Agile project management (APM) is a strategy that breaks large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. In the APM methodology, each project is completed in small sections – often referred to as iterations. Each iteration is completed according to its project life cycle, beginning with the initial design and progressing to testing and then quality assurance.
Understanding agile project management
In a dynamic and complex world, businesses must be able to change direction and adapt quickly.
While the software and marketing industries are perhaps most associated with APM, all businesses can benefit from adopting agile methodology. Indeed, it is now being utilized in car manufacturing, universities, and also for military purposes to name a few.
The time that it takes for an iteration to be completed is called a sprint, and sprints typically run for a few days or as many as four weeks. Ultimately, this approach to project management allows iterations to be released as they are completed.
Upon release, each iteration is then critiqued by a review team composed of key stakeholders. These stakeholders gain insights from the current iteration to guide the direction of the next iteration (step) in the process.
The four key values of the agile project management
The APM framework is based on the Agile Manifesto which was originally written to guide software development. However, the four key values listed in the manifesto can be applied to almost any industry that has a focus on meeting consumer needs.
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. In the face of advanced technology, the APM framework still recognizes the importance of human input.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation. When project teams avoid being bogged down by small, insignificant details, they can focus on delivering results.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. Traditionally, customers are only involved at the beginning and end of project management. However, in APM the customer is involved with every step of the process to ensure their input is incorporated.
- Responding to change over following a plan. Agile project management works with change instead of actively trying to resist it. It emphasis creating a minimum viable product (MVP) at regular intervals as the process moves from iteration to iteration.
Advantages of the agile project management approach
- Early error detection. By allowing faults to be detected as they occur, agile project management negates the need for expense fixes once a product has gone to market. When travel company Thomas Cook found that their slow website left customers unable to purchase, they switched to APM. Over the next 3 months, the company was able to detect loading errors early and recouped an estimated $190,000 in lost business.
- Empowerment. The APM approach increases trust, builds accountability, and encourages a diverse range of ideas. As a result, projects are delivered efficiently with a focus on continuous improvement and user experience.
- Increased sales and profits. Businesses who adopt a more agile approach spend less time and thus less money developing products. But perhaps the single biggest cost-saving lies in the decreased reliance on expert consultation to guide the development process. In the APM approach, the experience level of junior engineers and developers is fast-tracked through hands-on learning.
- Agile project management is an iterative development framework that breaks large projects into smaller parts, known as iterations.
- Agile project management advocates human over machine input and a focus on delivering results. It also focuses on customer collaboration and continuous product improvement.
- Agile project management allows businesses to develop products efficiently without an over-reliance on expensive consultation fees.