Did you just came across the role of project manager and have realized that it seems impossible. And after dipping a toe in the IT field you have heard everyone talking about a sensation which has replaced Water Falls project management.
And it is considered a magical revolution in the field. Which is not only taking care of your demands while making software for you but also providing the finished product on time by keeping your budget a priority because it is working wonders for executives.
Are you are not familiarized with the very concept of agile project management? Then you are missing a very integral phenomenon which is being introduced in order to make your life easy.
What is Agile?
Agile methodology is introduced as the result of solutions to all the problems which experts were complaining. As they were working with waterfall project management.
Agile project management is actually a people-focused and results-focused approach, which is based on adaptive planning, self-organization and short delivery times. And keeps your budget in mind as well. With the rapidly changing universe, the demands are also changing every now and then. And in this time, the software world needs an approach which is flexible, fast and aim for continuous improvement in quality.
Agile project management approach:
Agile project management allows its managers to go an extra step and satisfy the executives with fast and accurate project status. And while keeping the communication between the project managers and the executives continuous, in order to have feedback and visibility of work. It becomes easy to deliver better software way faster as compare to any other approach in this manner. Delivering high-priority and high-quality work is the main agenda of project managers of agile.
Main Characteristics of Agile:
Agile project management is all about espousing changes because software projects change persistently. Even after finalizing the requirements, there is always an edge for new alterations or updates by the customers. So it important to deliver what they really want before they can test-drive the prototypes. It is about delivering the required features with the greatest business value, having real-time information to manage the cost, time and the requirements effectively.
Agile project management demonstrates the behavior of trust, flexibility, empowerment of clients and collaborators. As it has come a long way since its emergence in the field of IT in the 1990s. It impacts on the traditional cultures and introduces new ways of working on a project. To make it according to the demands of the clients.
Agile Project Management:
In software application development, agile project management is a methodology that foresees the call for flexibility. And focuses on the level of pragmatism into the delivery. It requires a culture shift before working. Because of its emphasis on the clean delivery in form of individual pieces of designed software. And not on the complete application all at once.
This methodology focuses on real-time changes and real-time feedback. And does not wait for the process to fail at the end of it. Just because of some small alternation at the very beginning of it. It depends on trusting employees and teams to work directly with the customers to understand what they are looking for. In order to generate solutions for them in a fast and imperceptible way.
As agile methodologies were developed as the solution of problems rose by waterfall approach, agile methodologies give more weight to the individuals over processes and tools. And working on software is way more practical for this approach than comprehensive documentation.
Continuous feedback is an integral part of this management approach. Then just working according to the plan which gives it a plus over all the other approaches in the market. It uses a short development cycle called “sprints” to focus on continuous improvements.
Software development methods were made public for the first time in 1957. And since then, the methods are improving every day. Experts raise problems. And as the result, the developers again start working to find a solution along with better and improved facilities to launch in the new version of methodologies. In 1970s William Royce for the first time wrote about Agile and that was published in a paper. It had in-depth information and research on the development of large software systems.
Introduction of Agile:
Later on, after many years, in 2001, 17 software developers published the Agile Manifesto. Which consisted of formal proclamation of four key values and 12 principles. To guide a people-centric approach to software development. These 17 developers generated composed, balanced outcome after a serious discussion based on their combined experiences. They lined up lightweight development methods. From these core principles, several agile methodologies have emerged. And that includes Scrum, extreme programming (XP) and many others.
Principles of agile project management
These are the core principles of Agile project management:
Just like any other business, the main priority is the satisfaction of customers. And that is obtained through not just by timely delivery. But also maintaining the procedure of continuous delivery along with feedback. After fulfilling the top priority requirements, first updating clients throughout delivery is also very important.
Open to changes:
Developing software requires constant changes. And even after finalizing the plan to work on, there can be any new update. Or any new desire of the client to tackle at any point of the process. So willing to tackle those changes and still focusing on quality is the main agenda here. No formal documentation and approvals are required to ask for changes from clients. According to customer’s competitive advantages. As the project managers offer the opportunity for constant communication. To look into the latest changes through fast responses in the external environment. In order to give a push to a competitive advantage to emerging opportunities.
The pace of work:
Providing quality with-in the assigned time period is the main key to Agile project management. Because it works on small deliveries. Instead of one big delivery of the complete project. Project team tries to deliver in every sprint. And it is the main focus of them to make sure that each feature they are delivering must be fully developed, tested, completely styled, and accepted by the clients before considering it as delivered. To focus on delivery of value, fixed time slots are assigned to team tasks with the fixed delivery time frame.
To keep all the team member including the clients on the same page it is very necessary to keep constant cooperation between them. So any update, any changes can be tackled and highlighted timely. Agile development principles include requirements and documentation lightweight. And acknowledging the constant changes is the reality in software development.
As developing software is not everybody’s cup tea. The same way while developing it, the whole team will not have the same aptitude. In an agile project management approach, an individual’s motivation is a priority. And every member of the team has the freedom of choosing the job according to their interest. As the result, projects are developed around self-organization. And members are not influenced by external management. Top-down mindset will never be a success in software development.
Face to face communication:
Many times the right tone of voice can save you a fortune. Don’t you dare, move and don’t you dare move! has the same exact words in their sentence structure. But the delivery of the sentence will decide. Whether the speaker wants you to move. Or not to move from your current location.
So real-time face to face communication plays a very important role in agile projects as well. Using oral communication can play an important role in osmotic communication. As the client and the project team can’t meet on a daily basis. So, conversations are facilitated via video conferencing.
Collocation and pair programming:
Collocation is collecting the number of teams in the same open area. While pair programming refers to two programmers sharing a single workstation. “Driver” is the programmer who handles the keyboard. Whereas the other programmer is called “navigator”. And he works on the programming tasks. And focuses on the overall directions. Both of these programmers shift the seats and swaps the roles every now and then.
Programming out loud not only helps in a clearer articulation of the complexities. And hidden details in coding tasks reducing the risk of errors occurring or going down blind alleys. But also yields the better dissemination and diffusion of knowledge between both of them. Better transfer of skills and a large reduction in coordination efforts is a huge plus of pair programming.
The sponsors, developers, and users are supposed to maintain a constant pace effectively. Agile methodologies pay a lot of attention on its way of working. And keeping in view the balance between the work and personal life of their project team members.
Promoting happiness and avoiding exhaustion is very important. In order to keep the level of creativity high. These methodologies avoid long nights and over shifts on weekends. Which helps to keep the whole team alert. And this way the team performs in the best manner possible.
Excellence through reflection:
Constantly improving yourself is the only way to stand out in a population of billions. Anyone who is working wonders in their field either doctors, architectures, designers emerges from self-organizing. The retrospective meetings are conducted in order to put light on the great work of team members in the same manner, at regular intervals. That helps them to learn how to be more effective. And then adjust the behaviors accordingly to excel. These meetings ensure that the lessons are put back into the next iteration successfully.
Adding the exact amount of every demand of your client in the exact proportion will make your content stand out in front of your clients. And only the quality of it is going to distinguish it from your competitors. There is a Pareto principle or 80/20 rule. Which says that only 20%of your efforts is going to decide the 80%of the results. So it is a very genius of you to work smart than to work hard. Putting all of your efforts in our 20% of work to get exactly 80% back is way profitable. Then trying to apply 90 to 100% of efforts to get only 50% of results. Focus on essentials to create value like components, process, etc.
The basic principle is that the team is more involved in the project. As compared to the manager or the head of the human resources department. So, they know best how to carry out the work. The team is completely self-managing under the Scrum methodology. It has the responsibility of meeting the goals of the sprint. And it also focuses on the ways to get the work completed.
Agile development knows requirements emerge and evolve. And no matter how many analysis you do before making the final design of drafts. There will always be a chance of changes happening at some point in the project. And clients can’t actually decide what really want. Until they see and use the software on their own. But always ready for adaption is also very much important. External conditions could also change. So going with the flow is very much integral in agile project management.
