In the past years, agile project management has steadily gained popularity. Over 93% of communication service providers depend on agile project management methodologies, while 71% of organizations in the United States currently use agile approaches according to Pulse of the Profession. The reason is not far-fetched.
Since agile project management methods have many advantages, people all around the world are adapting them to their work processes. Not only do they increase productivity, speed up the project process, and enhance the ability to manage to change priorities but they also improve business/IT alignment.
Before elaborating on how you can profit from these advantages, we want to first define agile project management.
What is Agile Project Management?
Agile project management puts the emphasis on simplifying complicated projects by breaking them down into smaller tasks. This way, teams are able to finish projects faster, be more flexible in their ever-changing environments, and also optimize their work processes.
In comparison to other approaches, agile methods help teams re-evaluate ongoing projects, make necessary adjustments and at the same time increase focused work environments since all the tasks are understandable and therefore everybody can contribute to the project.
Agile Project Management Methodology
Next to the improved work processes, agile project management also has a positive impact on stakeholder interaction. Since agile methods encourage communication in general, they also improve the interaction with stakeholders and team managers.
Since information and responsibilities are clear in agile projects, switching the direction of the project is no problem, since it allows for better completion of the project.
Common agile methods are the Kanban Method, the ScrumMethod, XP, the Agile Manifesto, and many more. The Scrum Method consists of visualizing the work processes using a Scrum Board and allows quick completion of the work in small sessions, which are called sprints. Not only do team members work on their own, but they also get to fix their mistakes and learn from them, which supports a positive work environment that is not too fussy about mistakes, but rather sees the positive side of them. Since agile methods allow constant improvements, project failure is rather uncommon.
Agile VS Waterfall Project Management
Both agile and waterfall, are popular project management methodologies.
The waterfall method represents a linear system. It demands a step to be finished before the next step can be started. It’s especially common in IT teams because their work often depends on the steps prior. Even though this method supports a clear overview of the work, it hinders the team from working flexibly, which can result in slower achievements. It’s also called a sequential methodology.
An agile method on the other hand requires simultaneous work, not linear. Teamwork, developing, testing, implementing customer feedback and many other factors all happen at the same time, which allows the project to remain flexible and adapt to the circumstances. This method is cyclic and iterative and most suitable for team collaboration.
How to Implement Agile Methods
In order to profit from an agile method, you need to introduce it correctly.
- Define your project goal
- Set clear deadlines
- Delegate the sub-tasks and deadlines to your team
- Organize feedback meetings
First, you need to set a clear goal. If you start a project without knowing what your team has to achieve, it’s misleading and a waste of time. When defining your goal, make sure to use clear metrics, which you can control on a daily basis, in order to be informed about the progress.
A project is not only successful once you have reached the goal – the time spent on the project is also very meaningful. If you spend years on it, it isn’t as successful as an early finished project. Set deadlines for the project itself, as well as for sub-tasks.
Afterwards, delegate the sub-tasks to your team members, communicate their responsibilities to them and clarify all questions.
Lastly, you should make sure to organize regular meetings in order to discuss potential dangers to the project, mistakes, but also improvements and successes.
Which Tools to Use in Agile Projects
Even though agile project management methods are very helpful on their own, there are some tools which reduce the workload even more. Next to helpful communication tools, which allow team members to stay in touch and interact no matter where or when, intelligent software allows team managers to keep track of the work done by their team members.
To summarize, agile methods are the right choice for teams who strive to be more flexible, improve their communication and increase transparency as well as productivity within the company. Whereas there is also the waterfall methodology, which suits teams with linear work processes, this method leads to slower achievements. In order to implement an agile method, there are many methods that one can choose from. Especially popular is the so-called Scrum Method, which helps visualize the work processes clearly. Implementing the right tools such as communication or project management software has proven itself to be very advantageous.