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Agile Project Management

Understanding the Basics of Agile Project Management

The importance of project management is very crucial in the present times, considering the changing dynamics of the business landscape. However, project management is essential for addressing the requirements of time, budget, and scope of a project. With the increasing importance of project management, many project management approaches became popular over the years. One of the notable project management approaches is agile project management.

The agile methods for project management provide solutions to many inherent issues in modern software development. The following discussion will serve as an introductory guide for agile software development. Furthermore, the discussion would also reflect on the manifesto values and principles for agile projects and the different phases of agile development. Also, we shall reflect on agile certifications that can help in building a prolific career as a project manager. So, let’s start!

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Defining Agile Project Management

To understand what is agile project management, a simple lookup in the dictionary for the word ‘agile’ may be the first point in our discussion. Agile means flexible and responsive. So, agile project management is a project management approach that is responsive to the needs of customers. The flexibility of agile helps in addressing specific issues in contemporary software development.

The most prominent issues in this regard emerge in the form of falling behind schedule or exceeding the project budget. However, agile software development addresses noticeable setbacks that accompany conventional software development approaches. The conventional software development approaches include waterfall, iterative, or spiral project management approaches. These approaches need a comprehensive awareness of the application domain as well as the actual requirements of the client.

On the other hand, the comprehensive awareness of specific application domain is very rare. Also, customers generally request for changes in the course of the development process. So, uncertainty and irreversibility are common traits in software development. Agile development tries to address these two issues with the facility of support for changes in the development process.

History of Agile

The history of agile software development traces back to 1957 when incremental software development methods came into existence. Agile software development relates inspiration from the lean manufacturing concept that was popular in the 1940s. However, agile methods found comprehensive recognition in the 1970s with William Royce.

Royce published a paper on the development of large software systems which reflected on agile project management for the first time. However, the agile methods that we see today came into existence with the meeting of leading software developers in 2001. The group of leading software developers discussed various challenges they encountered. Ultimately, the agile manifesto was born. We shall outline the details of the manifesto later in the discussion.

It is important to choose the right agile development method for the success of your project. Check out the factors to choose the right Agile Development Method.

Agile Manifesto Values and Principles

Agile methods for project management involve the collection of requirements and discussing them with the customer. The discussion is not meant only for the beginning phase of a software development project. The discussion on requirements with the client lasts for the entire duration of the project concerning customer feedback.

The software development involves iteration and shipping the product at regular iterations to the client for evaluation. So, the primary focus of agile methods is on the outcome of the development process and value for the customer. Some of the notable examples of agile methodologies include Scrum, Adaptive Software Development, and the Dynamic Systems Development Method.

The advantages of agile project management are explicit from the approach followed for agile methods. So, how does agile provide an improvement over the traditional software development approaches? The answer lies in the Agile Manifesto values and principles that govern every agile methodology for project management.

Four Agile Manifesto Values

The basic idea of the manifesto is to provide insights into better approaches for software development. The manifesto outlines the aspects of project management which need attention over other aspects. Let us take a look at the Agile Manifesto values and principles for identifying the strong points in agile methods for project management.

The four values of the Agile Manifesto are:

  • Individuals and interactions have a higher priority than processes and tools.
  • Working software or the end product is important than detailed documentation.
  • Focusing on customer collaboration rather than contract negotiation.
  • Need for better responsiveness to change rather than following a plan.

Therefore, agile project management approaches tend to provide higher value to the customer due to the guidance of the manifesto.

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Twelve Agile Manifesto Principles

The twelve Agile Manifesto principles are the guiding principles for the methodologies included under “The Agile Movement”. The 12 strong pillars of agile methods for software development show the effectiveness of the new project management approach. The 12 principles help in fulfilling the basic tenets outlined in the agile manifesto. Let us shed some light on the 12 Agile Manifesto principles for project management.

1. The first guiding principle for agile development emphasizes the priority of customer satisfaction. It also reflects on the importance of rapid and continuous delivery for ensuring customer satisfaction.

2. The second guiding principle focuses on accepting environment changes at any stage in the development process.

3. The third principle refers to the delivery of product or service with higher frequency.

4. The fourth principle implies the need for close collaborations between developers and stakeholders regularly every day.

5. The fifth principle of agile project management refers to the need for motivation for stakeholders and team members. The motivation is mandatory for ensuring optimal project outcomes. Also, this principle focuses on providing teams with essential tools and support for accomplishing project objectives.

6. The sixth guiding principle for agile methods points out towards the efficiency of face-to-face meetings for ensuring project success.

7. The seventh guiding principle implies towards the classification of the final working product as the sole measure of project success.

8. The eighth principle of agile project management reflects on the role of agile processes in ensuring sustainable development. Sustainable development ensures that development teams and stakeholders can maintain a constant speed in the process.

9. The ninth guiding principle of agile methods for software development points out the improvement of agility. The principle focuses on proper design and technical excellence as credible instruments for enhancing agility.

