Do you know what makes Agile so popular in project management? As per statistics, it is the flexibility of agile that makes it 37% faster and 16% more productive than the conventional project development model.
Agile does not follow the sequential execution mode of SDLC, neither it delivers the final product at the end of the project. Agile works on small deliverables, thus rolling back from an unexpected fault or adding new changes on the go is easy in this mode. And this is the real flavor of agile of flexible working!
But is it so easy to make an agile so flexible? Or what are those factors that work behind the flexibility of agile? Let’s have an overview of the reasons behind the flexibility of agile through this blog.
Agile Manifesto Values and Flexibility of Agile
The agile methodologies are based on the Agile Manifesto values. Interestingly, these values are instrumental in making agile flexible in project management. Hence, let’s have a look into the agile values that are commonly practiced in the industry. Also, we will discuss how these Agile values are important in the flexibility of agile projects.
The Four Agile Manifesto Values
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools – that implies human resources and communications among them are more valuable than process and tools used for the project purpose.
How does it help in a project? In any project, which is strictly process-oriented, it takes time when any clarification is required from teams/customers. On the contrary, if interactions and involvement of team members and customers are more prioritized than process, then open communication helps to resolve any issues faster and easier. This makes overall project execution flexible.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation – Project documentation is a time-consuming task which also needs enormous effort. Instead of documenting every work and seeking approval from the customer before working on it, Agile believes in meetings and interactions among teams.
How does it help in a project? Any modification or change request which comes through in the form of documentation is time-consuming and also needs multiple levels of approval before making it workable. However, frequent meetings with customers and teams help to expedite the process, which ultimately ensures a faster delivery and transparency in all levels.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation – Agile manifesto enforces customer engagement and collaboration throughout the project. This ensures continuous feedback from the customers and meets the project needs optimally.
How does it help in a project? In any project, the final approvers are the stakeholders or customers. Hence, if the complete project is delivered at the end without involving the customers’ in-between, it may create bigger challenges sometime. For example, if the final deliverable does not meet customer expectations, then a lot of rework will be required. This is one of the common reasons for scope creep. The above agile principle helps to avoid this problem and makes overall project work flexible for the team with customer collaboration in each stage of the project.
- Responding to change over following a plan – In agile projects, changes are accepted as the enhancement of the project.
How does it help in a project? Accepting changes during the execution of iteration is easy in Agile mode. Because in agile, small chunks of deliverables are considered in each sprint. Hence, any changes asked from customer end are considered as an enhancement of the project. Additionally, if the change cannot be accommodated in the same sprint, it is considered for the next sprint. This means we can use same bandwidth irrespective of extra requirement.
Want to know more about the Agile principles and values? Read our previous blog Factors to choose the right Agile Development Method.
So, if we consider the project management triangle which depends on three factors – Time, Cost, and Scope that are highly considered in the above-mentioned manifesto values. Hence, for an ideal agile project, budget, timeline, and scope remain fixed even if new changes are incorporated in the project. Additionally, it helps to maintain the delivery flexible with expected quality.
What is the Importance of Flexibility of Agile?
The main goal of agile is to adapt seamlessly as and when required without affecting the ability to deliver a project successfully. And that’s where the importance of flexibility of Agile comes into the picture. The enhanced technologies and marketing strategies nowadays have changed the business model. As a result, industries have to face evolving requirements frequently. During the execution of projects, stakeholders often ask project team to add new user stories depending on the changing market and business demands.
In a traditional waterfall model, this involves the increased investment and extended delivery date of the product due to the lack of flexibility. On the contrary, for the flexibility of Agile development, such changes are welcomed! You just need to add the user story to the product backlog and prioritize as per the product owners’ needs, and that’s it! Additionally, as the changes are performed in sprints, it is timeboxed, and cost can be predicted at the upfront. Thus, it helps to control the project management triangle perfectly.
Another important aspect of the flexibility of Agile is the scope of flexible contracting. In a traditional project, terms and conditions of the project contracts pin down the project deliverables. However, this works well if the project is a small one as the risk associated with such projects are less. But, in case of large projects, flexible project execution with small chunks of deliverables are best suited.
