Managing a project. Sounds easy enough. In fact, why would you need to learn how to do something that requires no hard skill? You just need a great business idea, and voila, the rest will come naturally, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Many things can go awry when trying to achieve certain business goals. Distractions may cause a lack of team focus, a snapshot decision could lose you money, or poor communication could lead to a drifting of stakeholders.
That’s where the project management concept comes into play. We’re sure you’re familiar with the definition so we won’t go into detail here. But did you know there are over 8,000 different project management methodologies to choose from, depending on your business needs? Well, we’re here to talk about one that you have likely heard of but may not know much about: the Agile methodology. If you need to improve your team’s productivity, communication, and cohesion, this may be the method for you.
How Agile Project Management was born
Imagine this. You have a great idea for a new App, it’s unique, fresh and can solve current problems. You pitch the idea to key stakeholders in the software development industry and they love it. And then… nothing. Rigid delivery plans meant key deadlines couldn’t be met and by time delivery was feasible, the market needs had changed, meaning the project fell through, along with your great idea. Frustrating right?
Well, this was commonplace in the early 90s – alas, simply planning a solution to an identified problem is not enough. If your approach to tackling the solution is not flexible, or dare I say, agile (you see where we’re going), then you are left with very little wiggling room if the nature of the problem changes, as they often do over time.
And this is how the idea of Agile Project Management was born. Several software development leaders were realising this issue, and came together in the Winter of 2001 to change the status quo. What emerged was the ‘Agile Manifesto’, essentially a glorified handbook with the intent to document the purpose, principles, and values of the newfound Agile Methodology.
What does it mean to be Agile?
The Agile methodology has changed the way we manage projects today. In essence, it’s all about being able to change your direction and focus when needed. The methodology is characterised by the division of tasks into smaller sprints, usually involving short bursts of work where testing, reassessment, and adaptation is the norm throughout the process.
The four key values documented in their Agile Manifesto gives you an idea of the priorities when working with this method:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that the Agile method only values the things on the left! They value them all, but they believe the activities on the left are more fundamental and have been overlooked previously.
So, now you understand the core values of Agile Project Management, how do you know if this method is right for your business? Well, consider these key questions:
- Is your project likely to change in goals and focus over time?
- Are you willing to consider different solutions to problems that arise?
- Is speedy progress with your project more important than perfect results?
- Is your team self-motivated?
If you answered yes to any of these, you may want to incorporate the Agile methodology into your project management techniques!
If you want to learn more about how Agile methods are used in practice, you can attend our workshop ‘Get Agile in a Day’! We’ll provide you with clear and engaging demonstrations of how Agile methods are used in practice through group activities and personal reflection and we will also share some quick wins with you to help you get started on your Agile journey.
Our next session of ‘Get Agile in a Day takes place on 21st September, so if you want to find out how our organisation can become more agile, you can sign up here!
If you’d like to chat to us about Agile Project Management, give us a call on 01953 859100 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was written for Hethel Innovation by one of our marketing interns, Zara Krischer, through UEA’s Gateway to Growth scheme.