We publish articles on different topics related to project management, agile methodology and philosophy, software and application development.
Benefits of Agile Project Management
Agile project management is a much more flexible approach to handling your tasks. And although it was originally designed to help software developers create better products faster, it is also perfectly usable for projects that don't involve any development.
As opposed to the waterfall approach, where the team decides on a set of goals and works straight towards achieving them in a set time period, agile projects focus on constantly monitoring your progress, reporting your advances to your customers, and constantly re-evaluating your priorities.
By doing that, you and your team will be able to create better products that are well-adapted to the market. It is not uncommon for a waterfall project to fail simply because it took too long to finish, and the trends or requirements have long since changed by then.
If you've never tested the agile approach in your own workspace, you should give it a shot. Let's dive a bit deeper and take a look at the 12 main agile project management principles.
Agile Project Management Principles
1. The customer is king. The whole philosophy of agile project management centers around satisfying your customer, quickly and continuously.
2. It's called "agile" for a reason. You should be ready to constantly change your priorities to satisfy rapidly-changing requirements at all stages of your project, even nearing the very end of it.
3. Higher delivery frequency. Whereas during a waterfall project, an update every couple of month would be satisfactory, you should get ready to pump out updates weekly, or even daily when working agile (this doesn't mean you should be sacrificing quality, though; those updates can be small, but getting you closer to the end goal ever so slightly).
4. Businessmen/customers communicate with developers on a daily basis. Oftentimes, there's a mediator like a project manager that helps the two sides better understand each other, but in order to eliminate the "broken telephone" effect, agile connects these two directly.
5. Developers are provided with all the tools and support they need to stay motivated and stay on track and are fully trusted to achieve necessary goals.
6. The most effective form of communication is face-to-face meetings in front of a whiteboard, as they remove any kind of misunderstandings that could arise when using Skype calls, for example, or any other type of cold-ish communication. It's also way more efficient to speak to people in person, and a whiteboard is a great tool for visualizing what you (or they) have to say.
7. The only thing that matters to your project's success is the final product that satisfies your customer's requirements.
8. Development is carried out at a constant pace, through agile processes and with the help of constant communication.
9. Hard focus on technical perfection and strong design. After all, what good is a final product if it's riddled with bugs, its UI is unintuitive and the loading times take forever?
10. Despite the previous point, there's no need to overcomplicate things. If there are simpler, quicker ways to achieve the same results, by all means, take them. 11. Self-organization freedom for developers. Software developers are a whole other breed of workers, and when shoved against strict deadlines they might not feel right at their workplace. When you give your team the freedom to organize their own time at work, it will both keep morale up and encourage them to come up with their own, creative solutions for your tasks.
12. Regular progress reviews that allow you to get a deeper insight into how well the team is actually performing and which areas need some more resources dedicated to them. This ensures flexibility and allows you to dynamically dedicate resources to tasks that matter the most.
Now, Let's Take a Look at Some Common Agile Project Management Methodologies
SCRUM is one of the most popular frameworks for handling complex projects incrementally in an agile manner. The key word here is "incrementally". Work is performed in so-called sprints, with the goals given out at the start of each sprint. These can be daily, weekly, or even monthly, depending on the scale of the project. After that sprint is over, progress is reviewed and the terms of the next sprint are decided upon.
Another key point of the SCRUM framework is the recognition of the fact that requirements can and will change, also known as requirements volatility.
Lean Software Development is another popular approach to agile project management and focuses on maximizing productivity and minimizing waste (in our case, waste refers to time). It's good for speeding up your projects and delivering quality products faster but relies heavily on established guidelines, defined tasks, and extensive documentation which developers can refer to whenever they need guidance.
There are countless other methodologies, so let's look at one more and move on. The goal of the Kanban system is to provide the team with a visual board that makes managing tasks easier, depending on the demand. It also implements a pull system that serves as sort of a buffer for ensuring work gets done properly. For example, when you're done with your coding task, it is pulled forward for review, and from there through a few more hoops before being considered done.
Jira Agile Project Management
Of course, it's hard to handle any kind of project without software to help you out, especially when we're talking about agile. Jira is one of the systems designed for this purpose specifically: establishing an easy route of communication between developers and testers/users.
Besides software development agencies, Jira is also perfectly usable for managing any other kind of project since it helps collect data on the performance of each individual team member in the form of tickets. Furthermore, it can be integrated with business intelligence tools to visualize raw data into readable graphs, charts, and organize them on interactive dashboards.
Agile project management has been on the rise since the early two-thousands, and rightfully so. By constantly communicating with all of your team members face-to-face, and keeping customers updated about your progress, while taking note of their ever-changing requirements, you will be able to achieve much more, much faster than you would by simply setting a single end goal and hoping that by the time you achieve it, the world (and your customers) hasn't moved on to something else entirely.
Besides, you will gain important team management skills, learn to identify areas that need extra resources dedicated to them and increase the morale of your staff by giving them the self-organizational freedom they need to perform best at your office.