What is Agile Project Management?
Agile Project management is an incremental method of managing design and building activities that have been incorporated in various fields such as Engineering, Information Technology and other business areas that strive to implement new service expansion in a highly adaptable and interactive manner. Agile management offers a simple framework supporting communication between every team members and reflecting on potential lag in work faced earlier. Companies using traditional waterfall planning have migrated to the agile way of improvement. Waterfall builds software in a phased series with the first time for real feedback occurring right before release. Agile builds software incrementally using small repetitions to keep growth regulated with changing business needs. We can’t go back in phases with the waterfall method, but it is possible with Agile.
Definition of Agile Project Management
Agile Development is a term for several iterative and incremental software development methodologies. Although each of the agile methods is unique in its specific approach, they all share a common vision and core values. There are 2 approaches in agile development namely:
- Lightweight approach
- Fuller approach
The lightweight approach consists of several methods such as Scrum, Lean software development, Kanban (process + method), Continuous integration, Continuous delivery, Extreme programming, and Feature-driven development.
The full approach is used to deploy for more than one team. Features such as Scrum of Scrums, Scrum at scale, Large scale-scrum, Scaled agile framework, Disciplined agile delivery, Agile unified process are part of the full approach.
The Agile manifesto provides certain guidelines to be followed in the evaluation of newly adapted methods over traditional ways.
- Individuals and interactions held between them produce better insights and ideas – Over deploying processes and tools in the development of a project
- Working software adds more value to the team than the comprehensive documentation, without a proper working model or a result created based entirely on the assumption that the software will work.
- Customer collaboration is required to understand the expectations better than negotiating the contract with them.
Responding to changes happening around in the industry and keeping up with the competitors adds value and a purpose to the team, rather than following a plan which is not adapted to developments.
Understanding Agile Project Management
Scrum is an iterative and incremental Agile software development framework providing a continuous development of the project in each iteration and adapting changes for managing software projects and product or application development. It emphasizes “a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal” in contrast to a “traditional, sequential approach”. Scrum enables the creation of self-organizing teams and verbal interaction among all team members. Not a Defined Process but an Empirical Process. In simple terms, Scrum can be defined as an Agile framework for team collaboration to build complex projects.
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There are various roles in a Scrum team:
Scrum master – It is an expert facilitator. She/he plays an independent role ideally not by the reporting managers. She/he plays a vital role in agile delivery. Some key responsibilities are given below:
- The scrum master acts as a servant leader.
- Shields the team from external disturbances.
- Works continuously with the management to track the progress made on a day-to-day basis.
- Takes care of all hindrances to the team to improve the efficiency of the team.
- Ensures the adaptation is done and inspects the process flow.
- Enables close cooperation of all roles and responsibilities within the team.
Product Owner – It is the Internal customer, in other words, the Business stakeholder or Product Owner. The most important task is to communicate the vision of the product in a proper and easily understandable manner. The product backlog for every day is prioritized and discussed in the sprint planning meeting. Evaluation of the User-defined stories is performed by the Product Owner.
The development team- It is also known as the Scrum team usually consists of around 10 members. They have the authority to perform the tasks in a manner possible to deliver with high quality and standards. They are committed to the Agile framework and plan their work accordingly.
How Does Agile Project Management Make Working So Easy?
Product Grooming Session
The purpose of a “grooming” meeting is to assure that the backlog remains populated with items that are relevant, accurate and evaluated to a degree relevant to their priority. Helps in keeping up with the current knowledge of the project or product & its goals.
Sprint Planning Session
What to do?
- Analyze the high priority backlog parts to seek clarity in approach.
- The Sprint Goal needs to be finalized.
- The Scrum Master, Product Owner, and the entire team take part in the initial planning.
How to do?
- Sprint Backlog with tasks is determined and generated.
- Definition of Done (The exit-criteria used to decide whether a product backlog item is complete) for a particular product is determined. The Scrum master and the team is involved in this phase.
Daily Stand Up meeting
- The progress of the project
- Plan for the day
- Changes to be included
- Burn down chart is a graph which is used to reflect on how many hours of work is left in an Iteration.
These are the major topics to be discussed in the meeting.
Sprint Review Meeting
To demo the functionality to the Business or sometimes verifying the agreed user stories in the Sprint backlog if they have met the expected outcome. The Scrum Team, Project Owner, Scrum Master, External stakeholders all takes part in the meeting. Approval on the outcome is accepted, the Product owner can also assess the quality of the development.
Sprint Retrospective Meeting
Three things are considered in this:
- What needs to be done after every sprint
- What went well in the last sprint
- What can be changed in the following sprint
Top Agile Project Management Companies
Some of the top companies in which introducing Agile Project management made a huge difference:
- 3M – Adopting Agile methods provided a dynamic environment rather the traditional waterfall ways.
