Agile project management methodology

From CEOpedia | Management online

Agile Project Management (APM) is found to be the most suitable for the present days unpredictable project environments, where the conventional methods’ approach of rigid project plans and designs cannot be supported. The key features of APM are flexibility, stakeholder engagement and value delivery which are based on the three principles underlying APM-embracing change, delivering part of functionality incrementally, reflecting and learning continuously.

Project management methodologies

The traditional focus of a Project Management has been the completion of a project within time constraints and cost limits with limited resources, delivering the outputs to the customers at the required standards of quality. Top Project Management Methodologies used are -

  • The Traditional, Sequential Methodologies
  • PMI/PMBOK "Method’
  • The Agile Family
  • The Change Management Methodologies

The Traditional Methodologies include - The Waterfall, The Critical Path Method (CPM),The Critical Chain Project Method (CCPM). The PMBOK Method is not a methodology but more of standards and conventions for managing the project. The Agile Framework includes - Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming and Adaptive Project Framework. The Change Management Methodologies include-Event Chain Methodology (ECM) and Extreme Project Management (EPM)

Agile projects are successful on the same level as the other methodologies but they face various challenges when being implemented. Some of them are:

  • Inadequate experience with the Agile methods
  • Organization structure and existing organizational borders
  • Procurement laws
  • Company values at odds with agile values
  • Scheduling the Project tasks
  • Monitor and control project scope
  • Improper Knowledge Management
  • People focused rather than process and plan focused.
  • Lack of predefined standards and requirements
  • Managing large projects and Distributed teams

Various actions can be considered to eliminate or reduce with the failures and challenges. These can be:

  • Selecting and Customizing the Right Methodology-Every Agile method has its own techniques. Some advocate iterative development and incremental release like Scrum and Extreme Programming. Lean and Kanban are continuous processes. The method should be used as per the organization and the project.
  • Use a Traditional Methodology with Agile Practice
  • Use Hybrid Agile approaches
  • Using Problem solving techniques as BART(Boundary Authority Role Task) to determine the root cause of problems that occur during Agile implementation.
  • The proper alignment of the different levels of management before any Agile Methodology is implemented.

An example of agile methodology in different projects

Project management methods can be used in all sectors; however, not every method can be used effectively and efficient in all projects. The same idea is with agile project management, it is mostly used in IT projects due to its flexibility and effective development process. It is easier to see the difference if we take two industries - IT and construction, and compare the usage of this technique.

The main issues and struggles are connected to the time of the projects and deadlines, budget, scope, involving of investor in the project.

The problems occur right at the beginning, when we try to implement agile to construction projects, as in agile there is no deadline. In agile project management, the team has sprints, what is 2-4 weeks period of time, in which the team is working on the specific tasks and produces the outcomes. The idea is that every new sprint the team adds new features to an existing product and the process of developing is infinite, as we can develop the new functions every new sprint. In construction projects flexibility is lower, as every new movement may increase the price and the deadlines. The phase of planning in huge projects is created in such way that some tasks are connected and because we have to produce a specific outcome, there are steps which have to be followed and cannot be skipped or mixed. We cannot start installing the doors in the building, before we build the main building. That is why we have to follow the plan and deliver the results, which are in the scope. Everything what is out of the project scope should be transferred to the other project or to be discussed with the investor, as it increases the time and budget.

Also, in huge projects there is no need and not always possible to meet with the investor every two or three weeks to discuss the progress. Sometimes it takes one month to get one task done, for instance to receive only the certification and approval from the local government. However, in Agile it is crucial to meet with the owner often and receive the feedback.

Therefore, the agile approach would be very ineffective and costly, as the main agile beliefs do not cross with the reality of huge construction projects.

Agile aligns the needs of the business with the software development and its success is apparent. Its projects are focused on the customers. It also encourages their participation and guidance. Due to this, Agile Methods and its principles has become a comprehensive way for the software development in the whole industry.

