What is Agile Project Management?

Is agile a methodology? Agile Project Management allows for rapid feedback and responsive changes at every stage of a sprint and product cycle. This allows project teams and managers to use Agile Project Management methods to work together quickly and efficiently within the project’s timeframe and budget.

A History of Agile Project Management

Software development teams have adopted Agile methods to reduce waste, increase transparency, and quickly address changing customer needs. This is a direct result of Toyota’s 1940s Lean Manufacturing model. Agile is a radical departure from waterfall Project Management, which focuses on “big bang”, launches. Software teams can collaborate better and invent faster than ever before with Agile.

Two frameworks can be used to describe traditional Agile Project Management: Scrum or Kanban. While Scrum is limited to a fixed length of project iterations and Kanban is limited to continuous releases, the continuous release is the focus of Kanban. The team moves immediately to the next project after completing the previous one.

How does Scrum work?

Scrum is an Agile Project Management framework that uses fixed-length iterations or sprints. Each sprint is structured by four ceremonies. The backlog is the list of tasks that must be completed. There are two types of backlogs in Scrum: the one owned by the product owner, which is a prioritized set of features. The other is the sprint backlog, which is filled by taking issues up from the top of that product backlog until there is enough capacity for the next sprint. Each stakeholder in Scrum has a unique role. Scrum Masters are the Champions of the Scrum process for the team. Product owners are the voice of the product. The Scrum team is often cross-functional and responsible for completing tasks.

Agile Project Management
Is Agile a Methodology?

Core Values of Agile

As we have already mentioned, Agile Project Management was first developed for software. The Agile Manifesto was created in part by software developers. You’ll find that word and related terms, such as “developers” or “customers”, throughout.

Don’t let that stop you from doing your best.

No matter if you are creating software or something completely different (like a campaign), they’re a lot of lessons you can learn, regardless of what industry you work in.

The original Agile Manifesto states that Agile is based on four core values.

  • Interactions between individuals and processes.
  • Working on software over comprehensive documentation.
  • Collaboration with customers in contract negotiations
  • Reacting to changes after a plan.

These core values are the foundation of all Agile Project Management methods. They guide everything, from the standard working practices to the Agile Project Management principles.

The core values make it clear that agile approaches are collaborative, and people driven.

This applies to both the work processes (progress is made by “individuals, interactions and customer collaboration”, putting the human element first), and to the final products. The goal is to make functional products that provide the greatest value to the end-user.

Principles of Agile Project Management

The Agile Manifesto outlines key principles:

  • Agile processes promote sustainable development. Users, developers, and sponsors should be able to maintain an indefinite pace.
  • Simplicity is the art of minimizing the work that’s not done.
  • Superior design and technical excellence are keys to agility.
  • The team regularly reflects on ways to improve its effectiveness and then adjusts its behavior accordingly.
  • Self-organizing groups produce the best architectures, designs, and requirements.
  • Customer satisfaction is our number one priority through timely and continuous delivery.
  • Software is delivered frequently in a few weeks to several months with a preference for the shorter timescale.
  • Welcome changing developments, even late in development. Agile processes harness the power of change to enhance customer competitive advantage
  • Create projects that are driven by motivated people. You can trust them to do the job.
  • Developers and businesspeople must collaborate daily during the entire project.
  • Software is the most important measure of progress.
  • Face-to-face conversations are the best way to communicate information with a development team.

Agile methods allow you to create iterations of “The Thing”, regardless of whether it’s actual software or a metaphor (let’s call this “The Thing”) quickly and frequently. It’s better to have “The Thing” exist in imperfect reality than perfect theory.

These principles also have a common theme: Stay aligned and work together. This applies to everyone: the businesspeople, your team, other departments, and stakeholders. Agile project management relies on collaboration and strong interpersonal relationships. As Ted and Bill once said, “Be excellent to one another.”

Advantages of Agile Project Management

Is agile a methodology? Agile Project Management may seem like a trendy methodology du jour, but it has proven to be much more than a flash in a pan.

Because the results speak for themselves. Agile project management principles allow teams of any type to work more efficiently and iteratively, which allows them to respond to changing requirements and deliver quicker.

Greater customer satisfaction

You recall that agile project management is based on customer collaboration.

