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.

agile-manifesto-principles
The Agile Manifesto Principles

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:

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.

Project Management, simply, is a way to manage and organize things with a team of professionals working closely to achieve business targets and goals. Every department of a company, whether small or big, can’t survive without proper management and monitoring of its employees and their workings.

We’ll see in this article how a clear project management process helps your organization in being more productive and your business model better rolled out in the marketplace.

The Importance of A Project Management Process

From outside the four walls of an organization, project management might seem simple and easy.

But to a surprise, it’s not merely limited to knowing the workflow, solving complex puzzles, and implementing the designed rules.

This field of work involves much more than expected and has some technical aspects as well that needs to be well defined and well processed. Take a look at a few:

  • Internal/External Tasks.
  • Business Budgets.
  • Dependencies.
  • Risk Management.
  • Employee Management.
  • And much more…

Why does project management in some cases fail? Let’s see some of the reasons:

  • Projects sometimes become hard to handle as new projects may involve new working style
  • Many times project managers are not able to understand the problem-solution space to get the expected results.
  • Customers themselves are not clear with the actual requirements of the product/service they need
  • Organized Working is something not achieved while handling teams, coordinating with peers, meeting deadlines, lack of resources, etc.
  • Lack of proficiency and knowledge in the managers pulls back their growth due to which they are unable to see the big picture.

These were some general points to discuss and now take a look at the challenges the Project Leaders face at their job along with their respective fixes.

Take a rundown:

Unreachable Deadlines

One of the most commonly seen reasons projects don’t get deployed on time is unrealistic expectations from the clients regarding the delivery of the product/service asked for.

The ‘Initial Deadline’ set is something that is not achievable due to which the project timelines usually slip, and the attempts go in vain.

In the cutthroat competition, targets are not set as per the real timeline frames, instead are driven by targeted business goals and requirements.

The Fixes to unreachable deadlines

Here, the senior level personnel can take care of the deadlines and other related parts, which requires proper planning, analysis, coordination and communication by keeping a close eye on the real-time progress of the ongoing project(s).

Many project management software and tools are available that helps you keep all the checks and plan your events, schedules, meetings, etc., thus keeping a clear track.  

Poorly Defined Goals

A significant difficulty that both PMs face and the team members along with them is- what exactly to do, what to expect, where to start, and how to end.

The first step from where a project begins is with its achievable goals and acquirable objectives with a blueprint of all the phases to be executed.

The interrogatives how, when, and why must be answered before making a headstart.

If the goals and aims are not pre-defined in a transparent and explainable way, your endeavor is undoubtedly doomed to fail with a lot of confusion and chaos leading you nowhere.

The Fixes to poorly defined goals

The initiation must be with clear goals, prepared plans, specific direction, feasible deals, and kickoff meetings, allowing you to reach your destination with an understandable road map.

The management and planning tools can be used to better run the business projects.

Unaligned Scope

Scope creep is what many senior professionals fear of and never want to witness.

The scope and direction of the project get off track when a project starts and moves in a certain way, but as it progresses, it is on another track leading a different path totally opposite to the specifications of the customer or client.

Many times, it is seen the project takes a different shape and a look, unlikely the beginning, which often results in project expansion outside the pre-set objectives.

This may further increase rework and use of additional resources, thus, incurring more cost and efforts.

The Fixes to unaligned scope

Avoid such a situation with proper planning, aligning goals, understanding customer needs, making realistic assumptions, documenting feasible deadlines, and communicating the objectives to the team.

All these will help you lead your management efforts to the right path, befitting you and your organization.

Lack of Skills and Abilities

A manager proceeds with his endeavors with the support of his team and its members.

Mostly in small companies, it is seen that people are assigned as per their availability, not their expertise and work experience, primarily when a new project is undertaken and to proceed with it.

Lack of knowledge and skills to work on new technologies, systems, and software prove to be dangerous for your project’s advancement.

The team members, in parallel with the seniors, are not trained to be a good fit for the roles, meet challenges and perform the assigned tasks; undoubtedly, the project development will see a setback in its progression and may lead to a halt.

The Fixes to lack of skills and abilities

Core competencies and master skills of employees must be documented, which may provide valuable insights about an individual’s expertise and area of work so that the right person can be aligned with the proper role to perform.

Also, the skill gaps can further be reduced by the provision of seminars, webinars, training, sessions, certifications, etc., encouraging them to boost their knowledge, thereby, improving their as well as business’s productivity.

Disconnected Communication

The final deployment of your project with the desired outcomes can never be done with a miscommunication with the peers.

Poor communication is one of the biggest challenges to surpass to make your project’s delivery a big success.

Giving instructions, asking queries, and providing information all when done in the right and clear way dispenses semantic outputs.

So, open communication is what is needed where managers must pay close heed towards it by applying the best ways to portray the project and company goals for clear visibility among the team members.

The Fixes to disconnected communication

Collaboration software and tools available in the market are specially designed for the proper flow of communication among teams and different departments.

Such tools enable all the associated people to remain in a loop to be updated regarding the various iterations of the project development phases.

Key takeaways

  • Project Management is an inevitable aspect of Business Management, where high authorities and senior professionals must get aware of the management techniques and methodologies to derive fruitful benefits out of your attempts.
  • There are many online training and courses available which one can go for to enhance their dexterities and show them up in their real-life projects to expand the brackets of knowledge and career both.
  • Hope the soft documentation will help you sort out managerial issues pulling back your growth.

To recap:

  • 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.

What are the four key values of agile project management?

What are the key advantages of afile project maanagement?

The key advantages of agile project management are:

What does Agile Project Management fix?

