Posted by Pamela Swift in Planning & Management
Article Contributed by Lisa Michaels
Project management is central to a business’s overall success and profitability. When projects, whether carried out for clients or for the betterment of the entire company, become delayed or go off track, they put the business at risk of losing money and jeopardizing its brand.
More businesses today are relying on a management strategy known as the agile methodology. This approach to project management continues to outshine the practices once considered standard for keeping projects on task in the business arena.
Read on to find out how your business can benefit from implementing an agile methodology.
What is Agile Methodology?
The term “agile”, when applied to project management, comes from agile methodology, which originated itself from software development. Along with being applied to projects undertaken by a company, agile can also be applied to every other aspect of running a business including human resources and other key areas.
In fact, when compared to the project management approach known as waterfall, agile is increasingly considered to be the better choice. Whereas waterfall relies on a predictable and rigid method of carrying out a process from start to finish, agile allows for flexibility and individualized attention to a project.
Waterfall follows a one-way progression and does not allow for previous steps in a project to be undone or changed; agile permits project partners to go back and forth in the creation process as needed to meet new expectations or new ideas brought to the discussion table.
Furthermore, agile does not require a long planning process in a project and instead acknowledges that every step of the process may not be foreseen right from the beginning. Because the needs and wishes of the project can be adjusted or changed easily, agile can be carried out in weekly or monthly sprints.
The Principles to Follow for Agile Methodology
The 10th annual State of Agile survey conducted by VersionOne admits that when agile initiatives in a project fail it is often directly related to a business’s resistance to change or to culture issues within a company. In fact, agile requires strong leadership, sturdy commitment, and a clear vision from management to succeed.
For the principles of agile methodology to work in a company, project managers must lead by example and clearly communicate with project members. Frequent updates about status reports, check-ins, feedback, and roadmap updates are all key when utilizing the agile approach.
Managers are encouraged to use video conferencing software for project management solutions and to organize and strengthen interpersonal bonds among management and project members. In fact, this technology is very practical to utilize for the agile methodology when face-to-face interactions among group members are not possible.
One of the most popular communication software options used by agile project managers today is Slack, which offers a free basic edition. Slack is also utilized by NASA and offers both private and open channels for different teams and projects.
Managers also use Asana, which allows for each project task to be split up into different sub-tasks and assigned to individual project members. Asana also permits managers to assign due dates and add files as needed.
A more traditional solution is Skype for Business which allows for polling and whiteboards for 250 project members in video conferencing. It sometimes presents simple problems that are easily resolved with easy troubleshooting tips.
In addition to video conferencing and project management solutions, managers can benefit from utilizing cloud storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive for organized and secured storing and sharing of documents.
The Agile Methodology Process
Agile is a fluid and friendly approach to managing a project as long as a few simple rules are followed. First, project managers should remember to be transparent. Employees want to know what is going on in regards to the project and what problems need to be addressed.
Project members should also work in groups. There should be several smaller groups working toward one key goal rather than one large group working on a variety of tasks together. Each smaller group should also self-organize and decide how they want to accomplish their goals.
Second, after every bi-weekly or monthly sprint, groups should evaluate the project up to its current point. They should reflect on how to improve the project as well as tune and adjust their behaviors to become more effective.
Third, each group, as well as the entire project team as a whole, should adopt the agile project mode and mindset. It is vital that the groups produce visible results and new content to make clients happy as well as to motivate employees.
Group members and managers alike should request feedback, welcome mistakes as opportunities to learn and change but also act quickly to fix problems rather than allowing them to continue. Managers should use empathy when interacting with employees to fix mistakes.
The Agile methodology gives your business one key advantage: while your rivals are planning and perfecting their projects with the waterfall approach, you are making sales and money. Your customers will also know that your company is growing because you are releasing new features and are capable of changing course to adapt to existing ones.
About the Author
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. She spends her free time trying out new recipes or reading Scandinavian crime novels.