Agile project management approach has become quite popular in a very short span. Many agree that it delivers far better results because goals are adjusted according to environmental changes. However, some critics have argued that it can increase costs and delay projects beyond their expected deadlines.
In this blog post, we review the main principles of agile project management and how they affect project completion times.
Agile Project Management Principles
Agile project management is an iterative approach that relies on making active, incremental changes throughout the life cycle of the project. At its core, agile projects should exhibit central principles and values of trust, flexibility, collaboration, and empowerment.
The important principles of agile projects include the following:
Simplify Project Activities and Processes
To build successful agile projects, you should keep things simple and reduce the time between understanding of work requirements and completion of project activities. Don’t do things that do not matter for the project, such as creating schedules of “busy work” that are prevalent in larger corporations.
Keep track of your team member’s activities and allow them track their work in a fun way by using project management tools.
Create Channels for Direct Interaction
It is a sad reality that communication has been removed from modern business operations. Team members that are merely rooms and cubicles apart communicate with one another through emails and instant messenger services.
If you want to reduce the time between a question and answer, promote a culture of face-to0face communication between team members. When teams work together, it is much easier to offer suggestions, ask questions and communicate. This leads to much quicker project completion.
Managers and Developers Must Be On the Same Page
Closer cooperation between team members and managers is crucial for the success of projects. Workers must be able to bring their concerns and work issues to the management’s attention easily.
Better communication tools and daily interactions are also great for building rapport. They motivate project members to put in maximum effort into the project and enhance productivity.
Flexibility is the key component that separates agile projects from traditional ones. Project activities, deadlines and resources are flexible for agile projects and can be changed or redesigned during any stage.
In certain cases, even the entire scope of the project can be redesigned in response to changes in the environment.
The project management must build methods that shorten the time between conception and implementation of important changes for the project.
Continuously Test and Enhance Project Deliverables
Another distinct feature of agile management is that the end product is not delivered at the conclusion of project but throughout the course of the project activities. After completion of each successful stage, the product is updated and the client is given an opportunity to test it out.
Implementation of continuous changes and product adaptation serve two purposes. First, it enhances the product quality. Second, it ensures that the client is aware of the progress and fully on-board for the product that is being created.
Focus on the Short Term
In general, the management’s focus for a project spans the entire length of the project from initial planning to final delivery. For agile projects, the management is focused on each successive state at a time.
The goal should be to reduce the time between planning and delivery of project deliverables. This means that the team spends more time on getting work done rather than planning far into the future. Focus on the short term improves efficiency and effectiveness of the project.
Build Work around Motivated Team Members
The agile project approach is to give team members complete freedom in being creative and pursuing project tasks as they see fit. Teams are allowed to be self-directed and complete work with innovative methods.
Greater autonomy leads to motivated team members who put in extra effort to complete project activities and keep things progressing smoothly.
When allowing freedoms to team members, there is a risk that projects might go off the schedule. The management should place some controls and step in to guide the team when it appears to be getting off track.
Promote Sustainable Development Plans
It is common for project teams to get burned out when they have been working on the same activities for a very long period. This happens more frequently for longer projects that run for months and years. The quality of work can also suffer and deteriorate after a while.
To prevent this from happening, the manager can assign work in short, productive bursts, followed by a period of recovery for the team. The project manager can also rotate work between different team members so that everyone gets a chance to apply varied skills.
The project manager must choose the right pace for each team member, depending on their capacity. Generally, the best pace for a team member is one that gives them enough of a challenge without feeling overwhelmed with work.
Avoid the Sunk Cost Fallacy
Agile projects are flexible and activities are always changing in response to environmental factors and client requests. Team members can become too invested in product features that they developed but are no longer necessary or part of the final deliverable.
Management should not wait to clean up redundant tasks or unnecessary activities. They should have a clear policy guideline for removing tasks that are not necessary for the successful completion of the project. This will help them save costs and allow successful completion of the project on schedule.
Continuously Review and Adapt
Project review and adaptation is a crucial element of agile project management. The team should continuously review how they can become more effective and improve the quality of final deliverables for the project.
If there is a better way of developing the project than the current plan, it should be discussed, reviewed and implemented to enhance the project result.
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