In development of software, a reasonable approach is being offered by the Agile in this highly volatile environment. It has been proved by the Agile Methods that when they are being applied under certain circumstances with projects having lower risks, the quality and the productivity of the team and the project increases. When the other agile principles are combined with these Agile Methods, a combined effect is produced which is greater than the sum of their separate effects. This provides a more acceptance for the goals, the ideas and the projects.

Software changes which are generally ungoverned can be very costly sometimes. Agile methodology is very useful as it can address these changes. But these methods are not appropriate for every project. To check the approachability of the Agile Methods, the characteristics of the project must be considered. Its impact on the project, the people and the processes should also be considered.

A management and development methodology is provided by the Agile Methods in software management which provides a very good support if the requirements are rapidly changing or are ill-defined. Even if it is questionable to apply these methods on certain projects, the Agile principles may be still be very effective. If there is a team which is available, able as well as capable of using these principles and applying them, then the usage of Agile Methods should be considered to be applied on these projects. Otherwise, traditional approaches should be used to reduce the risks.

Advantages of Agile project management methodology

Here are some of the key advantages of the agile project management methodology:

  • Increased collaboration and transparency due to more frequent and direct communication between stakeholders, which allows for better decision-making and more effective risk management.
  • Increased project visibility and control as it is easier to track progress and identify potential issues.
  • Flexibility to adjust project scope, timelines, and resources as needed, which can lead to more successful outcomes.
  • Greater focus on customer value and feedback, which allows for more effective product development.
  • Faster delivery of product increments, which allows for better customer satisfaction and quicker return on investment.
  • Improved team morale and productivity, as team members are encouraged to take ownership of their areas of responsibility.
  • Improved communication and understanding of project goals, which helps to ensure that all stakeholders are working towards the same objectives.

Limitations of Agile project management methodology

  • Agile project management methodology is not suitable for every project: Agile is not suitable for projects that require a high level of structure and predictability, such as those with large budgets, high security requirements and sensitive customer data. *
  • Agile methodology is resource intensive: Agile project management requires significant resources, including experienced and qualified personnel, to successfully implement the processes and practices. *
  • Agile methodology is subject to misinterpretation: Agile project management is often misinterpreted and misunderstood, resulting in ineffective implementations and failed projects. *
  • Agile methodology requires regular meetings: Agile project management requires frequent meetings to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that tasks are completed on time. This can be difficult to manage in a busy work environment. *
  • Agile methodology requires strong collaboration: Agile requires close collaboration between project stakeholders, including the customer, developers, and project managers. This can be difficult to manage, especially when project stakeholders are located in different locations. *
  • Agile methodology is not suitable for legacy systems: Agile project management is not suitable for legacy systems, as it requires a certain level of flexibility and adaptability which may not be possible in older systems. *
  • Agile methodology can be difficult to measure: Agile is not suitable for projects that require accurate and detailed measurements, as it does not provide a structure for measuring progress.

Other approaches related to Agile project management methodology

  • Agile Scrum: Agile Scrum is an iterative and incremental approach to project management that is used to manage complex projects. It is based on the principles of transparency, inspection, and adaptation. This approach encourages collaboration and continuous improvement, with the goal of delivering a minimum viable product to stakeholders as soon as possible.
  • Extreme Programming (XP): Extreme Programming is a software development methodology that is designed to ensure quality and customer satisfaction. It emphasizes the importance of frequent communication and collaboration between the development team and the customer. This approach also focuses on the importance of customer feedback and iterative development cycles to ensure that customer requirements are met.
  • Kanban: Kanban is an approach to project management that emphasizes visualizing the workflow and limiting work in progress. This method is based on the principles of Just-in-Time (JIT) production, which focuses on eliminating waste and ensuring product quality by limiting the amount of work that is in progress at any given time.
  • Lean: Lean is an approach to project management that focuses on eliminating waste and improving efficiency by streamlining processes. This method emphasizes the importance of customer value and continuous improvement.

In summary, Agile Project Management is just one of many approaches to project management. Other popular approaches include Agile Scrum, Extreme Programming, Kanban, and Lean. Each of these methods has its own strengths and weaknesses, and it is important to choose an approach that best matches the needs of the project.

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