Related Agile Business Frameworks

AIOps

aiops
AIOps is the application of artificial intelligence to IT operations. It has become particularly useful for modern IT management in hybridized, distributed, and dynamic environments. AIOps has become a key operational component of modern digital-based organizations, built around software and algorithms.

Agile Methodology

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.

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.

Agile Modeling

agile-modeling
Agile Modeling (AM) is a methodology for modeling and documenting software-based systems. Agile Modeling is critical to the rapid and continuous delivery of software. It is a collection of values, principles, and practices that guide effective, lightweight software modeling.

Agile Business Analysis

agile-business-analysis
Agile Business Analysis (AgileBA) is certification in the form of guidance and training for business analysts seeking to work in agile environments. To support this shift, AgileBA also helps the business analyst relate Agile projects to a wider organizational mission or strategy. To ensure that analysts have the necessary skills and expertise, AgileBA certification was developed.

Business Model Innovation

business-model-innovation
Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Continuous Innovation

continuous-innovation
That is a process that requires a continuous feedback loop to develop a valuable product and build a viable business model. Continuous innovation is a mindset where products and services are designed and delivered to tune them around the customers’ problem and not the technical solution of its founders.

Design Sprint

design-sprint
A 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.

Design Thinking

design-thinking
Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.

DevOps

devops-engineering
DevOps refers to a series of practices performed to perform automated software development processes. It is a conjugation of the term “development” and “operations” to emphasize how functions integrate across IT teams. DevOps strategies promote seamless building, testing, and deployment of products. It aims to bridge a gap between development and operations teams to streamline the development altogether.

Dual Track Agile

dual-track-agile
Product discovery is a critical part of agile methodologies, as its aim is to ensure that products customers love are built. Product discovery involves learning through a raft of methods, including design thinking, lean start-up, and A/B testing to name a few. Dual Track Agile is an agile methodology containing two separate tracks: the “discovery” track and the “delivery” track.

Feature-Driven Development

feature-driven-development
Feature-Driven Development is a pragmatic software process that is client and architecture-centric. Feature-Driven Development (FDD) is an agile software development model that organizes workflow according to which features need to be developed next.

eXtreme Programming

extreme-programming
eXtreme Programming was developed in the late 1990s by Ken Beck, Ron Jeffries, and Ward Cunningham. During this time, the trio was working on the Chrysler Comprehensive Compensation System (C3) to help manage the company payroll system. eXtreme Programming (XP) is a software development methodology. It is designed to improve software quality and the ability of software to adapt to changing customer needs.

Lean vs. Agile

lean-methodology-vs-agile
The Agile methodology has been primarily thought of for software development (and other business disciplines have also adopted it). Lean thinking is a process improvement technique where teams prioritize the value streams to improve it continuously. Both methodologies look at the customer as the key driver to improvement and waste reduction. Both methodologies look at improvement as something continuous.

Lean Startup

startup-company
A startup company is a high-tech business that tries to build a scalable business model in tech-driven industries. A startup company usually follows a lean methodology, where continuous innovation, driven by built-in viral loops is the rule. Thus, driving growth and building network effects as a consequence of this strategy.

Kanban

kanban
Kanban is a lean manufacturing framework first developed by Toyota in the late 1940s. The Kanban framework is a means of visualizing work as it moves through identifying potential bottlenecks. It does that through a process called just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to optimize engineering processes, speed up manufacturing products, and improve the go-to-market strategy.

Rapid Application Development

rapid-application-development
RAD was first introduced by author and consultant James Martin in 1991. Martin recognized and then took advantage of the endless malleability of software in designing development models. Rapid Application Development (RAD) is a methodology focusing on delivering rapidly through continuous feedback and frequent iterations.

Scaled Agile

scaled-agile-lean-development
Scaled Agile Lean Development (ScALeD) helps businesses discover a balanced approach to agile transition and scaling questions. The ScALed approach helps businesses successfully respond to change. Inspired by a combination of lean and agile values, ScALed is practitioner-based and can be completed through various agile frameworks and practices.

Spotify Model

spotify-model
The Spotify Model is an autonomous approach to scaling agile, focusing on culture communication, accountability, and quality. The Spotify model was first recognized in 2012 after Henrik Kniberg, and Anders Ivarsson released a white paper detailing how streaming company Spotify approached agility. Therefore, the Spotify model represents an evolution of agile.

Test-Driven Development

test-driven-development
As the name suggests, TDD is a test-driven technique for delivering high-quality software rapidly and sustainably. It is an iterative approach based on the idea that a failing test should be written before any code for a feature or function is written. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is an approach to software development that relies on very short development cycles.

Timeboxing

timeboxing
Timeboxing is a simple yet powerful time-management technique for improving productivity. Timeboxing describes the process of proactively scheduling a block of time to spend on a task in the future. It was first described by author James Martin in a book about agile software development.

Scrum

what-is-scrum
Scrum is a methodology co-created by Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland for effective team collaboration on complex products. Scrum was primarily thought for software development projects to deliver new software capability every 2-4 weeks. It is a sub-group of agile also used in project management to improve startups’ productivity.

Scrum Anti-Patterns

scrum-anti-patterns
Scrum anti-patterns describe any attractive, easy-to-implement solution that ultimately makes a problem worse. Therefore, these are the practice not to follow to prevent issues from emerging. Some classic examples of scrum anti-patterns comprise absent product owners, pre-assigned tickets (making individuals work in isolation), and discounting retrospectives (where review meetings are not useful to really make improvements).

Scrum At Scale

scrum-at-scale
Scrum at Scale (Scrum@Scale) is a framework that Scrum teams use to address complex problems and deliver high-value products. Scrum at Scale was created through a joint venture between the Scrum Alliance and Scrum Inc. The joint venture was overseen by Jeff Sutherland, a co-creator of Scrum and one of the principal authors of the Agile Manifesto.

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

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