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An Introduction to Agile Project Management

Agile project management is a type of project management that can help you and your team deliver high-quality work in shorter time, with more frequent and smaller releases. The Agile methodology was developed as an alternative to other traditional methods such as Prince2 waterfall or RUP (Rational Unified Process). It breaks down the development process into smaller chunks and emphasizes on iterative software development so that fewer changes need to be made if something goes wrong at any stage of the project.

Agile project management is a way of managing projects that is focused on delivering high-quality software in short iterations. Agile project management comes from a set of principles and practices for managing software development in short cycles with rapid feedback. The approach emphasizes people and interactions over processes and tools, while providing flexibility, opportunities for involvement, and continual adaptation. Agile methods are suitable for most project environments where requirements may change at any time; they therefore promote iterative processes that adapt to these changes quickly.

The Agile Manifesto

Agile is a set of values and principles that guide the development of software and other products. The Agile Manifesto, a document that outlines the core principles of Agile, was created in 2001 by a group of software development practitioners who were seeking a more effective and flexible approach to software development. The Agile Manifesto consists of four values and 12 principles, which are described below:

Values:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

Principles:

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  • Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  • Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  • Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
  • The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

These principles are intended to guide the development of software and other products in an Agile environment, and they emphasize the importance of flexibility, collaboration, and continuous delivery of value.

The following are some of the most popular approaches to Agile Project Management:

Scrum

Scrum is the worlds most popular Agile framework and is used as a process for developing and sustaining complex products.  Scrum is based on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and decisions making should be based on what is known. As with all Agile methods, the Scrum framework employs an iterative, incremental approach to  predictability and risk control.

The Scrum Framework defines “teams” as self-organizing and cross-functional groups that work together continuously to deliver product increments within a fixed time frame, called iterations.  Iterations or Sprints can be measured in weeks or months. Each Sprint has its own Sprint goal with respect to delivering potentially shippable features at the end of each iteration; this goal is set by the Developers within a long-term Product vision.

Scrum practitioners believe that they need to manage projects differently from traditional approaches because software development differs from manufacturing processes in several critical ways:

  • It’s not possible to predict with confidence how long it will take to develop new functionality until you’ve actually developed it
  • Projects are large and complex, with many interdependent components
  • Large numbers of stakeholders affect project success
  • Customer feedback should inform product build

Kanban

Kanban is a system for managing and visualising workflow. For visualisation in kanban, you typically have a Kanban board with a set of columns that represent the different stages of your project/process. You add tasks to each column as they’re created, and move them from one column to another as they progress through their lifecycle in the system. The kanban board is used to visualize work and progress. It displays which tasks are being worked on at any given time, who’s working on them (and where), and how long it takes for each step in the process to occur.

Kanban is an improvement on traditional waterfall management systems because it allows managers and teams to see what’s going on at any given moment throughout their organization’s workflow processes without having to wait until there’s an official status report or meeting scheduled for discussion purposes.

Lean

Lean is a set of principles that help you design and deliver products more effectively. It focuses on the elimination of waste and utilization of the right resources.

The lean methodology includes:

  • Simplicity (or simplicity): Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.
  • Tools: Use the simplest tools to get the job done. For example, if it requires a hammer to drive a nail into a piece of wood, use that tool instead of an axe or saw when you can accomplish your task with fewer steps. If this sounds counterintuitive at first glance, consider how many versions of each tool exist; would everyone prefer using an axe or saw over a hammer simply because it has more features? The answer depends on whether these extra features actually improve efficiency (and not just make things seem fancier).

DSDM

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM) is a project management and delivery framework that follows the principles of Agile software development. DSDM is based on the belief that the most effective way to deliver high-quality software is to involve the end users in the development process and to focus on rapid delivery of working software.

DSDM is a practical and flexible approach that can be applied to a wide range of projects, including software development, business change, and IT service delivery.

The key principles of DSDM are:

  • Active user involvement
  • Focus on business need
  • Deliver on time
  • Collaborate
  • Never compromise quality
  • Build incrementally from firm foundations
  • Develop iteratively
  • Communicate continuously and clearly
  • Demonstrate control

DSDM is suitable for projects of any size and complexity, and it can be used in combination with other Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Lean.

Disciplined Agile Delivery

Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) is an Agile software development framework that provides guidance for teams on how to deliver value incrementally and iteratively. DAD is based on the principles of Agile and Lean software development, and it emphasizes the importance of continuously delivering working software and adapting to change.

DAD is designed to be flexible and scalable, and it can be applied to projects of any size and complexity. It provides a set of principles, practices, and roles that teams can use to guide their work, and it is designed to be integrated with other Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Lean.

Some of the key principles of DAD are:

  • Continuous delivery of value
  • Emphasis on teamwork and collaboration
  • Adaptability and flexibility in the face of change
  • Focus on delivering high-quality software
  • Emphasis on continuous learning and improvement

DAD provides a roadmap for teams to follow as they deliver software, with a focus on delivering value incrementally and iteratively. It provides guidance on how to plan, develop, test, and deploy software, as well as how to manage risks and ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Scaled Agile Framework

The Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a methodology for scaling agile development tools and practices to larger enterprise organizations. It is a collection of principles, practices, and patterns for organizing and managing multiple agile teams, projects and programmes. It provides a framework for organizations to align their strategy, structure, processes, and culture to maximize the value of their investments in agile. SAFe is based on five core values of alignment, builtin quality, transparency, program execution, and releasing value. It also includes four key components: team and technical agility, program portfolio management, and DevOps.

Agile is the way to go!

Ultimately, whatever framework or methodolody you choose, Agile is a way of working that is focused on the customer and emphasizes continuous delivery and use-case driven development. It uses short iterations, frequent releases, rapid feedback, and testing throughout the entire lifecycle of a project.

Agile emphasizes people over process, interactions over tools and collaboration over documentation. It encourages you to focus on delivering value continuously rather than completing tasks in phases or iterations. And it promotes adaptive planning instead of predictive planning so that requirements can be changed if necessary as the project progresses. Agile done well, helps firms manage risk, build close collaboration and deliver solutions, products and services that customers love.

Conclusion

Agile is a great way to manage your projects, but it’s important to understand which method is right for you and your team. We recommend trying out some different approaches before committing to one particular methodology.

If you’d like to learn more why not check out some of our fully interactive, zero powerpoint trainings below!

Further Agile Scrum Training

 Online Professional Scrum Master Training I (PSMI)

 Online Professional Scrum Master Training II (PSMII)

 Online Professional Scrum Product Owner (PSPO)

 Professional Scrum Product Owner Advanced (PSPO-A)

 Online Professional Agile Leadership Essentials (PAL-E)

 Applying Professional Scrum (APS)