Project Management Guide
Agile Project Management
Agile project management is a comprehensive approach to project management. The key aspect of agile project management is to break down larger projects into smaller actionable parts. Agile is more of an umbrella framework rather than a guideline for project management and there are several sub frameworks under the agile methodology such as Scrum and Kanban.
What is the Agile Project Management Methodology?
Agile project management is the methodology that allows you to break down a project into small parts which are known as sprints or iterations and that can be worked upon individually one by one. The breaking down of a project into parts allows the development team to deal with the project more efficiently, as well as to adapt to changes quickly.
At its core, agile project management is a series of tasks that can be handled through a six-step process given below.
1. Requirements analysis
The first step is to analyse the requirement of the customer and to prioritize them according to the needs of the customer as well as the organization. At this stage, the projects are envisioned, crafted and put to paper.
Read More: Requirement Management Guide
Once the requirements are clear, the plan is made accordingly. The planning stage involves budgeting, timeframes, team creation, and outlining the initial project requirements. This stage is for providing the team with a direction, but the details change as the project evolves.
Once the project planning is done, the teams design sprints or iterations based on the requirements. This involves deciding the length of the iteration, their release dates, the task load for each team member as well as the details of individual tasks. This allows the agile team to have a detailed plan for the development stage.
This stage involves the actual development of the product, QA testing, documentation for the iterations, training, and the overall development of individual sprints.
Once the iteration is complete, it is released to the customer for testing and review. Meanwhile, the teams continue to work on the next iteration, analysis and support.
6. Track and Monitor
Once the iteration is released, it is reviewed by the team, as well as the stakeholders. Each release is tracked diligently and monitored for any bugs or issues in its functionality. The sprint review allows the team to either go back to the sprint and fix any issues, or to move on and make changes to the following iterations according to the review.
The Core Values of Agile
Agile project management is a very successful approach towards project management. Its success has spilled out from software development to education, construction, marketing, events and several other industries. The reason behind its universal success are the core values that define agile project management. The values given below ensure that any agile project is headed in the right direction at all times.
1. Individuals and Interactions Over Processes and Tools
One of the reasons for agile’s effectiveness is that it holds people over processes, which is not the commonly followed practice in most organizations. Agile is based on the understanding that people can affect the project more than the process can and human interaction has no substitute. This allows the project to have a human touch and it is grounded in reality.
2. Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation
Often detailed documentation is required for projects. And while documentation is necessary, it can hinder the speed and efficiency of the project. Agile reduces the documentation to a bare minimum in order to ensure that the team is working on a functional product over a series of forms.
3. Customer Collaboration Over Contract Negotiation
The Agile Manifesto categorically promotes collaboration within the agile team as well as with the customer. Within an agile project, it is encouraged for the customer to engage in the project throughout the process and not just towards the end for negotiation purposes. This allows for the project to take shape as per the requirements of the customer.
4. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan
Agile project management is rooted in flexibility. The project is broken down into parts so that any changes that may occur, can be dealt with in isolation and the changes aren’t time consuming or expensive. While following a plan is important, not responding to any upcoming changes can deter the quality of the project.
12 Principles of Agile
The core values of Agile help any project stay in the right direction by defining its priorities and objectives. Similarly, there are certain principles followed in agile project management which allow the project to be completed without any major hiccups. Agile project management follows 12 basic principles which guide the culture of the team undertaking the Agile project.
- The first principle dictates that customer satisfaction is of paramount importance and that it needs to be achieved through early and continuous delivery.
- It is important to accommodate changes as and when they occur throughout the development process.
- The delivery of software sprints or iterations needs to be frequent, the quicker the better.
- Collaboration between the development team and the stakeholders is important for the success of the project.
- Motivation and support is the key to an efficient team. Trust the team to put their best foot forward.
- Face-to-face interactions are the best kind of interactions.
- Progress is to be measured primarily through the functionality of deliverables.
- The pace of development should be consistent.
- A successful project is the result of technical excellence and good design.
- Keep it as simple as possible.
- Self-organizing teams lead to great architectures, requirements, and designs
- Teams need to reflect on their effectiveness at regular intervals.
These are the guiding principles behind the excellency of agile software development. Now that we have a basic understanding of how agile project management works, let us take a look at the terminology used in Agile.
An ‘Agile Sprint’ is a small part or an iteration of the project. Tasks are broken down into actionable sprints in order to deliver predetermined versions to the product owner within certain time constraints. Sprints allow the team to achieve smaller goals and get a sense of tangibility to their progress. It also allows for continuous review of the project and helps the teams adapt to any changes quickly.
An agile sprint has to be completed in under four weeks and the team members are expected to be ambitious with the number of tasks they complete within each sprint. An Agile sprint offers several insights into the project and allows for flexibility at all stages.
An ‘Agile Epic’ is a large compilation of work which can be broken down into smaller components. These smaller components are known as stories or user stories which are based on the requirements of the end-users.
Epics are not the same as sprints. Epics are large portions of work and they can comprise of several sprints and several boards. These epics, named after the scale of work they encompass, allow maintaining hierarchy for a large project. Epics are flexible based on customer feedback and user stories. As feedback changes, the epics evolve accordingly. Epics are crucial in terms of organizing your work across several boards and sprints.
Agile Iteration Planning
Iteration planning is an important activity within agile project management . An agile iteration is a small component of the project which is delivered consecutively throughout the development phase of the project. Each iteration is planned in advance to ensure that the requirements of the product owner and the other stakeholders are met.
A detailed plan is created for each iteration during a planning meeting, which includes details of each team member and each task, and the allocation of resources. The ideal duration for every task and the ideal team member to deal with the task are considered during this planning phase. Iteration or sprint planning is important, as each iteration or sprint needs to be in line with larger project requirements. Iteration planning also helps with time management and consistent progress within an agile project.
Agile project management is a very modern approach towards managing software development projects. It breaks down larger projects into actionable parts and ensures that each part is completed within a given time frame. This allows for efficiency as well as flexibility throughout the project. Agile project management also ensures that people are given the utmost priority in the project. This ensures a human touch and added functionality to the project. An agile project is arguably a better-managed project than most others. It ensures timely delivery, an eye for detail and quality, and promotes collaboration and flexibility.