Project management can be a long, complex, and stressful process. There are often many different people involved in a project, all contributing to different aspects and all constrained to a tight budget - and that makes project management a tricky juggling act.
That’s where training your team on the benefits of agile project management skills can help. But what are agile project management skills, and how does such a change contribute toward how your team works and how it meets KPIs?
In this post, we’ll explore the benefits of agile, how it works, and look at what skills are required by a project manager.
What is agile project management?
An agile workplace focuses on flexibility, allowing employees to choose when, where, and how they work. It creates a happier and more relaxed work environment, which results in greater productivity and better results.
However, this isn’t the same as agile project management, which is an iterative method of software development. In this context, agile focuses on collaboration and working in short, achievable “sprints”. By splitting tasks into smaller chunks that can be distributed throughout a team it enables priorities to be set and projects to continuously move forward.
Agile also encourages the customer to be involved throughout the process so they can monitor progress. It enables them to offer feedback and request amendments during a time in which these changes may be faster and easier to implement.
An agile project manager works with a team, rather than leads it. As a result, some traditional project management responsibilities may be shared by various colleagues across the team.
The principles of the agile methodology
According to the Agile Manifesto, there are twelves principles of agile project management. These are:
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
- Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
- Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
- Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
- The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
- At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
Advantages of agile in project management
Agile is a commonly adopted method to project management thanks to how it encourages collaboration and flexibility. Below are seven benefits of agile project management:
- A stronger product - agile encourages constant testing, which helps identify and fix issues quickly. Because the customer is involved throughout development it also enables changes to be made at any stage. Due to agile being an iterative process, teams learn and grow throughout. Each of these contributes to a better product.
- Customer satisfaction - because the customer is involved throughout development the customer feels valued, and their input enables them to have more say, which leads to a product that best suits their needs. This also leads to better customer retention.
- Saves time - with the customer providing feedback continuously time is saved by avoiding unnecessary blockers and last-minute changes.
- More transparency - because agile breaks projects into smaller, easier-to-manage chunks, it allows for better transparency.
- Fewer risks - continuous delivery reduces risks because sprints are short and issues can be identified quickly.
- Better morale - the flexibility of a self-directed team, together with fewer issues and more collaboration, increases team morale - which in turn also leads to a better product.
- Accurate reporting - agile benefits reporting and forecasting by offering improved and more accurate metrics for time, cost, KPIs, and more.
The drawbacks of agile working
While agile has a number of advantages that work wonders for certain teams, others may find it difficult to make that switch. Certain aspects that some may struggle to adopt include:
- Having no clear set goal - due to the flexibility of agile project management there may not be a clearly defined target for how the project will progress. This can lead to concerns over time and budget, particularly for larger projects.
- Fragmentation - because continuous delivery means the team may be working on different aspects of the project at the same time, and delivery is continuous, output can, at times, be fragmented.
- Scope creep - with projects often starting with no in-depth plan or KPIs, teams risk getting sidetracked or the scope of work unexpectedly grows.
Understanding if your team is ready for agile adoption
Making that switch to agile delivery is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It requires dedication and commitment, and there will likely be challenges along the way. However, with a thorough agile adoption strategy, you should start seeing the advantages quickly.
In order to understand whether your team is ready to embrace agile project management, ask yourself the following questions and carefully consider your answers:
- Is your team prepared or equipped to deal with full-time delivery?
- Are you willing to shape your team so the right people work in the right roles?
- Is your team disciplined enough and have strong self-direction?
- Is your team open to change and do they see the benefits of agile?
- Will your team increase their communication and transparency?
- Is your team prepared to learn and develop?
- Is your team open to more involvement from your customers?
You need to ensure you answer “yes” to the above, otherwise, your team may not be in a position to make that switch. While agile works for many teams, if there is opposition or stumbling blocks it can disrupt continuous delivery and make the process challenging for all involved.
For more information, check out our blog post on how agile and adaptable are your team?
Skills an agile project manager will need in order to lead a team successfully
Adapting to a flexible, open, and collaborative way of continuous delivery can be challenging. As we’ve already highlighted, an agile project manager doesn’t manage a project in the same way as they may have done so before, with many of their previous responsibilities shared by various members of the team.
An agile project manager must oversee the short development cycles of a team to ensure colleagues are working in unison, communicating, and listening to feedback. In order to do this, an agile project manager should have skills such as:
- Leadership - to ensure smooth collaboration and keep all team members and stakeholders engaged
- Communication - to prevent and manage conflict and ensure all areas of the team are transparent and open
- Flexibility - being open-minded and flexible is imperative, so they should adapt to change easily
- Problem-solving - creative thinking to overcome potential problems and utilize the entire team’s skillset is critical
- Facilitation - with feedback given throughout the process, the project manager will oversee this
- Time-management - with continuous delivery strong time management is key
Ready to learn more about agile?
Now you know about the benefits of agile project management, why not learn more? Go1 has a wide range of project management training courses so your team can adopt this collaborative and rewarding method of continuous delivery.
For more information on how Go1 can help your business develop your employees, book a demo with our team today.