When an organisation plans to start a project, there’s a need to adopt an effective framework to ensure the project is managed successfully.
For this reason, most organisations opt for the agile approach. Agile working may seem like a business buzzword, but it is actually an iterative way to complete tasks in a complex work environment.
In this article, you’ll learn how to adopt agile processes in your organisation, how the agile way of working differs from traditional project management and the characteristics that underpin an agile organisation. Before we begin, let’s look at the agile way of working.
What is the Agile Way of Working?
The word “Agile” simply means the ability to move quickly. When applied in the context of project management, agile working involves team collaboration, frameworks, processes and the use of technology to find the most appropriate way of working to carry out a particular task. With agility, a company can identify impediments or changes at an early stage and adjust to them accordingly and quickly. In other words, a team can work with more flexibility at a faster pace within the timeframe and budget of a project.
Characteristics of the Agile Way of Working
As we mentioned earlier, an agile way of working enables teams to work more efficiently in the best way possible. However, there are different ways companies approach agile working. In this section, you’ll learn 4 characteristics that underpin an agile organisation.
Organisations that apply an agile way of working are transparent in the way they work and communicate. The agile approach to project management enables an organisation to have a shared understanding of their work progress by integrating information radiators such as Kanban boards.
As a result, team members can know what work is being done and how it is done at every stage of the project. This level of transparency helps to create a unified environment where team members can accept their errors and collaborate efficiently.
Another important characteristic of agile working is the ability to adapt to changes throughout the project lifecycle. The fact that the agile approach enables teams to break down one big task into smaller time-boxed sprints creates room for adaptability. At each stage, a team can deliver value to the product owner, obtain feedback and make improvements throughout the project lifecycle. The goal is to obtain changing customer requirements, make changes and prevent any significant delays at the end of the project delivery.
An important aspect of agile approach is that it is customer-focused. It’s not just about building a solution, it’s also about ensuring that your product can solve your customers’ problems. This means that agile project management involves frequent customer collaboration with the aim of increasing efficiency. For example, feedback loops during agile product development enables customers to experience the product and solve their problem in real life. As a result, there’s a reduced wastage of time and resources.
When it comes to flexibility, you may think remote working, working four times a week or maybe resuming work earlier or later in the day. However, flexible agile work processes entails the ability of a team to adopt new technologies and respond to change as quickly as possible to improve product efficiency.
How the Agile Way of Working is Different from Traditional Project Management
Traditional project management and agile project management are two contrasting processes, each with its own pros and cons.So, it’s important to understand the attributes that differentiate them.
Traditional project management involves a linear approach and depends solely on upfront planning with little customer involvement. In this approach, the product manager is in charge of the entire project and is accountable for the product delivery.
Agile project management on the other hand, is an iterative approach to project management that enables a team to collaborate effectively, be flexible and obtain customer feedback for improved product development. Ideally, the agile framework breaks down a project into smaller time boxed sprints that enables a team to make changes during the product life cycle.
Having a knowledge of both methodologies, you may ask yourself what process is right for you. The agile framework allows for more flexibility and is more aligned with the current needs of the modern industrial environment. However, the best way to decide is to consider the team dynamics, scope, budget, etc. of the project that’s to be developed. Then you can pick the right methodology.
What are the Basics of the Agile Way of Working?
The 12 key principles of agile project management were created back in 2001 where there was a need for an improved approach to helping organisations be more flexible, adaptable and productive.
They are as follows:
- Satisfy customers through early and continuous delivery
- Create room for adjustments late in the project
- Deliver value frequently
- Break the silos for your project
- Build projects around motivated individuals
- The most effective way of communicating is through face-to-face interactions
- Working software is the primary measure of progress
- Maintain a sustainable working pace
- Continuous attention to good design improves agility
- Apply simplicity when implementing agile
- Self-organising teams bring the most value for the customer
- Regular reflection on work enables a team to be more effective
Benefits of the Agile Way of WorkingNo doubt, an agile framework can provide tremendous benefits to an organisation. Here are some of them:
- Reduced risks
Agile framework involves time-boxed sprints that enable a team to make necessary changes during the product life cycle. As a result, there’s reduced risks of creating a product that may not be in line with the customer’s needs.
- Improved team performance
Since agile teams are self-organized, they have full control over their choices. The team also collaborates more efficiently when they rub minds regarding challenges and project statuses.
- Greater customer satisfaction
In agile processes, the customer is involved in the decision-making process of the product development. As a result, product teams can make changes according to the customer’s feedback. This ensures that they deliver value to the customer and the final product matches the customer’s needs.
The agile way of working is a sustainable and effective way of managing projects. In the complex, ever-changing work environment, an agile approach can help you and your team be more flexible, effectively manage risks and projects.
Learn more about how you can manage the complexity of modern projects. The 4th edition of Project Management Essentials You Always Wanted To Know provides accurate and authoritative information on project management best practices.