Also Read: Top 5 Agile Certifications
What are the Reasons Behind the Flexibility of Agile Project Management?
We have explained in the previous section how Agile Manifesto values relate to the flexibility of Agile. Let us explain some more factors of Agile project management which make it flexible.
Self-organizing and Cross-functional Team
Agile manifesto value stresses human resources over processes. Hence, in the agile process model, it is the team of developers who take responsibility for the given tasks. Consequently, during the development process, if any change request comes up, they handle it promptly. This not only the includes the development part but also the design and implementation of the product.
Smaller Chunks of Work Instead of Whole Work
Another reason for the flexibility of agile is its work breakdown structure (WBS). In traditional projects, it is difficult to measure the progress of the project until the final deployment of the product. It may take a few weeks to months. On the contrary, agile projects work on small deliverables. Hence, it prevents a considerable amount of ‘waste’ regarding work effort as an agile sprint may vary from 1-4 weeks or even a daily timeframe. Thus a team can handle the new changes fast. Also, this is a great benefit of the agile.
Planning Ahead for the Change Control Process
Agile project planning results in an agile contract. However, the planning process is more about the collaboration than contract as it involves the four key roles that are – Product Owner, Users, Scrum Master, and Software Developer.
In this way, the planning process establishes a robust platform for the change control process. It also maps the project process thoroughly and identifies the flexibility for incorporating late changes. Hence, it gives a clear picture to all the responsible roles of the project beforehand regarding the implication of the changes.
Transparency through Open Communication
Agile values emphasize to keep things transparent and easy as a part of team culture. It follows the first among the four agile manifesto values, i.e., Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. This is performed through
- Question-answer sessions
- Scrum calls
- Facilitating workshops
- Exploring tools and training
- Giving and Receiving feedback
This not only helps to understand the work but also the company culture. This helps to build the relationship among the team members. Besides, in an agile project, stakeholders or product owner is often available on-site which tremendously helps to resolve any clarity issue. As per the agile approach, clients need to be involved in prioritizing features, iteration planning, and reviews of the deliverables throughout the project.
Increased Visibility of the Project with Project Control Tools
In agile project management, the progress of the project is timely monitored using central dashboards like Jira. Hence, the team receives on-time support from the project management team, and the timeline is not compromised due to the fast response received by accessing the tools like Jira. Besides, it helps to identify recurring problems easily. It provides business strategy, avoids costly delays, and manages resources efficiently; thus helps throughout the project execution.
Provision of Beta testing
As the sprints in agile projects typically last between 1-4 weeks, so it is time-boxed, and in case any new feature is added, the team can deliver it quickly. Hence it is easy to analyze what is the impact of the new change on the overall product’ thus it is highly predictable. Also, the team can perform the beta testing on the software and release it earlier than expected. So, sprints are a key reason for the flexibility of Agile.
Also Read: Top 25 Agile Interview Questions
Scope for Constant Changing
The flexibility of Agile development helps to plan the changed backlog items for the next iteration. Also, it offers flexibility to introduce the required changes in the project within a short period.
Focus on the Business Values
In the agile project, clients can determine the priorities of the product features and schedule the sprints accordingly. Hence, high priority modules are queued first. As a result, it makes it easy for the team to identify what is most important for the business rather than focusing on the overall product features. So, based on the complexity and importance of the timeline and skill level of the resources are planned. This ultimately helps to deliver the high priority modules on-time without much hassle. So, the overall project execution becomes flexible for the team.
Easy Quality Control
Agile projects are broken down into small manageable units which helps the project team to focus on quality development, collaboration, and testing. Moreover, as clients organize reviews for each iteration, it helps to find and fix bugs quickly and thus, eliminates the possibilities of expectation mismatch.
Flexibility Comes with Reduced Risks
Agile values virtually eliminate the risk of complete project failure. As agile projects are executed in sprints, there is no chance that your project will fail completely. Additionally, it helps to know which approach is going to work and what not. Thus, it brings the flexibility in Agile development.
Though flexibility of agile is the heart of the project success, achieving it, in reality, needs a lot of practice and knowledge. Hence, to gain in-depth knowledge in agile development and project management, it is highly required to understand the working and benefits of agile.
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