This has one major benefit: greater customer cooperation means greater customer satisfaction.

Agile project management methods place the customer first and encourage collaboration with all stakeholders to create solutions that solve their problems.

Agile projects include regular testing and review, so you can get their feedback with every iteration.

Happier teams

Agile teams are more autonomous. Agile teams are more autonomous. They often have the freedom to think up innovative ideas, invent, and solve problems that are not possible with traditional project management methods.

This kind of responsibility gives people the confidence to do the job well and encourages them to view themselves as part of the team that can make a difference to the project’s success.

Collaboration and communication are key to creating more open, productive, creative, and happier teams.

Greater adaptability and less risk

The greatest benefit of agile is the ability to manage shifting priorities. Agile’s iterative approach to development and focus on continuous feedback allows you to get the data you need right away, rather than later. This allows the team to make better decisions based on real conditions, not predicted ones.

With designated sprint cycles, better project visibility, regular reporting updates, and clearer project transparency, teams can increase project predictability while reducing risk.

What’s the difference between Agile and Scrum?

Scrum is undoubtedly the most widely used agile methodology today. Seventy-two percent of those who responded to the State of Agile Report said they use Scrum or a combination that includes Scrum.

Agile Methodology - Agile and Scrum
Is Agile a Methodology? – Agile and Scrum

Scrum, like other agile project management methods, adheres to the main agile values (iterations and responsiveness to changes, all that great stuff we discussed above).

Terms you may hear in Scrum

Product Owner

This person is responsible for maximizing the value of the development team’s work. They do this by managing the Backlog.

Development Team

The team is flat in structure and self-organizing. Once the goals have been set, members can tackle them as they wish.

Scrum Master

Facilitates and supports Scrum across the Product Owner, Development Team, as well as the entire organization.

A quick overview of the Scrum process:

  • The Product Owner ranks the Backlog according to priority and lists everything the team must do. The job of the Product Owner is to maximize the work of the Development Team by making sure that the Backlog is possible (i.e., Clear, easily accessible, and well-organized for success.
  • Scrum uses sprints with a fixed duration. Usually, it is a few weeks but never more than a month. Every sprint has a predetermined Sprint Goal. Each Sprint includes a Sprint Goal. Items from the Backlog will be identified and worked on.
  • Sprint Planning is essential before you can make a Sprint happen. You need to determine your Sprint Goal and how you will achieve it.
  • The Sprint is in progress. Once that happens, the Development Team holds a daily standup, called a Daily Scrum, to update the team on the day’s progress and what they will be focusing on today.
  • Each Sprint ends with a Sprint Review. This is a Sprint-specific postmortem meeting. It allows the team to evaluate their performance and helps inform the next round.
  • Iterate, iterate, iterate.
Agile Methodology - Kanban and Agile Project Management
Is Agile a Methodology? – Kanban and Agile Project Management

Kanban and Agile Project Management

Kanban is an agile framework that allows for project management. It matches work with the team’s capabilities. Kanban is focused on speed and agility, giving teams the ability to react to changes even faster than scrum.

Kanban is not like scrum. Instead, work is placed on the To-Do list. Kanban teams can focus on continuous releases which can be done at any moment. The team can see all work and have it scoped. Once a task is complete, they can move on to the next. The WIP limit is a predefined limit on the amount of work that can be done in one column (except for the To-Do column).

Kanban’s four components

List of jobs (or stories)

A list of work (or stories) is a collection of issues or tasks that must be completed.

Columns and lanes

This is used on a Kanban board to differentiate tasks from different workstreams and users, projects, etc.

Work in Progress Limits

This rule limits the work that can be done, based on the capacity of the team

Continuous Releases

The team is responsible for limiting the number of stories that can be released at any given time.

The Kanban boards

Kanban boards are used to visualize the progress of work. It can also be used to plan resources, allowing project managers and planners to visualize the work and create timelines. Kanban boards are organized into lanes and columns that stories can pass through to complete their tasks. Stories are placed in the “Do” column until they reach the WIP limit. You should break down the work into smaller issues and organize it as a priority. Lanes are a way to keep high-priority items separate from the rest.

Which Agile Method works best?

Which methodology do I use? Agile vs Scrum, vs Kanban, vs hybrid? You can borrow the principles and processes that work for you and your team from each methodology.