One of the popular methods to manage projects within the software industry is "Agile". It is a management approach tried and trusted by managers for use across teams.
The agile method has its origins from a conference in Utah, United States and is in use since 2001. It has become an industry standard as it puts a lot of focus on continuous improvement. As of today, it finds application in a diverse set of industries.
Let us define what Agile project management means?
Agile is a method designed for control over projects. It consists of short delivery cycles called "Sprints". The method allows for rapid changes and flexibility in work. It helps teams adapt to changes and improve performance.
The Agile method is in use for the following work profiles but at the same time not limited just to them. It is applicable for:
Agile projects involve real time communication, increased adaptability and collaboration. They deliver an end product that is of high quality. So it becomes necessary for agile projects to have the best management.
We present seven pointers to help you manage agile projects in a smart way:
As an agile manager, it is necessary to get the backing of the top management. They have a lot at stake as they commit time and money towards the resources to get a project. This means that you are keeping the leadership in the loop about the different aspects of the project. From planning, documentation and release, everybody is aware of the changes. It is of benefit when all the stakeholders are familiar about the changes in the process.
Before you start work on any project, spend time planning and laying out the work sections. This will help you have a clear idea of the different stages of work and what you need to execute them. There will be teams associated with many projects and the agile method is most helpful to them. A tight schedule and a proper plan help to answer any kind of questions or issues at a later stage.
The project scope covers all the amount of work for a specific project. When you are about to set the schedule for the team, keep in mind the ability and needs of the team members. Teams must be in the loop about the need of the client and the time required to complete the work. The work must continue even when some emergency situations arise for team members. Keeping a constant track of the work schedules will enable making key changes to the projects.
For a project manager, there will be two sets of customers. The internal customers within the company and the external customers who are the clients. If you have a team working on a project, as a manager you have to devote time to listen to their ideas and grievances. The communication between the leadership and workers should be open. It should be easy for a work resource to clear his/her work schedule with easy access to the leadership. The same principle applies to the clients but in another context.
The development cycles in a project get completed one at a time. In normal circumstances, the client gets to know about the product when it is ready to deploy. The client is unaware about the details and the hard work done by the team. It is advisable to let the client know when a project cycle is complete and what is the status of the product. This will help build trust and confidence in the client. It will let them know that your interest in their vision and need is genuine. When you share updates with clients, you will always have their attention.
Some projects need managers to involve the team and clients. There will be other units involved like third party software providers. In such cases it is always better to follow the agile practices. Clients may require new features to be added in the project at the last minute. Sometimes due to market pressure, the clients can opt to cancel the project. The project scope can change midway through the work and it needs planning and approval. In these situations, the teams and providers need to re-align their existing strategies. The changes can be in documentation, terms and conditions, project scope and the likes.
The projects gets delivered on time only when the scope and schedules are in sync. Clients feel the decision to hand the project for development is good. This builds trust between the service provider and the client. This has the potential to convert into repeat business and bring in new projects. When this success reaches the team, it gives them a sense of achievement and motivates them to work more. As a manager, it is important to build the trust factor with the team members and clients. It is the secret ingredient to hold the agile project together.(Psst! We did not tell you that)
These seven pointers can help you manage your agile project and deliver outstanding results. The agile management is fast, iterative and a smart choice for today's project managers.