Steps for Implementing Agile Project Management

Aug 19, 2019 | Project Management

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Photographer: David Travis | Source: Unsplash

Agile project management is a dynamic approach that is used to design and complete projects more effectively. The client is made a central part of the control process with each successive stage getting reviewed and feedback from the client.

The project is completed through incremental development steps where project scope and deliverables evolve through a joint collaboration between self-organized teams. The agile project management style is seen as an improvement over traditional project management style. It is the norm for product design in fast-paced, technology-intensive industries.

In this blog post, we will review some of the important steps for implementing agile management for your projects.

Implementing Agile Project Management

Implementing agile management is all about creating a rhythm for your project. When you have multiple planning cycles that are inter-dependent on each other and evolve over time, your teams will need to be guided closely to stay on track. It is the project manager’s job to have look at the bigger picture and ensure that everyone is working together smoothly.

Since agile management is quite flexible, there is no single set of activities that define how to go about implementing it. It is a mix of continuous planning, execution, review, learning, and enhancement. However, the following 7 steps that can helpful in implementing agile project management more easily.

1. Set Up a Project Vision

To start off, you will need to define a clear business need or goal or vision that your project will accomplish. In essence, you need to assess why you are you’re starting the project and what you hope to achieve. The vision sets the big picture and becomes the core belief that you will refer back to as you build the project.

2. Create a Roadmap for Project Activities

Once your goal is identified, you will need to translate the vision into a working, practical product and make a roadmap for it. You will have to take a top-down view of the project requirements with a loose timeframe that identifies when you will develop each of the component parts.

The ‘loose’ part is important here. Unlike traditional projects, you are not going to spend days or weeks laying out plans for every step of the project. You will simply identify, prioritize, and create a rough estimate of the efforts that you will put into each piece of your product. The details will come later as you work on each stage of the project.

3. Establish a Governance Body

Every project has risks, problems, and impediments that can cause delays or increase completion costs. Potential risks must be tracked and there should be a plan to mitigate them.

Resolving problems often requires communication with important stakeholders such as the client. In the case of inter-organizational projects, the project manager must speak with organizational leadership (executive sponsors) and have a framework for communication.

Close collaboration and two-way communication is the key element of agile projects. It is imperative that a governance body is established to reduce risks and successfully implement changes.

The project manager must establish a tight but lean governance structure composed of key stakeholders. It must have clearly defined procedures for prioritization and resolution of any changes or problems that could potentially derail the project.

The project manager must also make an effort to implement a communication structure with the help of digital tools. These can include one-on-one points of contact for all impacted stakeholders and sponsors who are visible and accountable.

4. Define Your Sprints (or Iterations)

From a naming brainstorm at a talk
Photographer: Patrick Perkins | Source: Unsplash

In order to achieve the end result, the project tasks should be broken up into individual iterations – or sprints. Typically, a sprint lasts between 1 and 4 weeks and should be of the same length of time throughout the entire project.

Whether you choose a 7, 14, or 30-day “sprint”, decide what the total timeline for the project is going to be and what specific tasks will be completed during each sprint. You will also need to assign specific people to each sprint.

This will make it easier to implement incremental progress while still tracking project dependencies and risks. Completing the project in sprints will improve your team’s efforts to oversee the project and manage changes effectively in the long run.

5. Hold Daily Stand-Up Meetings

For every sprint, you will need to ensure that there are no roadblocks getting in the way of your teams’ ability to finish the project on time. This is where daily meetings, or “stand-ups”, can be useful.

Stand-ups will allow you to improve communications for the team members and enhance the probability of successfully completing the project. Each day, try to hold a stand-up meeting of 15-minutes, ideally at the start of the day.

The daily stand-up gives an opportunity to every member of the team to discuss what they did on the previous day and go over the details activities planned for the day. It allows them to identify what roadblocks they foresee for the future and the information they may require from others to complete their tasks.

6. End-of-Sprint Review

Once everything has been completed according to plan, the project manager must review what was accomplished during the sprint. Some projects move at a quick pace and considerable changes can be made for every single sprint. Others progress at a slower speed with very little changes accomplished during each sprint.

Don’t jump immediately into the next sprint after completing one. Both you and your team members need time to reflect on what went well and why, and what didn’t go according to plan. This process of review adds a continuous learning cycle to agile projects and helps contribute to the future success of the project sprint activities.

7. Record Your Sprints

You should make the sprint achievements – and shortfalls – a part of the project record. This will make it easier to keep all the concerned stakeholders informed of what is going on.

The records can be shared with members of the project team, investors, top management or anyone else within the organization.

Make sure all the parties that are directly affected by the project are kept informed about what has happened, what is going on at the moment, and how the project will progress in the future. They should also be informed about how future sprints will impact them.

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