Agile project management is a way of taking a project from beginning to end. It uses an iterative approach that encourages collaboration and flexibility within teams, making it particularly suitable for companies hoping to stay ahead of their competitors and deliver exactly what customers want - before they even know they want it.
In this article we’ll explore agile project management in more detail, discussing the common frameworks used in agile project management and the potential benefits it can bring. Read on for everything you need to know.
What does agile project management really mean?
The term agile project management refers to a specific way of managing projects.
In agile project management, teams use a number of continuous releases rather than following a more linear plan, as they might have done if they were using the more traditional waterfall project management.
When teams opt for agile project management, they benefit from the fact that future releases can easily be adapted according to feedback. This flexibility allows teams to overcome potential challenges and ensure that the end project meets customers’ expectations.
Why do we need agile project management?
Agile project management brings with it a whole host of benefits for teams working in a range of sectors.
The methodologies used in agile project management allow for improvements in development speed, while also nurturing collaboration within teams to ensure that everyone’s ideas are taken into account.
Of course we’ve touched on the flexibility that agile project management provides. This flexibility means that teams can respond to sudden changes in demand and emerging trends, while still delivering projects on time and on budget.
Traditional project management vs agile project management
Agile project management isn’t a brand new concept. Current methodologies have roots tying back to the earlier days of software development - but uptake hasn’t been universal.
In fact, until recently the go-to option was waterfall project management - and many teams are still using this more traditional method. Waterfall project management does have its advantages, but it limits teams in a number of ways too.
In waterfall project management, phases of a project are clearly outlined. Teams tend to then go through the phases, only beginning the next one when the previous one has been finalised. While this does help to keep things moving forward, it also brings difficulties in terms of flexibility, as teams aren’t able to easily revisit a previous stage when needed.
Agile project management follows a broadly similar format, but is far more iterative. Feedback is taken into account more regularly, and individual increments are far smaller. As a result, teams can quickly revisit previous stages without causing too much disruption.
Benefits of Agile project management
Agile project management is enormously beneficial. It helps to improve efficiency, gives teams better opportunities for productive collaboration and enables all involved to spot potential problems before they start to snowball into much bigger issues.
Resource efficiency: Teams can break down projects into smaller chunks, prioritising resources effectively from the very start.
Flexibility: Planning and execution go hand in hand, which means team members can react and adapt to changing circumstances as they go.
Problem detection: Increments are smaller, giving more opportunities for emerging issues to be spotted before they have the chance to derail the project.
Collaboration: Teams can work collaboratively throughout the project. Customer feedback is also taken into account and used in a collaborative way.
Agile project management frameworks
The tools, tasks and processes used to deliver agile project management are referred to as frameworks. There are a number of different frameworks that are commonly used in this form of project management. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular options.
Kanban is a visual way of running projects. Kanban boards allow teams to keep track of progress with ease. Boards display columns of tasks including those that are in progress, those that have been completed and those that are yet to come. This enables teams to quickly check on project progress. The framework is particularly beneficial in reducing wait times and keeping projects running smoothly.
Simple project management software such as Hello Ivy allows teams to make full use of the opportunities that kanban boards provide, helping all team members to understand progress made across tasks and projects. With Hello Ivy, Kanban boards can be used to visualise the entire project from start to finish.
The scrum framework also allows teams to approach projects in an iterative way. Teams using this method break down a project into a number of sprints. The sprints tend to have a duration of between one and four weeks, with a draft version of the project being made available at the close of every sprint. The use of this framework means that teams have access to a recent working draft at all points in the project.
Sprints are used within the scrum framework to manage progress throughout the project. The exact length of sprints used depends on the project and its individual targets, however teams commonly choose a sprint duration of two weeks. Within this set time frame, teams must clear a number of tasks from their backlog. A working draft is then created at the close of every sprint.
Components of an agile project management strategy
The best agile project management strategies are made up of a range of components, each of which is necessary to ensure the success of the project as a whole. Here are some of the most important components of an agile project management strategy.
Communication is key in all projects, but in agile project management it really is vital. Teams must be able to communicate effectively with each other throughout each and every stage of the project. As teams move through different project phases, they must continue to communicate effectively to ensure that the project is meeting its targets at every stage.
If projects are to be delivered on time and on budget, estimating can never be overlooked. This is a critical component in agile project management, as it enables teams to create accurate estimates of ongoing and projected costs, along with estimates on timeframes and overall project duration.
Breaking down deliverables
Great project management should keep all team members engaged and motivated. One way of doing so is by breaking down deliverables into a number of more easily achievable milestones. This allows teams to see the project progressing in real time, and enables project managers to keep an eye on how the project is going.
Teams should be encouraged to report back on the status of different phases of the project. Doing so provides opportunities for team members to collaborate on work, while also giving teams a chance to raise any points that they feel require further discussion. Reporting also helps managers keep track of progress and performance.
Projects benefit enormously from the impact that feedback can have when teams use agile project management. Every iteration provides a chance for feedback to be taken into account and acted upon, to boost the potential of the finished product and ensure it meets the expectations and requirements of future customers.
Moving forward with agile project management
If you’d like to find out more about the difference agile project management could make within your business, take a look at Hello Ivy.
Hello Ivy puts tasks, projects and team communication in one place, to help teams manage their workload with ease. Tasks can be managed, tracked and visualised in real time, meaning teams always have access to the latest information on what others are working on, when work is due, and what’s up next.
Try Hello Ivy for free for 14 days, or get in touch with the Hello Ivy team to find out more.
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