The world of project management is a difficult one to navigate. Clients want one thing and then can quickly change their mind about a project. How are managers expected to stay on track, and more importantly, stick to a budget? The answer is agile project management.
Agile project management allows team leaders to hit their goals and provide accurate updates to their superiors, even when a project’s goals keep changing. It’s about seeing the wider picture and being able to react more quickly to change and any other issues. Before we learn more about the principles of agile project management, let’s look at how it came about.
The Evolution of Agile Project Management
In the early 2000s, Agile project management was born out of the quickly growing technology industry. In such a fast-paced and changing environment, regular project management techniques were no longer cutting it. Particularly ill-suited to this type of fast-paced work environment was the classic Waterfall method of managing projects. This step-by-step process would only move on to the next part of the project when another had been completed. However, it proved challenging to use this in projects that were changing often.
In response, technology leaders on a work retreat set about crafting a new set of principles that characterize the agile approach to project management. It was mainly defined for the development of software. The technology leaders published an Agile Manifesto, which outlines 12 principles of developing agile software.
Agile Project Management
Since then, the principles of agile project management have been used not just in software development, but across industries. Using the main principles, the entire project is broken down into small tasks, which are delivered as they are completed. Then, feedback will be used to evaluate the project further, and the project can be adapted to meet the changing goals. These central principles are reflected in all Project Management courses, including those offered by Monarch Institute.
The Principles of Agile Project Management
As the name suggests, agile project management is a methodology where the tasks and objectives of a project are constantly updated on the fly. Situations can change rapidly, and as such, it’s important to have the flexibility to change direction in a project. This is agile project management.
12 principles define agile project management:
1. Satisfy customers through early and continuous delivery
Minimizing the time spent on each phase of a project allows you to get more feedback from a client and cut out any unnecessary work.
2. Welcome changing requirements to a project, even at the later stages
Being open to change is a key component of agile project management, which results in a higher level of customer satisfaction.
3. Frequently deliver value to customers
Cutting back on the planning and documentation leaves more time for getting the work done. Let the delivery of the work to the customer shape the direction.
4. Build a relationship between the people who create the value and those who sell it
A key part of agile project management is to make sure there’s a good line of communication between the team working on the project and those who are going to use it.
5. Build your projects around motivated team members
Set up your team to become self-directed and avoid micromanaging to allow yourself more space for a broader overview of the project.
6. Face-to-face communication is key
Despite advances in technology, the best way to deliver your work to a client is still face-to-face. This means you’ll get answers straight away to any queries you have, making the whole project more agile.
7. A project that works as intended is the primary measure of progress
As you continuously deliver throughout the project, agile management measures a project’s progress by assessing how well the project is working.
8. Maintain a sustainable working pace
Gone are the days of putting in 12 hours a day to get a project done. Agile project management focuses on short bursts of focused work to get more done overall.
9. Continuous excellence increases your team’s agility
Fixing any bumps in the road as they appear is far better than waiting until the end to work out the kinks.
10. Simplicity is essential
Avoiding the ‘busy work’ is key to being agile when managing your projects.
11. Self-organizing teams provide more value
A truly agile team will know how to make their own decisions, tackle problems, and move the project forward.
12. Regular reflection and adjustments are key to boosting the level of work
Inspecting and adapting to the team’s working practice should be a regular occurrence in an agile environment.
The Advantages of an Agile Approach
As we’ve previously mentioned, despite being created for software development projects, agile project management is now widely considered an effective method across industries. Most companies in the world have now completely adopted an agile approach to project management. Here are just a few of the advantages that come with an agile approach:
- Improved outcomes. With such flexibility within a project team, it encourages workers to work out the details themselves. Think of it as a “bottom-up” style of management rather than a “top-down”. The team themselves are the ones
- Higher satisfaction. With the continuous feedback provided by the customers in an agile approach, the outcome of the project is more likely to satisfy their expectations. That’s because they’ve had a hand in guiding how the project has progressed.
- Increased flexibility. We’ve already mentioned it a couple of times, but breaking up objectives into small, manageable tasks means that it’s easier to respond to any changes that might come up.
- Higher morale in a team. With agile project management, the team themselves take more ownership of a project. This in turns increases their engagement and morale for the project, leading to a higher level of work.
The New Standard for Project Management
Despite being almost entirely replaced by agile project management, the more traditional methods still do have their benefits. Generally, if a project is shorter, then a more standard approach is fine. However, for longer more complex projects, agile project management has proven itself to be the best way to deliver successful projects.
If you’re excited to get started in a project management career, then you might consider doing an online course to get acquainted with the skills needed.