Hello everyone and welcome to the Cognixia podcast – your favorite place to learn about the latest happenings in the tech space and get inspired to take that next big leap in your career. Every week, we gather to discover something new in emerging technologies and unravel new opportunities to learn, grow, and excel with digital transformation.
This week we turn to a topic that has been very popular for quite some time but we have often found that not everybody has a good thorough idea of it. To remedy that, this week we talk about agile project management, giving you a quick primer of sorts, so you are fully equipped with everything you need to know about the concept – what it is, what are its benefits, and some examples. Powered by this, you can ace and accomplish a lot in both project management as well as the Agile space.
So, without further ado, let’s get started, shall we?
Let’s first talk about what is agile project management.
Agile project management is a non-linear approach to organizing and carrying out the delivery of a project through its lifecycle. This approach involves breaking larger goals into smaller tasks that are more manageable, easier to accomplish, and simpler to tweak & adjust as required during the course of the project. This enables teams to accomplish the smaller tasks quickly and easily, compared to taking the pressure of accomplishing bigger, more ambitious goals which would not just take more time and effort but can also get tedious and tiring. Breaking the bigger goals into smaller tasks also helps corrective action and mitigation measures can be implemented sooner, ensuring adjustments get made to keep up with any errors made, changes in consumer demands, scope change, or change creep, etc., and continue moving towards the desired project outcomes.
Apart from this, agile project management encourages collaboration. When a bigger goal is broken down into smaller tasks, there are a lot of different people and different teams who would be working on these smaller tasks, which would together influence the overall outcome of the project. Most times, the tasks accomplished by one team would help another team accomplish their task or influence their outcomes in some way since the smaller tasks would be correlated, being a part of the same bigger goal. Similarly, adjustments and improvements would also often be dependent on the work of other teams as well as their inputs. To be able to do all this, teams need to have good communication between them across every phase of the project lifecycle. It would also necessitate collaboration among the teams to accomplish the tasks.
So, now you know what agile project management is and what the approach is all about. Now, let us dig a little bit into the benefits of agile project management, shall we?.
The Benefits of Agile Project Management
Quicker Project Delivery
One of the foremost benefits of agile project management is that it helps achieve faster turnaround times. With agile project management, there is usually a very clear distribution of tasks and responsibilities, a clearly defined accountability structure, defined timelines, etc. which keeps things organized and smooth. This, in turn, avoids confusion and prevents the wastage of precious time and resources. All of this together contributes to quicker incremental delivery of the project tasks.
As we mentioned before, agile project management encourages collaboration and we all know that collaboration cannot be achieved without effective teamwork. With evolving project scopes, teams would need to realign their goals and tasks to keep up with the changes, necessitating effective teamwork. There would also be a need for maintaining smooth and clear communication with stakeholders as well as customers, to get timely feedback, as well as keep them updated.
When the goals are broken down into smaller tasks, there is increased room to make changes and adapt to changing requirements & scopes. The system can now absorb changes better. Even if there is an error, there is room to course correct it in time. If mid-way through the project if there is a total change of scope, losses are minimal and corrections can be quicker. Moreover, since the approach is non-linear, operational adjustments can be incorporated without having to halt the work completely to change course.
Focus on Risk Management
When a larger goal is broken down into smaller bits and assigned to different teams, there is a greater focus on every small goal. When there is greater focus, any loopholes or potential risks can be identified and assessed quickly, and a corrective measure also can be implemented immediately. With greater collaboration in agile project management, there are more eyes on every task, ensuring nothing goes unnoticed and nothing escapes being addressed. When risks can be identified and nipped in the bud, goes without saying, the chances of success go up.
Instead of a large, tedious goal, when teams are aligned to work on smaller tasks, team members get a chance to work with their strengths and deliver their best. Every team member can focus on tasks that lie in their area of expertise and everybody gets to deliver their best work for their respective goals. The project manager is also better placed and gets more control over the project outcomes as well as the project development lifecycle, giving them opportunities to monitor the process minutely as well as implement refinements for successful delivery.
Is Agile Project Management different from Scrum Project Management?
This is a common confusion among people; however, we would like to clear it up for everyone. While agile project management and scrum project management can sound like they mean the same thing, they are not. Both methodologies are designed to support project management teams, but there are slight differences between the two. While agile project management is more of an overall project management approach, scrum project management is one of the several agile methodologies that are used to manage projects. To explain a bit more, look at it this way. Agile is an approach to project management, and Scrum is a subset of the methodologies deployed in the agile approach. Both involve breaking a larger goal into smaller tasks or deliverables.
We hope this helps clear up the confusion between agile project management and scrum project management.
Moving on, let us give you some examples of agile project management.
Examples of Agile Project Management
Chances are you have heard of Kanban at some point. For the uninitiated, Kanban is a project management framework that encourages real-time collaboration and transparency in every area of the project development lifecycle. Kanban boards are used by development teams for a visual representation of goals, tasks, etc. and to track their workflows. The approach is designed to help teams improve workflows, identify and dissipate workflow bottlenecks, and overcome obstacles in project delivery.
Adaptive Software Development
Adaptive software development is a development framework that involves constant communication and collaboration with stakeholders, customers, etc. facilitating continued learning throughout the project development lifecycle. It requires teams to move away from rigid plans and processes. The framework helps teams tweak their strategies for fast-paced, rapidly-changing situations that are commonly encountered in a project lifecycle. Remember, the three key steps of adaptive software development are speculate, collaborate, and learn.
Feature-driven development is also a project management framework that focuses on feature- and customer-centricity. The framework is especially useful for long-running projects, especially the ones that revolved around building features in response to strong customer demand. The development framework especially factors in the time taken to develop every feature, the technical dependencies involved in building those features as well as the different features, the risks involved in building and delivering the demanded features, etc. This framework also makes it very important for teams to maintain accurate, up-to-date documentation about everything not just for the use of customers and stakeholders but also for the future use of the development teams.
Extreme programming is a project delivery methodology that emphasizes the improvement of software technology and facilitates the quick delivery of high-quality projects, especially the ones that involve frequent releases and revisions. The cost of requirement changes is kept in check by running multiple short project development cycles. Common practices adopted under the extreme programming methodology include code reviewing, code testing, integration testing, and leveraging of the feedback received from stakeholders and customers. These techniques help detect bugs and resolve errors quickly while being able to deliver high-value software for the customers.
These are some of the top examples of agile project management. These methodologies, frameworks, and approaches are built on fundamental agile principles and are immensely useful in different scenarios.
We hope this helps you get a better understanding of what is agile project management and how it is used.
And with that, we come to the end of this week’s podcast episode. We hope you now have a much better understanding of agile project management and it will help you with your work or inspire you to learn more about it. You can enroll for Cognixia’s live online instructor-led project management training and certification course or you can also sign up for our Certified Scrum Master training, which is also live online and instructor-led. Visit our website www.cognixia.com to learn more about our course offerings, upcoming schedules, and current promotions. Stay tuned for our next episode for more exciting content from the world of emerging technologies. Thank you for tuning in today.
Until next week then, happy learning!