There was a time when the word ‘AGILE’ was just a buzzword, strategically sprinkled across conversations. But that’s not the case now; most organizations are experiencing firsthand the value of agile project management services. In today’s competitive market, businesses must keep up with growing customer demands. One way businesses accomplish this is by rapid value delivery to customers.
The tech ecosystem is ever-evolving, and businesses need an agile mindset to ensure that they are ahead of the curve. An agile mindset fosters collaboration, adaptability, and continuous improvement. Research shows that over 52% of project managers use agile frameworks and 71% express satisfaction with their use of agile management methods. Let’s dive in deeper to identify some of the important aspects that can help you in the implementation phase.
Guiding Principles of Agile Project Management
The origins of agile principles can be traced back to the year 1957. This was the time when industry veterans like Bernie Dimsdale, Herbs Jacob, John Von Neumann, and Gerald Weinberg were using an agile approach. They used an incremental development approach ( called ‘Agile’ today) to build software products for IBM and Motorola. This approach to software development was different from traditional methods ( known as ‘waterfall’). However, modern-day agile and its principles were introduced much later in the year 2001.
This approach to project management is multi-faceted and can vary based on business, product, service, team, and so on. Here are some of the top guiding principles of agile project management services that make it a preferred choice for most teams.
Top Guiding Principles
- Embrace Change: Change is good in Agile. Agile teams like change because it helps get better results. They can quickly adjust to what customers and the market need. Change can happen anytime. New things can be added in the next work cycles. Teams need not worry about new changes or needs; they include them when needed.
- Iterative Process: Projects are split into smaller, easy-to-handle parts called iterations. This helps deliver steady results. After each part, teams collect opinions, make tweaks, and change direction if required.
- Empowered Teams: Agile teams can make decisions on their own. When team members have control, they feel responsible and come up with creative ideas. Everyone works together for the project’s success.
- Continuous Improvement: Agile teams always look for ways to do better. They often sit down to discuss what’s working and what’s not. This helps them adapt and come up with new ideas.
- Transparent Communication: Talking clearly and openly is very important in Agile. Teams have regular short meetings, write clear notes, and use tools that help everyone understand the work. This builds trust and makes sure everyone knows what’s happening. Teams and stakeholders stay involved and work well together.
A real-life example of the Agile Methodology
- Challenge: Philips, a Dutch multinational conglomerate corporation, faced inefficiencies and bureaucratic challenges in their software delivery process. They recognized a need to improve management structures to equip their teams for faster and more effective solutions.
- Agile Solution: To combat these challenges, Philips adopted agile principles. They restructured their management approach and introduced several agile coaches to make the process more streamlined.
- The Results: Over time, the bureaucratic barriers were significantly reduced. Teams became more agile, capable of quick decision-making and adapting to changes. Even smaller teams took complete ownership and were successful in managing their individual products, leading to faster and more efficient product development and delivery.
Benefits of Agile Project Management
Agile was established with the goal of rapidly identifying, streamlining and adjusting issues in the SDLC lifecycle. An approach where the developers and the other stakeholders can deliver better products, in a shorter, and iterative manner. In this competitive space, agile is the perfect approach for companies aiming to transform how they approach product development and deployment.
Some Noteworthy Benefits:
- Adaptability in Dynamic Environment: Agile enables teams to quickly adapt to changing market conditions, customer needs, and priorities. Thus, empowering them with the much-needed flexibility in their SDLC. The team can adjust their course of action based on the feedback received from stakeholders.
- Faster time to Market: An iterative and incremental development approach facilitates early delivery of valuable features. This enhances the business’s ability to get to the market faster. Thus, gaining a competitive advantage.
- Quality Enhancements: In agile projects, regular tests and continuous integration help identify and address issues early in the development cycle. This leads to higher product quality and further reduces the expensive defects in the final delivery.
Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: One of Agile’s primary goals is to prioritize the customer. By delivering products in iterations, Agile allows customers to see and use the product sooner. Regular feedback loops shape the product according to the customer’s needs, often resulting in a final product that exceeds expectations.