- IBM – Overcame defect backlogs, On-time product delivery.
- ANZ – Third largest bank in Australia. New features such as Human-centred design principles helped reap rewards.
- Google – Allow users to participate in the development of the Android platform in the Beta version.
- Spotify – Music streaming service gained great results with Agile.
What Can You Do With Agile Project Management?
Investing in Good Stories
A trait added to the backlog is usually referred to as a User story. Different stories from the team are presented and evaluated based on certain criteria. Stories should be independent and do not have any dependencies on other requirements. It must add value to the project both internally and externally. The effort of the story will be estimated by the Product Owner. It should be small and easily negotiable without causing much confusion. Once the story is briefly explained there will be round for voting by the team. If there is a deviation in the expectations then it is discussed again with all the related questions. This process continues until a suitable story is selected. Estimation is done based on points. This eliminates the commitment to time and the effort is based on the tasks assigned.
Working With Agile Project Management
Agile Project management aims at delivering the highest business value first. The important artifacts of Scrum framework help in achieving the same.
It is owned by the Product owner and prioritized by the business compliances. User stories and the use cases are evaluated in the first place and are performed a free form of testing. The features and defects are realized and the knowledge acquired is transferred to the entire team. Brainstorming of other ideas is done. Possible solutions are considered and deployed to technical work. The plan is then devised and the backlog tasks are discussed during the daily Scrum meeting.
It is the subset of the Product backlog which defines the work for a sprint. The team members create the sprint backlog. Each team has its own status depending upon the tasks defined to them by the Agile process. This is updated on a regular basis. The addition or deletion of items is taken care of by the team. The tasks are considered as Done only when it is deployed to the system and reviewed by the Product Owner.
Burn down Charts
The charts provide information regarding the progress and the work remaining for each team. It shows the amount of work remaining for the team to complete before the release. Ideally should burn down to zero to the end of the Sprint.
Value of Agile methods
- Courage: Everyone in the team should be given equal opportunity to speak, to ensure the sprint does moves in One Direction.
- Focus: Stay focused on achieving the agile goals and the delivery of the end product with Value.
- Respect: Team should consider other ideas and perspectives. Never be biased with differences and background.
- Openness: There should transparency and trust within the team and open to taking feedback.
- Commitment: Teams should be committed to their agile goals.
Why Do We Need Agile Project Management?
- Early and continuous delivery of working software in order to show progress made on a day to day basis.
- Embracing change in requirement late in the development is the main and important feature of agile. The changes can be made and integrated into the software even at the last iteration.
- Business people and worker working together daily as a part of several meetings the interaction takes place often and a better understanding could be brought in the team.
- Build a project around motivated individuals and trust them to get the job done.
- The most effective method of conveying a message is through face to face interaction so that none of the expectations is miscommunicated.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress
- Continuous attention to technical excellence is given.
- Simplicity maximizes the amount of work not done which gives an idea of what needs to be prioritized and completed at the beginning.
- Teams self-organize themselves according to the goals needed to be achieved within the timeframe.
Teams regularly reflect and adjust behavior according to the changes that happen in and around keeping up with the competitors.
The current pace of technical reformation can change an industry in a short span of time. Companies that have been in business for decades understand that they aren’t equipped to adapt just as quickly. An Agile approach is all about working more collaboratively, to release product sooner, to get feedback quicker. It encourages companies to streamline their methods and react when they see changes occur.
Why Should We Use Agile Project Management?
Pillars of Agile framework
- Inspection: Appropriate checks are done to keep track of the progress towards Agile aims to detect unacceptable variances.
- Adaptation: Modifying a process as soon as possible to reduce any further concerns or modifications.
- Transparency: Giving Clarity to the vital aspects of the method that is accountable for the outcome.
Right Audience For Learning Agile Project Management
Agile Project management is suitable for people with minimum knowledge on the following terminologies:
The entire sprint is broken down into tasks and the capacity of each team is planned individually. The man-hours possible are taken into account and calculated based on the sprint hours required to complete the tasks, resources available along with deviations that may occur. This provides an entire overview of the number of days required to complete the Sprint and make the User story a completely working one.
Acceptance criteria define the limits of a user story and are used to validate when a story is finished and working as expected. Done-Done is a term regularly used by teams to indicate the work completed during the sprint is “really” done. Done to the point where the consumer would think the work is probably deliverable. Proper Agile teams don’t require two concepts (done and done-done).
Despite the potential barriers such as difficulty in convincing the customer and charging the clients based on hours of work, adopting the Agile software development method makes a visible difference in the quality of output produced
This has been a guide to What is Agile Project Management. Here we discussed the definition, working, skills, scope, and advantages of Agile Project Management. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –