agile-project-management

Agile Project Management

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.

They are:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. In the face of advanced technology, the APM framework still recognizes the importance of human input.
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation. When project teams avoid being bogged down by small, insignificant details, they can focus on delivering results.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Key takeaways:

  • 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.

Related Business Frameworks

Business Model Canvas

business-model-canvas
The business model canvas is a framework proposed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur in Busines Model Generation enabling the design of business models through nine building blocks comprising: key partners, key activities, value propositions, customer relationships, customer segments, critical resources, channels, cost structure, and revenue streams.

Blitzscaling Business Model Innovation Canvas

blitzscaling-business-model-innovation-canvas
The Blitzscaling business model canvas is a model based on the concept of Blitzscaling, which is a particular process of massive growth under uncertainty, and that prioritizes speed over efficiency and focuses on market domination to create a first-scaler advantage in a scenario of uncertainty.

Jobs-to-be-done

jobs-to-be-done
The jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) framework defines, categorizes, captures, and organizes consumer needs. The jobs-to-be-done framework is based on the premise that consumers buy products and services to get jobs done. While products tend to come and go, the consumer need to get jobs done endures indefinitely. This theory was popularized by Tony Ulwick, who also detailed his book Jobs To Be Done: Theory to Practice.

Customer Obsession

customer-obsession
Customer obsession goes beyond quantitative and qualitative data about customers, and it moves around customers’ feedback to gather valuable insights. Those insights start with the entrepreneur’s wandering process, driven by hunch, gut, intuition, curiosity, and a builder mindset. The product discovery moves around a building, reworking, experimenting, and iterating loop.

Value Proposition Canvas

value-proposition
value proposition is about how you create value for customers. While many entrepreneurial theories draw from customers’ problems and pain points, value can also be created via demand generation, which is about enabling people to identify with your brand, thus generating demand for your products and services.

Business Design

business-design
business designer is a person that helps organizations to find and test a business model that can be tested and iterated so that value can be captured by the organization in the long run. Business design is the discipline, set of tools and processes that help entrepreneurs prototype business models and test them in the marketplace. 

Design Sprint

design-sprint
design sprint is a proven five-day process where critical business questions are answered through speedy design and prototyping, focusing on the end-user. A design sprint starts with a weekly challenge that should finish with a prototype, test at the end, and therefore a lesson learned to be iterated.

Agile

agile-methodology
Agile started as a lightweight development method compared to heavyweight software development, which is the core paradigm of the previous decades of software development. By 2001 the Manifesto for Agile Software Development was born as a set of principles that defined the new paradigm for software development as a continuous iteration. This would also influence the way of doing business.

Read Next: MVP, Lean Canvas, Scrum, Design Thinking, VTDF Framework.

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"