Improved Team Collaboration: Agile is more than just a project management methodology; it represents a cultural shift. It fosters a collaborative environment where every team member, from developers to stakeholders, collaborates closely. Practices like daily stand-ups, sprint reviews, and retrospectives encourage open communication, ensuring alignment and a unified direction for everyone.
- Increased Transparency: Transparency is at the core of Agile. Whether it’s through Kanban boards, sprint burn-down charts, or regular demos, every stakeholder gets a clear picture of the project’s progress. This open communication eliminates surprises, builds trust, and ensures that everyone, from the development team to the client, is on the same page.
Implementing Agile Project Management Services Effectively
Now that we’ve covered the fundamentals and core benefits of agile project management services, let us look at the implementation. Here’s a 5 step approach to do this effectively:
Step 1: Roadmap Streamlining
The first thing to do is identify and define the business need that the management services will effectively handle. Discussions here could revolve around the big-picture ideas that need to be accomplished. The agile team and respective owners can convert their vision into a roadmap.
This roadmap will contain a high-level view of the user stories, the goals, and a rough timeline to get there. It’ll be beneficial to identify and prioritize the tasks, the time it will take to reach them, and the required efforts. You need to add smart and measurable metrics to each of the goals – add name, date, feature, and owner.
Step 2: Release and Sprints Plan
The product owners, with multiple features in place, will need to prioritize each item in the sprint cycle. The complexity of projects and the length of the sprints will guide the release plan. Usually, the product team does this planning, but it should also include suggestions from product owners, managers, and scrum masters.
During sprint planning, the focus shifts to a micro view. Alongside the owner, the development team plans the sprints, focusing on specific tasks and goals to accomplish. Then, choosing one of the agile methodologies, such as Scrum or Kanban, becomes simple.
Step 3: Team Alignment
As the name suggests, agile projects move fast. So it is important that the team is always aligned. The team needs to regularly collaborate and remove any foreseeable roadblocks in the development and delivery pipeline. A daily 10-15 minute standup should be enough to keep the team aligned with the progress. This may come off as annoying to some if you’re starting anew. However, this is the kind of communication that is critical to drive agile project management.
The agile project team must quickly address and voice any issues, ensuring regular communication is a constant practice.
Step 4: Sprint Reviews
Every sprint cycle aims to ship a functioning software. While shipping the software is an accomplishment, reviewing the completed work and sharing insights with the team is critical. These reviews focus on the practical aspects involved in the sprints.
During this stage of implementation, the team should raise some important questions: What did we do right? What hurdles did we encounter? What went wrong? How did we achieve this milestone? What lessons can we implement in the upcoming sprints?
Step 5: Retrospection and Future Planning
Agile management should be sustainable so the team needs to start on new sprints as soon as the older one is over. To make sure that the next sprint is free of hurdles, a retrospection is critical. All the stakeholders can connect to retrospect and plan future sprints.
Several visual boards align everyone on the same agile goals. Companies most commonly use Scrum and Kanban workflows. Over 87% of organizations using agile choose Scrum, and 57% opt for Kanban. Depending on the team size, needs, and preferences, some companies also combine Scrum and Kanban.
Overcoming Common Challenges
A company that’s in the transition phase from traditional to agile project management, may face several setbacks. These are a norm across industries, and most of the successful agile project management services overcame these challenges. Some of these challenges are:
Change resistance: This is one of the most common challenges, after all, who wants to get outside their comfort zone? Very few, right? Getting everyone on the team excited about agile can be challenging because it requires them to change the way they have been working. So the leaders should take a proactive approach towards this transition and take it slow. Sufficient training and resources for the team will be helpful. Agile project management can only be successful if continuous improvement and adaptability are embraced in the team.
Companies need to use the right tools and services that help to speed up the agile sprints. The primary objective of the Agile approach is that team members take ownership of their projects, but for some, it may be a challenge. Some may prefer to be told what needs to be done, and this may be a setback. Encouraging ownership will help solve this issue in the long run.
The journey to agile project management is definitely rewarding in the long run. If you are in this digital transformation journey, we the Practical Logix’s team can help you get more strategic about it. We have a dedicated team with years of experience in creating valuable software solutions and supporting clients in their digital journey. Get in touch with us to know more about our agile project management services.