Why Agile is popular in project management?
We know that Agile practices are not new but the need of these practices are more in 21st century are critical. That is why based on the need these practices experts have been grouped together and various agile methodologies are developed. Although the seed of agile come from software development but in today business environment agile project management is suitable for every industry. From kitchen projects to space technology projects! The reasons that Agile is a popular choice of many organizations because of the perceived value that Agile brings to an organization.
What is Agile?
If you google the meaning of agile you will get these synonyms ” nimble, lithe, spry, supple, limber, sprightly, acrobatic, dexterous, deft”. I did dozens of surveys in my agile workshops and asked hundreds of participants there that what goes in your mind when somebody say this word “agile” to you. To my expectation there was no single answer. Further I asked them to write three paragraphs on the meaning of agile for you, meaning of agile for your management and meaning of agile for your customer. In summary answers were like mentioned below.
Participants says Meaning of Agile for me is.
- Flexibility to plan, no micro management, no documentation, develop final product quickly
Participants says Meaning of Agile for my management is.
- Quick delivery, more business, transparency, ability to change, no time waste in making exhaustive long term plan, self-organizing team, self-motivated team, team commit for delivery not for work
Participants says Meaning of Agile for customer is.
- Value for money, can prioritize and change features of product, transparency, early to market, fail fast, early problem detection, more involvement of business team in development
Agile is a project management approach that helps team and customer making a valuable product quickly. Agile project management comprises a range of methodologies all of which are built upon a set of core value statements and principles. Agile methods generally promote a disciplined project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices intended to allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals.
What is Agile project management?
Project Management is Application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements (PMBOK). Definition of Agile Project Management should be extension of this definition. Here the skills, tools, techniques and knowledge are specific to managing those project which have agile characteristics. Design, build & delivery in the agile is iterative and incremental. Agile project managers need to adopt service leadership which is contrast different from bureaucratic or autocratic leadership. Agile project expects a highly motivated and matured team in place. A flat project organization structure rooted in the value of trust, openness, respect, communication is required to manage project in agile way.
What are the benefits of Agile project management (APM)?
Agile project management is not a binary concept. It is not fair to say Project A is being managed using Agile Project Management and B not. APM is based on certain values & principle; defined in agile manifesto. More close you are to those values and principles more agile you are and vice versa. More agile you are more get benefited. There are many benefits of managing project using Agile methods some of those are as below.
- More sense of satisfaction in the team
- Improved quality
- Improved decision making
- Reduced wastage
- Dynamic value prioritization of features (addressing changes)
- Improved productivity
- Improved trust and safety
- Increased speed
- Saving money (by not doing unwanted/ least wanted work)
- Increase Revenue (by early to market)
- Capability to quickly improve based on the end user feedback
- Customer satisfaction
Is my project is suitable for Agile project management?
We must understand Agile is not silver bullet of all the problems of the projects. Secondly even if it is needed to solve your project problem, it may not work till the time right value system, infrastructure is in place. It may solve lots of your problem but you need to do lots of work before this work for you. In medical science terms, even best medicine does not work on every patient and apart from this patient also need to have lots of disciple while taking medicine. If change is not something which you are going to face in the project, then do not think about agile because ROI of implementing agile is negligible in that case.
Above diagram is based on the Ralph Stacey’s complexity matrix
Type 1: Requirements & Technology both are certain. These are simple projects. Do not agile project management for this kind of project. It is not worth to spend time and money.
Type 2: Requirements are unstable and technology is complicated. This are complicated projects. These projects are best suited for agile project management.
Type 3: Requirements are not fully known and technology is new (not stabilized yet). These are complex projects. These project are again best candidate for agile project management. But you need to focus on specific agile practices to bring things under control with respect to uncertainty aspect.
Type 4: Requirements are not known, technology is not known, problem not properly defined. There is a chaos so the chaos project need to be converted into complex project by doing some research. No methodology will work for these kind of projects.
The most appropriate projects for agile are ones with aggressive deadlines, a high degree of complexity, and a high degree of novelty (uniqueness) to them. We want to use agile when we are doing something that is new, or at least new to the team building this product. If it’s something the team has done before over and over, then the team probably doesn’t need an agile approach.
What are agile project management skills?
I do not recommend you become scrum master or agile project manager of the same team for which you have been project manager earlier. The reason for this is relationship between you and your team. Since long team has been looking towards as a commander. They wait for your command and control to start and stop the work. This approach is anti-agile. It is not easy for any team or manager to break this mental block in couple of days after training. So it is better to move into another team. As an agile project manager you should take care of following this.
- Be a servant leader and help in creating a productive environment for the team.
- Do not micro manage team
- Do not ask report and status. But encourage team to share the information within the team and update their work status voluntarily on some information radiator system
- Be mentor for the team. Help them understanding the values of practices rather than forcing them to follow processes
- Do not encourage heroism in team, continuously put effort in creating a winning team
- Protect team from the distraction of environment. Distraction may be management meeting, reporting, convincing management, negotiating with management about the project work, infrastructure unavailability, dependency on someone.
- Help product owner in understanding his/her responsibilities.
- Help team in understanding & incorporating each and every agile value and principle
Agile project management certification and references
- Agile Project Management
- PMI ACP
- Scrum Developer Certified (SDC)
- Scrum Master Certified (SMC)
- Scrum Product Owner Certification (SPOC)
- ScrumStudy Agile Master Certification (SAMC)
So no doubt that why Agile is popular in project management in 21st century.