What is agile project management?


Learn more about the agile management philosophy and how it can help you achieve your project objectives on time and on budget.

Focus on project management methodology. Agile software development.
Image: Olivier Le Moal/Adobe Stock

Organizational development teams are required to manage a wide variety of tasks and processes throughout the project development lifecycle. Members must continuously make revisions and incorporate feedback into their operations to develop and deploy a project that meets the proposed objectives and satisfies customers’ demands.

SEE: Hiring kit: Project manager (TechRepublic Premium)

That said, managing a project can be a lot to handle, which is why many teams utilize agile project management as an iterative technique for their project development.

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What is agile project management?

Agile project management describes the approach to organizing and carrying out a project’s delivery throughout its life cycle. The non-linear management system breaks projects down into more manageable tasks that can easily be carried out and adjusted as necessary throughout the project life cycle.

In addition to allowing teams to easily complete tasks in smaller segments, the agile project management methodology simplifies the process of applying feedback and making revisions. As a non-linear system, teams can adjust their operations to comply with changes in consumer demand and desired project results.

Another core aspect of agile project management is collaboration. In order for teams to successfully carry out separate tasks and continue to revise their processes to improve their project output, team members must be able to communicate through each phase of the project life cycle. This way, teams can take an informed approach toward managing and adapting each area of their projects.

Benefits of agile project management

Applying an agile methodology to project management can provide various advantages to development teams that support the projects’ success.

Faster project completion and delivery

An agile project management system enables development teams to implement work processes that reduce the turnaround time necessary to deliver finished projects. By establishing clearly defined tasks and goals distributed appropriately, teams can avoid confusion and wasted time. Breaking projects into smaller tasks also enables teams to carry out incremental delivery of multiple projects faster.

Better teamwork

Teamwork and collaboration are necessary components of agile project management, especially as teams must revise their processes to adjust to changes in project scopes. Project managers maintain communication with customers and stakeholders to gain feedback which they then share with their teams to implement process revisions. This collaborative aspect of agile project management requires effective communication and can encourage improved teamwork skills.

More flexibility to make adjustments

Agile project management divides project development processes into smaller tasks that can be performed independently of one another. This makes it easier for teams to make changes to specific parts of a project’s lifecycle on an as-needed basis. Furthermore, the non-linear aspect of the methodology means that appropriate individuals can make operational adjustments that would not require the entire team to halt work on other projects.

Better risk analysis and management

Another essential aspect of agile project management is risk analysis. By carrying out the development processes in segments, team members can more easily identify risks within their steps of the development lifecycle and quickly address any issues. Additionally, the collaborative nature of this management structure gives developers more visibility into the project development, enabling them to detect potential obstacles quickly. This risk management process gives their projects a better chance of success.

Increased efficiency

Teams that utilize agile project management leverage each member based on their skills and specialties. Therefore, members increase overall team efficiency by applying their efforts and strengths to the tasks they are most equipped for. This project management approach gives project managers more control over the project development cycle, making it easier to respond to necessary changes and refine their processes for faster project delivery.

Agile vs. scrum project management

While the agile project management philosophy and the scrum project management methodology each support teams in project development, they are different. While agile is an overall approach toward project management, scrum is one of several agile methodologies used to manage project lifecycles.

Scrum describes a specific method used in implementing project management. This agile methodology subset represents a more refined project management process while still following the overarching principles of agile project management. The scrum framework breaks down projects into shorter delivery cycles called sprints and smaller deliverables.

Another unique feature of scrum is that it identifies specific roles for certain team members, like the scrum master. Whereas on the other hand, agile project management does not require distinctions for particular members and usually allocates tasks based on separate groups of individuals.

Agile project management examples

Agile project management can be implemented in multiple ways. Below are some popular agile project management examples that development teams use to produce and deliver their projects.

Kanban

Kanban is a project management framework that involves real-time collaboration and transparency throughout each area of the project development lifecycle. Development teams use kanban boards to visually represent and track their workflows, enabling all team members to easily keep up with the project’s progress. Through this method, teams can focus on improving their workflow, identifying and resolving workflow bottlenecks and limiting obstacles that could delay the project’s delivery.

Adaptive Software Development

This development framework relies on constant communication and collaboration with clients and stakeholders to support continued learning throughout the project lifecycle. Rather than following rigid plans and processes, Adaptive Software Development encourages teams to adjust their strategies to account for rapidly-adjusting situations that arise through the project’s development. The phases in adaptive software development are to speculate, collaborate and learn. In carrying out these phases, developers improve their understanding of the software.

Feature-driven development

Feature-driven development is a feature-focused and customer-centric project management framework. It is ideal for developing long-running projects that are designed and built based on the features that customers most strongly desire. Development teams using this framework should consider factors like the time needed to develop each feature, technical dependencies between features and risks involved in delivering each feature. Additionally, feature-driven development strongly relies on maintaining up-to-date development documentation for future use.

Extreme programming

The extreme programming methodology focuses on improving software technology and rapidly developing high-quality projects with frequent releases and revisions. Teams perform multiple short project development cycles to reduce the cost of requirement changes. The framework relies upon practices like code reviewing, code testing, integration testing and leveraging feedback, which enable developers to detect and resolve errors quickly to provide high-value software for customers.



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