonomy and authority over their decisions. The project managers must protect the team from interference from sponsors and management.
Since the team size is limited, Agile provides an environment where teams are close-knit and can have flexible team structures. The team gets together frequently to discuss challenges and statuses, letting them collaborate better. The cross-functional nature of the teams also helps the members learn new project management skills and grow in their current roles.
6. Increased customer satisfaction
In Agile workflow, the customer is always involved in the decision-making process, leading to greater customer retention. Customers are more involved in the planning phase and do not influence execution which affects flexibility and adaptability. Once you keep customers in the loop and make changes as per their feedback, you deliver value to the customers and ensure that the final product is truly according to their requirements.
Another benefit of agile project management is the go-to-market gets majorly reduced. This allows the product owner to capitalize on the opportunities and enjoy the first mover advantage.
Key components of Agile project management
Sprints are short iterations, with usually 1-3 weeks to complete, where teams are determined in the sprint planning meeting. As you move ahead, the idea is to continuously repeat these sprints until your product is future-ready. Once the sprint is over, you review the product and check what is working and what is not working. Simply make adjustments and begin another sprint to improve the product or the service.
2. Agile Board
Find the best Kanban tools here:
Managing your backlog is vital for project managers in an agile environment. As the project requests are always added through your intake system, they become outstanding stories in the backlog. During Agile planning sessions, your team will estimate the story points for each task. During the sprint planning, the stories in the backlog are moved into a sprint to be completed during the iteration.
4. Stand-up meetings
Daily stand-up meetings within 10 minutes, also known as the daily Scrum meetings, are a great way to ensure that everyone is on track and remains informed. These daily interactions are known as stand-up because the participants are required to stay standing, helping to keep meetings short and to the point.
How to become agile?
Higher-quality outputs, more satisfied customers and users, and team morale can sound too good to be true. However, it’s completely achievable.
If you are wondering how to become agile, here is what you need to do!
- Get the right people on board – Agile project management methodologies always rely on hiring the right people on board and empowering them to do the best work. It is even outlined in the agile core value, people over processes.
- Get a certification – There is a common misconception that agile is anything that goes free for all. However, that is not the case. Agile is not the absence of methodology. It is a type of framework in itself.
- Use the right project management tools – You must find a tool that supports your way of working rather than just dictating it out. nTask has everything that you are looking for and needs to give to your team, namely, the visibility, flexibility, and collaboration they need to keep the work moving forward. Regardless of whether you are looking for Scrum or Kanban boards – and when it is the time to scale, it can scale right along with you.
Get Started With Agile Project Management Now
These are some of the most basic essential parts of an agile project manager’s guide to successful project completion. As your team transits to agile methodology, software, and tools, they will help you to change your mindset and begin working together to be more flexible and adapt to changes as they come.
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