Wikipedia defines agile project management as “an iterative, incremental method of managing the design and build activities of engineering, information technology and other business areas that aim to provide new product or service development in a highly flexible and interactive manner.” In short, it is the secret to success for any project.
Wearing the project manager’s hat seems to be the most difficult task. You embark upon a project with a specific goal, budget and plan in mind, but all of these factors keep changing due to changing user behavior and preferences. This is the reason why most companies have shifted their focus from waterfall project management towards ‘agile project management’. This approach helps project managers react quickly to changes and hit key milestones easily even if the deliverable is a moving target.
What is Agile Project Management?
Agile project management is a technique where you break a huge project down to several smaller projects (instead of phases, where each phase has to be completed before moving onto the next). You plan, design, build, and test each part individually and move towards achieving the bigger goal.
The greatest strength of agile project management is flexibility. One of the main aims of agile project management is ‘responding to change over following a fixed plan.’ However, the project manager needs to be more careful, since the smallest mistake can lead to a serious blunder. Because various small parts of the project will be worked upon, you can lose track easily. Hence, communicating and getting updates from team(s) working on the project is crucial.
That brings us to managing work in the right manner.
Here are a few basics to keep in mind when targeting agile project development:
1. Customer Satisfaction Remains Top Priority
Projects, whether related software development or product development, are undertaken not just for the sake of it, but with a specific goal in mind. The results achieved from them need to be put to use by an end user to solve problems, achieve goals faster or improve efficiency. It is, therefore, important to understand users and plan accordingly. Bridging the gap between requirement-gathering and customer feedback by planning small changes at a time will help you provide a satisfactory end product to users.
2. Welcome Change
Agile project management is all about welcoming change to give customers the competitive advantage. Implement changes whenever needed instead of waiting for a system redesign or for the next system to be built. By implementing changes as soon as conceiving them, you can ensure a better product, even if the project is in the later stages of development.
3. Businesses and Developers Must Work Together
When it comes to project management, there are two perspectives to the work – the developer’s perspective and the business’ perspective.
The developer looks at the project from the inside and focuses on the work that is being done. This means a developer is more concerned with ‘what am I working on now?’ and ‘how much work can I get done?’ On the other hand, businesses view the project from the outside. They provide the overall requirements and prioritization, and are concerned with ‘how much work has been done?’ and ’how much work still needs to be done?’
In order to ensure success of a project, an agile project manager should narrow the gap between the two perspectives. Creating a highly collaborative environment is one solution. This means businesses should frequently communicate with project managers and team(s) to understand the scope of the project, monitor the work being done, and figure out what is left to be done, and so on.
Doing this can be difficult in the modern remote-working landscape, but by leveraging the various communication tools meant for remote workers, you can help both sides understand each other better and create a productive environment.
4. Build a Great Team
Another important aspect of agile project management is team building. Provide the team members with a good environment and training, and support them whenever needed as highly-productive and self-reliant team members can ensure the success of any project. Before embarking upon a project, project managers should choose their team carefully. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of each team member to determine whether or not they will be able to justify the project.
Remember, there is no scope for micromanagement here. Most importantly, trust your team mates.
It is easy to get lost in the fast-paced and ever-changing project development environment, which is why it is necessary to stick to the basics. Agile project management is the science and the art of managing projects in the most efficient manner. Understand agile project management to the core and implement it to simplify complicated tasks.