When it comes to methods of managing work, there are dozens of options to choose from. In recent years, agile has gained prominence and is widely seen as a good fit for many types of teams.
What is agile project management?
Agile project management is an approach that was developed for software development projects. It is built around feedback that can be acted on quickly, resulting in responsive changes made at each step of the project development cycle. The concept of agile management grew out of software development efforts in the 1990s, when developers found that standard project management methods were not flexible enough for the development process, and were also insufficiently adaptable and autonomous. The old way of project management prevented developers from adapting to changes as they developed. Deviations became costly, and surprises were unwelcome.
The result of agile project management processes is a forum for building teams, working quickly and collaboratively, and maintaining schedules and project budgets. This is important for modern business and product development processes, as requirements may shift, testing may uncover unanticipated issues, and budgets may change. With agile, teams could pivot on the fly and engage in shorter development cycles called sprints, which incorporate continuous feedback and testing.
Can agile project management be adapted for non-software projects?
While it was software development that initially refined agile project management, the practice can be adapted to a wide range of development projects.
When originally hatched, agile development hinged on four core values:
- Individuals and interactions instead of processes and tools
- Working software in favor of comprehensive documentation
- Collaboration instead of negotiation
- Responding to change instead of following a rigid plan
The two themes that resonate loudest from these values are collaboration and people-driven processes.
The 12 key principles of agile project management
Agile’s developers further went on to define 12 key principles. While originally written for software development, the principles can be translated to non-software-related projects. They include:
1. Customer satisfaction is the leading priority
2. Change is welcome, even late in the game
3. Deliver work frequently, on a shorter timescale
4. Stakeholders must work together daily
5. Projects should be built around motivated individuals
6. A working product is the primary measure of success
7. Simplicity is essential
8. Sustainable development is key; parties should be able to maintain a constant pace
9. The best systems emerge from self-organizing teams
10. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility
11. The most efficient and effective way of conveying information is face to face
12. The team should reflect regularly on how to be more efficient, and tune their processes and behaviors accordingly
Do you see some theme in these principles? Naturally, alignment and collaboration are highly important to agile project management.
What are the benefits of agile project management
Agile development is popular today, but it’s that way for a reason – it works well. Benefits include:
- More adaptability
- Less risk
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Happier teams
Tips for becoming agile
Agile project management does not happen on its own – you need the right factors in place to prompt it. They include:
- Get the right people on board
- Throw out precepts about the importance of organizational culture
- Make agile a general organizational feature, not something used once by a certain set of people then discarded
- Get the right project management software
The right project management software, such as ProWorkflow, has the flexibility, communication tools, and visibility teams need to become agile. To learn more about how ProWorkflow can help you adopt agile project management, check out its long list of features.