How to Use the Agile Project Management Method to Manage Your Project Team?
Even if you’ve never treaded the waters of project management, you’ve likely heard of Agile methodology.
What originally started out as a way to develop software has turned into a project management methodology used by pros and novice project managers alike.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to use Agile and make your project success rate skyrocket!
Let’s take a look!
What Is Agile Methodology?
According to Agile in a Nutshell’s definition:
“Agile is a time boxed, iterative approach to software delivery that builds software incrementally from the start of the project, instead of trying to deliver it all at once near the end.”
Traditionally, projects are planned in full at the beginning, and you deliver the results in the end.
If something happens in the meantime, it’s up to you to mitigate it and stick to the plan.
If you or your team think you could’ve done something better, well…
You either bring it up with the client (or top management) and negotiate changes, or you keep it to yourself to avoid the paperwork.
Now, this traditional approach works for some projects.
However, when you’re working on a project that requires flexibility, you need a better methodology.
This is where Agile jumps in!
As an iterative approach to software development and project management, it separates projects into flexible bits.
Source: S. Reddy
For example, if you were building an app, with Agile you’d first build the most important set of features.
Then you’d review your work and progress with client, make improvements for the future, and, armed with the new-found knowledge, start working on other features.
The client doesn’t like the originally planned front-end design? No problem! You can switch it around without wasting time.
In the end, you’ll have a high-quality product that meets all the requirements, not just some of them.
The Agile Manifesto and the Core Values of Agile
The Agile idea stems from the Agile Manifesto.
It’s a specific approach to work that prioritizes:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan.
In short, Agile was designed for flexibility.
It’s an approach that all project managers and clients want because it puts value first, and everything else second.
Agile Methodology Prioritizes Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools
Instead of forcing a project to fit into a process two sizes too small, Agile says you should look at each project holistically, and find the best solution for its unique needs.
In turn, you’ll be collaborating with your team and your clients, and helping them do great work.
Agile Methodology Prioritizes Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
At the end of the day, all your client cares about is a great end product.
Be that a marketing campaign, an app, or a change of business processes, what matters is that you deliver on the expectations.
In traditional project management, the product often gets swept to the sidelines in favor of extensive documentation – from Statements of Work, to change logs.
Agile project management helps you focus on what matters.
And by working on one thing at a time, you can make sure that the end product fits the specifications to a T.
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Agile Methodology Prioritizes Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
If you want the end product to be perfect, you have to collaborate with customers.
Unfortunately, we often get sidetracked by documentation, initial plans, and project tracking, that we forget to get in touch with product owners.
Agile project management returns you to what matters – working with the client to create an amazing product.
At the same time, since you’re working in increments, you don’t have to worry about change logs or stacks of paperwork.
Everything is intuitive.
Agile Wants You to Respond to Change, Not Stick to a Plan Blindly
Plans are great. Plans are necessary.
But when a plan is jeopardizing the success of your project, then it’s time to reevaluate.
And there’s nothing quite like Agile project management to help you stay flexible and deliver excellent results.
Benefits of Agile Source: L. Goncalves
Benefits of Agile Methodology
Let’s talk numbers:
- Agile projects are 3x more likely to succeed than traditional waterfall projects
- 49% of managers say that Scrum (an Agile methodology) is successful because of its customer focus
- 50% of teams are motivated by their team’s success, and that’s Agile’s priority
- 98% of VersionOne’s survey respondents said that Agile has helped them increase project success rates.
Ready to go Agile?
How to Implement Agile Project Management
1. Start Sprinting with Scrum
One of the most popular Agile project management methodologies is Scrum.
With Scrum, you break down the project work into Sprints – time-boxed work increments.
Going back to our app example, you’d work on front-end in the first Sprint.
Then, after reviewing the results with the client, you’d start working on back-end.
You’d keep going in Sprints, with each Sprint being focused on a particular feature (part of the product).
Scrum Cheat Sheet:
- Create a product backlog with your client
- Identify priorities and task dependencies
- Start working on the most important tasks through Sprints
- Each Sprint shouldn’t last longer than a month, and it should address a specific part of work
- Remember: one thing at a time!
- Every day, hold short meetings with your team to review progress
- At the end of the Sprint, review your progress with clients and team members
- If new tasks pop-up during the Sprint, add them to the Backlog, and review the Backlog at the end of the Sprint
- Take a look at the product backlog, and decide on what you’ll work next.
2. Stop Multi-Tasking and Start Prioritizing
Agile depends on prioritization. Again, remember: one thing at a time!
Before you start working on the project, assemble the Product Backlog with your clients.
Your Product Backlog should list all the important features the end product should have, i.e. all the tasks that have to be completed to finish the project.
Then, start Sprinting with tasks that have the highest priority.
For example, you couldn’t launch a marketing campaign without researching the target audience first.
Consequently, your first Sprint would be researching the target audience.
Project Central can help you manage your Agile projects.
3. Use Agile Project Management Tools
With Agile, it’s important to stay on track. This is where Agile project management software can help:
- Streamline reporting
- Make sure your team knows what the priorities are
- Track your team’s progress easily, and understand obstacles
- Replace meetings with quick check-ins through project management tools
- It’s easier to share knowledge, and make sure everyone on the team knows what tasks they should be working on.
You don’t need much to go Agile, but good Agile project management software is a great ally in helping you get organized and delivering excellent results.
Is Agile Right for Your Team?
If you often work on projects that require flexibility, and if you want to make sure the end results are so amazing that your customers can’t wait to refer you to their partners, then – yes!
Agile is just what the project manager ordered!