What is Agile Project Management?
It’s no secret that the Agile Model is fast becoming the preferred way to manage projects. Organisations, teams and even project management software are increasingly responding to a demand for more adaptive and evolutionary processes. And for good reason. In a fast-changing business world that needs to respond to rapid market and technology shifts, Agile delivers.
In general, when we talk about the Agile Model, it implies an iterative and incremental method of management. It focuses on helping teams in an evolving landscape and maintaining a focus on the rapid delivery of business value. The methodologies used in Agile Project Management (Scrum, XP, Kanban, Lean and others) all follow the Agile Manifesto that is based on continuous improvement, flexibility, input of the team, and the delivery of results with high quality.
Agile methodology vs. Traditional development
Before going through the benefits for using of Agile project management, let’s compare the traditional and the agile development. In software development, we often talk about the “traditional model” which refers to the Waterfall Model. Very different from the Agile Model especially because it’s not iterative, Waterfall is more about a process where you can see the progress “flowing” through the different phases. In fact, it’s a sequential model usually going from requirement analysis, design, implementation, testing and maintenance. The image below illustrates the difference regarding the value proposition of both methodologies and how agile development tends to deliver visibility, adaptability and value at the beginning of the process and reduces a lot the risks during the project.
During the whole Agile cycle, user involvement is encouraged, providing visibility and transparency, showing the actual progress of projects. As mentioned earlier, the Agile Model is all about iterative planning, making it very easy to adapt when some requirements. The fact that there is continuous planning and feedback through the process means that we start delivering business value from the beginning of the project. Again, the idea is to deliver business value early in the process, making it easier to lower risks associated with development.
Benefits of Using Agile Project Management
Agile is perfect for any project that requires a series of versions or iterations that need to be reviewed and improved on until the final product is ready for prime time. For example, instead of waiting six months for a deliverable that is either flawed or no longer meeting the current requirements, Agile lets you produce a first draft within as little as two weeks (or less) for immediate feedback – and from here you can improve upon each version until it’s complete.
There are a lot of benefits to using Agile. In the project management field, Agile provides project teams, sponsors, project leaders and customers many project-specific benefits, including:
- More rapid deployment of solutions. Agile lets teams deliver a prototype and improve upon it with every cycle.
- Reduced waste through minimisation of resources. This fast and flexible process increases productivity.
- Increased flexibility and adaptability to change. Teams can manage to shift priorities more effectively.
- Increased success through more focused efforts.
- Faster turnaround times. Agile lets teams deliver a prototype and improve upon it with every cycle.
- Faster detection of issues and defects. Agile supports regular and collaborative troubleshooting.
- Optimised development processes.
- A lighter weight framework.
- Optimal project control. The inherent collaborative nature of Agile improves project visibility.
- Increased focus on specific customer needs. Teams can make quick-course corrections based on stakeholder feedback.
- Increased frequency of collaboration and feedback from each version or iteration.
Both methodologies are valuable however each of them may be better suited for certain types of projects. The Waterfall model is a strict process of phases and is generally best suited for projects that have clearly defined development requirements and have a minimal chance of changing in the testing stage. The Agile Model is a more flexible and collaborative process because it allows for the requirements to evolve as the development progresses.
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