Types of Agile project management methodologies
One of the oldest agile methodologies is Extreme Programming.It is centered on frequent releases and short development cycles. Rather than delivering everything the user is ever going to need. Extreme releases small packages contain the set of everything the customer needs at the moment. It uses code review, pair programming, unit-testing and frequent communication with the customers. And in most cases, the developers prepare the test before creating the codes.
Another widely used methodology is Scrum. It is hand on a system which consists of simple interlocking steps. And components including, product backlog. And power-owners make those components. One small piece is being taken care of from the priority list at a time and it is called sprint.
Daily Scrum is a process in which the team completes the sprint in the assigned time period and also reports daily. The Scrum Master plays his role in keeping the team focus on the goal. In the end, the teams deliver a sprint and start working on the next one.
Scrum actually brings everyone on board which may include the stakeholders, to help in deciding the main features.
Here are some examples other than Scrum and XP. Like feature drive development (FDD), dynamic systems development methods (DSDM), adaptive software development (ASD), lean software development (LSD).
The definition of agile project management governance
In the field of IT and fast-moving technology-driven markets, the agile is here to stay for a long time. But just like any other thing of this universe, the agile project management also needs to be administrated. Agile governance requires you to find the right balance between the complete chaoses of no control at all. And the smothering of all agile benefits in overbearing governance.
A combined definition of agile project management governance would be:
Governance is the alignment of an initiative which can project, program or any product development with pre-defined goals to create value, governance is the explanatory element of how the initiative is being set up, managed and controlled.
Levels of agile project management governance
we can view Agile Governance through these few approaches:
Agile governance Transformation level:
Introducing something new in the company takes a while from higher authority to way down to adopt it. And start working in assigned manner. One simply cannot transform an organization to Agile without seeing any hurdle coming their way. It is very important to provide support for team members. As they are trying to encounter the challenge of adopting Agile at the transformation level.
There can be two main types of problems which will arise during the transaction. Proactively addressed problems might include training, coaching, and DevOps practices. Agile governance can identify other ones. And retrospective at the team level as well as one to one interaction with the iteration managers and coaches.
Agile governance at project level:
Defining the success criteria for each individual team beforehand is a much better way. To deal with the process of maintaining the success rate of the project. Instead of comparing the performances of teams. Because that is not going to be a big help. This will only lead to bad development patterns. There are more chances of risks than benefits in case of comparing the working of teams.
Agile governance at the team level:
Scrum governance methodology comes handy in case of team level. As it provides a set of useful governance metrics which needs to be adapted:
- Sprint planning
- Sprint reviews
- Team-based estimations
Good coaches can help the team without being judgmental. And that will produce way better results.
Approaches to agile project management governance
Generally, the main focus of traditional IT governance is on command-and-control. It is a documentation-based approach. Which teams adopt for proper functioning. And then follow the standards and guidelines set by the authorities. They have to produce consistent artifacts which they need to examine through “quality gate process”.
The prime focus is on artificial generations and reviews. For example, delivery teams have to produce artifacts such as architecture documents. Later on, they examine the designs under the architecture governance process. And pass through the quality gate as well. There is mismanagement between team working on these artifacts. It will make the governance go the opposite way around and perform exactly the opposite.
Lean governance, on the other hand, is a lightweight IT governance approach. That is based on motivating the IT professionals to produce what is best for the organization. And then they have to bring the fiction into reality. Lean governance finds the right path to follow to address governance areas. By focusing on risk mitigation and not on artifact generation.
In sprint governance, five main agile metrics play a role to govern the process across various levels. These are:
- task status pivot
- area wise progress
- remaining effort
- bug analysis
Using these governance metrics will help in finding out the exact state of the sprint at any given point.
The world is changing rapidly and competition is increasing in every field of life. With the boom in technology, the market is expanding for the software developers. But agile is one approach which has numerous benefits but limited drawbacks. With the shifting of other companies to the digital workplace that is highly dependent on speed, flexibility and increased productivity.
The demand for agile methodologies will become even more in the coming future. Agile adoption rates will keep on increasing in the industries across the world. Because of its application in multiple industries and alignment with benefits offered in the digital workplace model. So shifting to agile project management at the right time with proper governance will be a huge win in the longer run.