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Agile Project Management Guide

What Exactly is Agile?

Agile working is kind of like the denotation of the word: ‘Agility.’ It implies fast working, or anything done quickly while using the least amount of time and resources.

In project management, the concept of Agile working dates back to 2000. That is relatively new because experts are continuing to add to the subject matter.

Agile methodology is based upon dividing the entire process of work into smaller chunks or pieces. This helps the project team to work on small parts and improve them continuously before moving on to the next phase.

Working this way ensures two things; faster production of products and fewer errors in working.

Do you know how teachers used to say that the best way to grasp a concept is to learn about its history? Well, we are going to follow the basics here.

History of Agile Project Management (APM)

Agile project management or APM was formerly recognized in the early 2000s. Software development programs required continuous improvements and bug fixes — something that was not possible using the current methods like Waterfall.

It was the age of Rapid Application Development (R.A.D) — and boy, it was booming! This approach reportedly set the premise for Agile working.

As the IT people kept working on RAD to make it even better, they finally ended up with the “Agile” way of working.

It was developed by a group of 17 individuals in 2001.

They based Agile on four basic elements:

  1. Increased interaction between stakeholders
  2. Comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration
  4. Rapid response to changes

Today Agile Has Diversified Into Multiple Forefronts…

Agile management has been well received by almost every industry. It has spawned further frameworks like Scrum, Kanban, Xtreme Programming, etc.

Over the years, Agile project management with Scrum has caught the attention of the corporate world. The fact that Scrum is based on iterations and divides the work into smaller portions has made it a favorite of IT and other sectors.

Agile development focuses on smaller ‘development cycles’.

For instance, while working on a product, Agile workers will not move on to the packaging stage unless they have continuously worked on the design phase.

Moreover, Agile working requires that you get feedback by the key stakeholders during each phase to ensure that the final product is as close to customer expectations as possible.

Pros and cons of Agile working

The pros of Agile working far outweigh its cons.

Pros

  • Rapid development
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Fewer errors in the final product
  • Much great flexibility
  • Faster identification of problems
  • Increased collaboration

Cons

  • Projects can get off track
  • Lack of documentation
  • Not suitable for organizations that require a long time to analyze each phase of product development

Revising the concept of project management

Now that we have got that cleared, its time to move on to project management in Agile.

But before that, let us revise our concept of project management.

Any task that has a specific goal, a budget, a scope, and a deadline is called a ‘project’. For instance, building a new campus of a school is a project.

The skills, expertise, knowledge, and resources that will be used in this project have to be managed to ensure that you have the right thing, at the right time and place.

This is called project management.

Now there are various approaches to manage a project. One of those ways is Agile — that we have just discussed.

Agile Project Management

In simple words, if you break down the project activities and tasks into sub-activities or sub-tasks, respectively, it’s called Agile working.

Oh, and if you are using an iterative approach with it too.

But nothing in life is that simple, right?

That is why we have the details of this as well.

Basically, project management in Agile focuses on finishing the project one task at a time. It’s like delivering the project in parts rather than as a whole.

As discussed before, this approach is a hit in the IT sector for software development projects and more. However, over the years, sectors other than IT have found the use of Agile working to be extremely beneficial as well.

This is because Agile management promotes greater collaboration, trust, flexibility, and empowerment.

How Agile Project Management (APM) Works?

For starters, Agile emphasizes increased collaboration between all stakeholders during each of the project stages. This helps in making better decisions and ultimately, a better product.

Next, teams use velocity, burndown, and burnup charts to measure the progress of their work. Workers adopt continuous deployment (CD) and continuous integration (CI) to automate the processes.

By doing so, Agile workers can complete tasks and incorporate changes much quicker.

Another important aspect of Agile is the allocation of resources. The team makes sure that resources are not under or overused.

Once everything is set, Agile management enables the customers/clients to review the product at every stage and provide their feedback.

This practice leaves little room for error.

How Does it All Compare to Waterfall?

Since Waterfall was what companies ‘used to have’ and Agile is what ‘they have right now’, comparisons between the two are often brought up.

We think its vital to include the major differences here as well so you can understand why people gave up Waterfall for Agile.

Waterfall methodology:

  1. Delivers the project as a whole
  2. Follows a strict sequence of tasks
  3. Relies heavily on the project manager
  4. Is not flexible
  5. Doesn’t follow an iterative approach
  6. Doesn’t break down tasks into sub-tasks

Dive Deeper:

Scrum vs Kanban vs Agile vs Waterfall — A side-by-side comparison

Why you should go to Agile?

We fully endorse Agile working.

Why? Because:

  • The breakdown of tasks into iterative cycles called ‘sprints’ are short (a few days, couple of weeks tops). This helps the team to achieve more in less time.
  • Agile workers release the segments or phases that are completed. This allows the clients and the stakeholders to review and give their critique before moving on to the next stage.
  • Since it encourages constant improvements, the final product is error-free and tailor-made to customer/client demand.
  • Agile involves everyone — hence the increased collaboration. This practice leads to greater diversity, more ideas, and synergies.
  • It gives greater control to customers/clients. They feel a greater sense of involvement in the product they are going to use.
  • Constant testing of the product allows the team to ship out bug-free products.
  • You can address issues as they arise — not at the end of the project lifecycle. It saves time, cost, and effort.
  • Faster production cycles help with the products that have a tight deadline.
  • Lastly, Agile gives you a top-quality product. No matter the deadline or cost, customers don’t compromise on quality at any cost.

Over to you!

Agile working is the future. Anyone who says otherwise is in the wrong.

With the undeniable benefits, one can get from going Agile, it won’t be a stretch to consider APM as the right fit for almost all types of projects.

Article originally published at www.ntaskmanager.com on 21st September 2020.

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