What exactly Agile project management is?
Agile project management is managing projects with an iterative approach. It means creating only short term plans. In a certain iteration, there are concrete goals which are expected to be reached and products that are expected to be launched. It is possible to plan the next iteration depending on the results of the previous iteration.
This kind of project management resigns from large projects. Instead, it focuses on more manageable, small tasks. Such a solution improves the work. Agile teams are able to finish their work fast even if demands change. They can easily optimise their workflow.
The difference between Agile and Cascade
A distinction should be drawn between Agile project management methods and Cascade project management methods. Cascade focuses on delivering a prepared plan, while in Agile, changes are natural elements of delivery of the product.
With Agile project management, the team members are competent and motivated to create a product. There is a special term for this – empowered team – a team of people willing to act, who are also great decision makers. They do their best to increase market value. Development team works much more sustainably and efficiently thanks to Agile.
The team consists of The Scrum Master (who is the team’s advocate and oversees the development process), the project owner (who defines the goals of each sprint), stakeholders and the rest of the team.
What kind of people use Agile project management?
It’s not a secret that Agile was originally created for software development projects. People working in IT use it on a day-to-day basis. But that’s not all! Marketing specialists, the military, universities and colleges, automotive industry – they all take advantage of Agile methodology.
Marketers, universities, automotive industry…
They do it in order to deliver new, unusual products to uncertain environments. There are lots of organisations that can benefit from Agile, especially the ones with small teams. Setup and usage are quite simple.
The software development world needs Agile because it’s flexible, and by the flexibility we mean the possibility of changing direction on a project. It is often useful in situations when the work extends. Software teams embrace Agile project management methodologies so that the speed of their development increases.
Workplaces which are into Agile, can use Agile software, Agile books and Agile coaches. Remember that there are no two identical teams – each team is unique and one-of-a-kind. That’s why each team should know the basics to make the most of Agile methodology to suit their needs best.
What values Agile is based on?
The Agile Manifesto is a document which determines the principles behind Agile and its philosophy. According to the Agile Manifesto, there are four core values of Agile. It’s worth knowing them all!
Individuals > tools and processes
The first value is that people are more important than tools. We all know that technologies can make life easier. We also know that technologies become more and more sophisticated. However, we cannot only rely on them. The human factor is a key, no matter what projects we work on. If we rely only on technologies, fancy tools etc. there is a risk that we will not be able to adapt to changing circumstances.
Working software > documentation
The second value applies to the documentation. It is important, but there is something equally or even more important – working software. The heart of this value is providing the developers with what they most need at a given stage of the process. Thanks to that, developers are able to finish their tasks and, at the same time, they are not overloaded.
Involving customers in the process
Customers are important. Each of them is a powerful asset. There is a big potential in involving all the customers – internal and external – throughout the process. Thanks to that, they will be sure that the end product serves their needs as effectively as possible.
The biggest difference between traditional project management methodologies and Agile project management methodologies is well illustrated in the value number four, which is responding to change. Traditionally, we associate a change with expenses. Change was always something that people were trying to avoid. And then, Agile methodology appeared. According to Agile, a change is no longer perceived as bad – quite the contrary. Agile project management allows for continuous improvement over the entire duration of the process.
The twelve principles of Agile – what are they?
Teams using Agile are different and unique but the main principles of Agile are always the same.
- Satisfying the customer is always crucial. It is possible thanks to the delivery of valuable software. The delivery should be continuous.
- Changing requirements? There’s no problem with it. Even at the late stage of development. If it helps customers gain a competitive edge, it is worth doing.
- The projects should be delivered frequently in short timescales.
- People who work in the same team on the same project must work together, each day during the project.
- Good working conditions should be ensured for individuals working on the project. People have to be motivated to work. They need support sometimes. They need to feel that they are trustworthy. With good motivation, they will get the job done.
- If you want to convey information, you should bet on face-to-face conversation. Talk with people from your team and from different teams instead of sending messages, emails etc.
- If we want to measure the progress of our work, we measure the end product.
- Sustainable development is highly valued in Agile project management. Shareholders should maintain a constant pace.
- Team members should focus on good design and technical excellence. It will enhance agility.
- Simplicity is the key. The thing is to maximise the amount of work which is not done.
- Self-organising teams are the best when it comes to running around architectures, requirements and designs.
- Team members need regular intervals in order to think about in what way they can become more effective. After that, they can come forward with some solutions and take action – adjust their behaviour accordingly.
What are the key components of Agile?
User story is a definition of a work request written from the perspective of the user, focusing on determining the customer’s objectives. Thanks to the user stories, team members have enough information to work. In other words, they can assess how much effort they have to put in accomplishing the request.
Sprints are iterations which last for a short time, up to three weeks. After one successful iteration, it comes time for the next one. In such a way it’s possible to create the whole product and to finish the project. After finishing the sprint, people responsible for it should review the product and check what is okay and what corrections have to be made. Another sprint is started to make improvements and modifications to the products or services.
Daily Scrum meetings
Stand-up meetings, which are also called daily Scrum meetings, last less than ten minutes. During these meetings, team members make sure that everyone knows what to do. It’s worth mentioning that all the participants have to be in a standing position. It definitely keeps the meetings short.
Modern workplaces using Agile always have Agile boards which help teams track progress of projects. Sometimes it’s just a “simple” whiteboard with sticky notes. It can also be a Kanban board. People might as well use a special function in their project management software.
Managing backlog is one of the key tasks for project managers. During planning sessions, team members estimate story points to every task. And during spring planning, stories are being moved from the backlog into the sprint. They are expected to be completed throughout the iteration.
Why should you rely on Agile methodologies?
Above all else, it’s possible to be flexible and open to changes in the project scope. The next advantage of Agile project management is that there is no need to define the whole project scope since its inception. We cannot forget about the fact that the team members become more independent and, at the same time, more responsible. With Agile, the scope of work is important, but not key – the most important thing is concentrating on satisfying customers.
Are there any cons of Agile?
We have to keep in mind that Agile project management will be perfect for rather small teams. What’s more, the progress of work isn’t strictly controlled day after day. Also, it can be assumed that people who are responsible for a project are always competent and highly motivated, which might not be the actual truth. If you choose Agile, you choose product approach, not project approach. But in the end, managing a project that way is still a good and innovative idea.
We have explained the most important things connected with Agile project management and its iterative approach. Such an approach isn’t for everyone but still there are lots of benefits of Agile and modern workplaces should take advantage of it. It is beneficial not only for software developers but also for marketers and many more individuals/businesses.