You would never wear a swimming suit to your best friend’s wedding any more than you would take your tuxedo to the beach, unless the wedding happens to be at the beach. Consequently, you should strive to tailor your business techniques to the job at hand. One of them is the agile project management.

Whereas the traditional system is ideal for routine jobs, it doesn’t handle complex products that well. This is where a framework like agile project management really shines.

What Is Agile Project Management?

Traditional methods may focus on having a fully finished and furnished product before testing it. However, agile project management aims at testing its products as many times as possible while the product is still in development. You can do this by creating a product with minimum capabilities as fast as possible and test it. Afterwards, through iterations and cycles, the product goes through several developments and improvements, which you can also test in turn.

As a result, you can recognize problems and defects easier. This allows teams to correct the course of things before it’s too late. Additionally, agile project development pays attention to the individuals working on the project plus the communication between them.

Who Began Using the Agile Project Management Framework?

William Royce first explored the topic of resorting to a more flexible management system for complex projects in 1970. Subsequently, in 1986, an article by the name The New New Product Development Game was written by two authors, Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka, and published in Harvard Business Review. Finally, by 2001, a group of software engineers gathered, put their heads together, and came up with the agile manifesto.

The agile manifesto is a broad guideline for anyone trying to implement a process that is both iterative and people-centered. It consists of 4 key values followed by 12 principles.

It was a bunch of software engineers who first lay down the manifesto. So they wrote it with their problems in mind. Nevertheless, several industries adopted the framework, specifically when it comes to product development. For example, a new marketing campaign can appropriate the agile framework for its purposes.

How Much Does Implementing This System Cost?

This system is quite cheap to run as it doesn’t require plenty of material. All you need is a board on which to put the backlog, which is a prioritized list of all the required work. The labor cost associated with agile might initially seem exorbitant. But this happens because a lot of work gets redone over and over again till the feature is optimized. However, this cost is minimal when compared with the possible cost savings accomplished by agile management.

To paint a clearer picture, let’s imagine a hypothetical situation where a team of individuals are tasked to create a software product. The product is complicated and the client isn’t certain what they want. So the product runs the risk of becoming obsolete if it takes too long to produce. In this scenario, the team in question has two alternatives:

  • Either they can adopt a traditional system, where they build the product fully and then test it;
  • They utilize the agile framework, where they correct issues as they come up and change their targets as they go along.

Obviously, the first system runs a very high risk and is very liable to end up costing both the team and the client a great deal. What if the product isn’t what the client wanted? What if the scope of the project kept increasing until things got out of hand? Agile project management circumvents all these issues. What matters is having a functioning product that satisfies the needs of all those involved.

Having said all that, I should point out that using agile management is easier said than done. A practitioner of the agile project management framework by the name of David Matthew compared agile project management to poker. He said it was easy to learn, but difficult to master.

5 Ways in Which Agile Project Management Can Help You

The obvious benefits of agile project management are streamlining your work and helping you avoid serious problems down the road. But it has several other advantages up its sleeves.

1. Speed

In a world where timing is everything, agile project management delivers quick solutions to an ever changing landscape.

2. Less Wasted Resources

Part of the beauty of the iterative process is how it allows you to weed out anything that is superfluous. Any feature or product that proves to be a failure is quickly snuffed out.

3. More Focus on the Customer Needs

One of the biggest problems with the traditional project management methods is the degree of disconnectedness between it and the customer’s needs. It’s only when the product is finally released that the team can get a sense of how much their efforts accord with what the customer had in his head.

Conversely, agile project management enables a team to be in constant communication with a customer. This way it is able to offer them something in line with what they want.

4. Empowerment

Instead of utilizing a rigid hierarchical structure where orders are sent down a chain of command, agile project management gives the team the complete freedom to choose how to:

  • Arrange themselves;
  • Assign the tasks
  • Set the deadline for completion.

As long as they follow the agreed rules of agile project management (the 4 key values and the 12 principles), they direct themselves as they please.

team testing project

5. Quicker Learning

Not only does the team learn from its mistakes when it comes to product development, it also learns from their own work and their process. In other words, the team using agile project management constantly reflects on their own tasks. They also think about how they can improve their process, their inter communication, their assignment of tasks, and so on.

So How Does the Agile Project Management Work?

You should bear in mind that the agile project management manifesto outlines a framework. It doesn’t delve into the specifics. Consequently, several different methodologies have sprung. Each of them adheres to the agile mentality, yet applying it in its own way. Think of it as the difference between a film genre, the framework, and the actual script, the methodology. While romantic comedies usually have a certain formula, an actor can only perform once they have a solid script in their hands. The three most popular methodologies are scrum, lean, and kanban.

Have you tried the agile project management framework? How did it optimize your company? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Images from depositphotos.com.