Beginner’s Guide to Agile Project Management
There are plenty of ways we can get the job done, however, the only viable method of doing things is the one that helps us avoid frustration, anxiety, poor work quality, and irrational time consumption.
Agile project management is a hot topic in the software development world for years, as it allows streamlined and flexible processes and easier task completion. For those who’re wondering what agile project management is, we decided to offer a brief guide on it, showing its biggest advantages and explaining its principles.
What is Agile project management?
Agile project management can be described as the project management method that focuses on breaking larger projects into smaller, more manageable tasks, completed in short iterations. Ultimately, this method allows teams to finish projects faster and adapt to the project’s needs better. The agile approach allows teams to adapt to changes faster, and allows them to effortlessly change direction and focus as the project advances. This way, teams can re-evaluate their progress and adjust to more pressing needs.
Agile project management: A brief history
Agile project management methods are closely tied to teams working on software development. Back in the nineties, software teams were struggling to find the best way to organize their workload and beat the traditional project management techniques that made their workday much harder. More precisely, software development teams had problems with the lack of flexibility, autonomy, and adaptability in traditional project management methods, and they wanted to change it.
The truth is, software development is a niche where surprises and changes happen frequently, and a niche where strictly outlined processes – with fixed processes and outcomes isn’t possible. In software development niche change is fundamental.
This is where we come to agile project management in which teams could allow changes to happen, to make the best product possible. This is how struggling developers made a process in which there was room for shorter development cycles (sprints), made continuous feedback and testing a priority, and paved the way for a more iterative process.
However, it was only 20 years ago where developers sat and made the official agreement over the core tenets of agile project management and explained the philosophy behind it. This is how The Manifesto for Agile Software Development was created and made official what we know now as the Agile method.
What are the 4 core values of Agile?
The Agile approach has four core values and twelve principles that should serve as a guide for teams that want to implement an agile project management system.
The 4 core values of Agile are:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
Technology will never be able to make up for the human touch, no matter how sophisticated it becomes. That said, teams shouldn’t rely too strictly on the predetermined processes and tools, but rather stay flexible to adapt to changing circumstances.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
This means managers shouldn’t overload developers with documentation, but rather work on creating the environment and providing them with the agile development tools they need to get the job done.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
This means putting the quality of the product first, as opposed to profit. Communication with clients should come first, to ensure that the end product meets their desires.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
The agile method means the ability to adapt to changes throughout the project’s life. That’s why each sprint should allow an opportunity for review and course correction.
The 12 principles of Agile
12 principles of agile development should be followed during the decision and product development process.
- Customer satisfaction should be the highest priority.
- Change is good and welcomed even late in the development.
- Deliver projects frequently, with a preference for the shorter timescale.
- Team coordination should be conducted daily.
- Projects should be built around motivated individuals who are provided with the environment and support they need to get the job done.
- Face-to-face conversation should be a prioritized method of conveying information to and within different teams.
- The final product is the most important measure of progress.
- Agile processes promote sustainable development.
- Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity is essential.
- The best products emerge from self-organizing teams.
- The team should reflect on how to become more effective regularly and tune and adjust its behavior accordingly.
Key components of Agile project management
There are a few components of agile project management to have in mind.
- User stories, which helps the team to understand what work request is and what it needs to be done to be completed. It’s usually a description a client makes and outlines their desires, goals, and why they want it.
- Sprints are short periods (1-3 weeks) where the team works on tasks determined on a sprint planning meeting. As the work progresses, the idea is to repeat these sprints until the product is ready for a review and adjustment.
- Stand-up meetings serve to ensure that everyone is informed on what needs to be done and their role in a team.
- An agile board helps the team track the progress of their project.
Agile project management is one of the most used project management techniques for a good reason. It allows teams to be more flexible, and meet demands effortlessly at the same time. Here, we laid out the basic principles of agile project management, to serve you as a good reference for further research.
A cat enthusiast and a cupcake maniac, Ana is a freelance Content Writer passionate about HR, productivity, and team management topics. When she’s not at her keyboard, you can find Ana in the kitchen, trying to make delicious cookies.