10. The tenth principle reflects on the importance of simplicity in the agile methods for software development.

11. The eleventh principle refers to the effectiveness of self-organizing teams. Self-organization in teams helps in developing optimally efficient architectures and designs that cater to client requirements.

12. The final guiding principle in agile project management suggests the implementation of fine-tuning behaviors. The principle also focuses on the need for teams to use regular intervals for improving efficiency through fine-tuning behaviors.

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Different Phases in Agile Project Management

Now, the focus of our discussion shall turn towards the agile phases of project management. A detailed understanding of the different stages in agile approaches for project management could provide helpful insights. Agile approaches for project management involve five prominent steps. Each step in the agile methods for project management shows the transition of a project from a vision to the final product.

The phases are envisioning, speculation, exploration, adapting, and closure. Let us discuss each step of agile project management in detail as a highly supporting element for this discussion.

1. Envisioning Phase

It is the starting phase for agile methods in project management. Once a business case gets approval, agile key members play a crucial role in the envisioning phase. Agile methodology overview can show that agile key members engage in collaboration for developing a vision for the project. Also, the envisioning phase involves identification of key capabilities needed for the project.

Furthermore, agile key members also outline the business objectives and quality objectives for the project. Most important of all, the envisioning phase also involves the identification of the appropriate stakeholders and participants in the project. This phase also involves planning the approaches for the team to deliver a project.

2. Speculation Phase

The second phase in agile approaches for project management is speculation. In this phase, the product vision converts into a backlog of requirements. Furthermore, the stage also involves outlining the overall approach for addressing the requirements. Most important of all, the speculation phase also involves the presentation of a high-level release plan for the product. You can find two critical activities in the speculation phase.

First of all, the team has to develop an initial understanding of the project requirements. Then, the team has to break down individual product features into one or more parts for discussion and estimations. Also, the team should assign priorities to different product requirements for deciding on specific project workflow.

The second crucial element refers to the creation of a high-level plan based on milestones. As a result, the team could estimate the time required for creating all the required features of a product. The planning conducts at different levels such as wave level, release level, and iteration level.

3. Exploration Phase

The third phase is a common addition to every agile methodology overview. In the third phase, agile team members explore the different options for implementation and addressing project requirements. Work deliveries and testing are prominent activities in the exploration phase of agile project management.

The vision for the product takes the form of a release plan and then an iteration plan in this stage. The team takes a certain portion of the features of the product into a plan for iteration and subsequently moves towards development. The exploration phase is highly important for the next stage in agile methods for software development.

4. Adapting Phase

The fourth phase in agile methods for software development refers to adapt phase. The agile team evaluates different results of execution, existing situation, and performance of the team. The project plan and customer requirements are references for such evaluations. Based on the outcomes of the review, the team should adapt according to the requirements. Some of the notable activities in this phase include changes in project approach, project objectives, or the environment. A major portion of this phase deals with the collection of feedback, recognizing it, and introducing necessary changes accordingly.

5. Closure

The final entry in the agile phases of project management involves closure. In the close phase, the project concludes properly with an outline of the project’s key lessons. This stage implies the end of the project and reduces any concerns of perception issues for customers. Closure phase is highly significant because the inferences from the project can pass on to other teams. This clearly shows the emphasis on individuals and interaction as per the manifesto for agile approaches for project management.

Agile Certifications

The various elements in this discussion show the importance and productivity of agile project management. So, you can try for agile certifications to establish a promising career as a project manager. Let us take a brief tour of the top agile certifications. You can find agile certifications such as Certified Scrum Master, Certified Scrum Product Owner, Certified Scrum Developer, Certified Scrum Professional, SAFe Scaled Agilist, Professional Scrum Master, Professional Scrum Product Owner, etc. offered by different institutions.

However, the most popular agile certification is the Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The ACP certification validates an individual’s capabilities in various subsets of agile methodology such as Lean, Scrum, Kanban, and others.

Also Read: Top 10 Agile Books for Project Managers

Conclusion

On a final note, agile project management resolves major barriers in modern software development. The foremost highlight in agile approaches for project management is the ability to adapt a project according to the situation. Agile approaches derive productivity through these two elements, which reflect on addressing the major setbacks in traditional software development approaches.

Based on an understanding of the above discussion, agile methods for project management become successful based on guiding principles. Also, we can conclude that agile methodologies derive efficiency through the distinct phase-wise distribution of processes. If you are aspired to build a successful career in agile, choose a certification and validate your skills. Enroll now for our Agile certifications training courses and give your agile career a new edge!

About Neeru Jain

Technology Scientist by Mind and Passionate Writer by Heart!! With an enthusiasm for technological research and learning, Neeru turned out to be a technology expert. Her Belief: “Words are powerful enough to change Mind, Life, and the World; only the writer should have a real passion for Writing!!”
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