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January 11, 2019

What is Agile Project Management?

By Lenildo Morais, Project Manager

In order for projects to be successful it is indispensable to have a management methodology. In addition to the traditional and already consolidated possibilities, it is strongly recommended to resort to new alternatives. Among them is agile project management, which has special characteristics and should be considered.  It treats the adoption of methods that prioritize communication and an integrated action. With it, you can reduce development time and achieve a number of other positive effects.



How Does Agile (News - Alert) Project Management Work?

Agile project management is very different from traditional methodologies. It carries its main purpose in the name itself and refers to saving time in performing various tasks. More than that, however, the methods that follow the agile approach have an interest in bringing about a continuous development until the result is reached. For the methodology to work, its main characteristics are:

Interactivity

The Agile Manifest, which served as a reference to the methodology, is very clear in pointing out that development must be focused on the involvement and commitment of people. In addition to connecting with processes that may change, it is important that people are connected and working for the same purpose.

This creates intense interactivity. The whole team must work consistently to get good results, optimizing this feature. It is also essential that the customer is part of this interactive approach, ensuring that their expectations are met..

Iterative

The two concepts may look the same, but interactivity and iterativity are very different things. This has to do with incremental deliveries, which happen in short periods. In traditional management, it is common for stages to take place in cascades and for everything to be delivered at the end. With agile project management, it's different.

The idea is to seek continuous action on several fronts, with one phase generating influence in the other. In addition, deliveries are made in short periods. This ensures that the customer follows the whole process, rather than just evaluating the outcome.

Flexibility

Traditional management methods are extremely rigid. Once planning and scope are accomplished, work must be done to stay within schedule. With the agile features, flexibility is the watchword.

The team must be prepared for contingencies and changes as required. Often inclusive, this means discovering much of the project along with your progress. The preparation is more relevant than ever, since only then can we absorb these transformations.

High Transparency

In order for the client to be satisfied and for the team to succeed in execution, transparency must be maximized. Of course, it is very important in traditional methodologies, but with agile methods it gains even greater importance.

It is necessary, for example, that the team communicate properly, so as to guarantee the maximum understanding about what has already been done and what is still lacking. The client must be included in the process to follow and approve each step. The more transparent the management is, the easier it is to identify problems and their possible solutions.

What are the Key Agile Methods?

Because there are different needs, agile methods come in many forms. They can be tailored to each requirement, but ideally choose the one that makes sense for the project in question. All follow the principles presented above, but they manifest differently. Among the most used are:

SCRUM

SCRUM emerged in the 1980s and divides project development into cycles known as Sprints. They have a set time and are executed as deliveries occur. Each one has a specific planning, so that the actions to be executed are determined.

The meetings are daily and are called Daily Scrum. They allow the whole team to know what has already been done and what still needs to be done. At the end of the Sprint (News - Alert) there is a delivery, which is evaluated by the customer. The process restarts until the conclusion is complete. This is a highly focused approach to iterativity in a practical way, which generates a favored agile performance.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme Programming (XP) is a method that came about in 1997. It aims to especially help the development of software and other elements that involve programming.

The main pillar of this methodology is to perform tests, at various scales. It is important to review the steps, as well as continuously check the implementation. This brings security and quality, as well as improving communication. Another factor is simplicity. The idea is to create the most effective and simple solution possible, generating economy and quality.

It all starts with a planning game. During the execution, periodic meetings are held for the stand up meeting. The client must be present, the tests can be automated and it is fundamental to create standards for the coding, favoring the integrated work.

Lean

Lean culture is not necessarily a methodology. It is, in fact, a vision of how the steps should be carried out, aiming at reducing waste and ensuring maximum productivity. It emerged as a Toyota production philosophy, around the 60s.

In the case of agile methodology, it is necessary to think about issues such as continuous delivery of value increase, reduction of waste and increase of delivery quality. It also relates to postponing decision-making, so that everything is done with the backing of concrete information. Thus, iterations and daily meetings help ensure better performance. To increase their efficiency, it can be associated with other methods to make them even better.

How to Implement in Business?

The adoption of agile project management is inevitably a paradigm shift in the way teams take steps. That is, both the management and the team need to be prepared to take this leap forward in terms of developing stages. The objectives with the application of the method are easily achieved if the implementation is performed in the right way. To do this, you must perform the following steps:

Document Planning and Expectations

It is true that an agile approach is more flexible, since the interest has to do with quality and with incremental deliveries. However, this does not mean that its implementation should be carried out without any visibility or caution with what will follow. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out a planning of adoption of the methodology, establishing responsible, goals and expectations. Everything should be documented, facilitating the subsequent consultation, as required. Eventually, this will bring greater security to the process, ensuring that everyone knows what is expected.

Maximize Customer Communication

Whatever the methodology chosen, one element is indispensable: communication. There needs to be a major focus on this approach in order to improve integration and increase the quality of deliveries.

It is therefore imperative that the team is as integrated as possible and can exchange the information needed for success. The continuous meetings, even, enter into this question. In addition, the exchange of ideas with the client needs to be favored. He must be involved in the process on an ongoing basis as this increases quality.

Conduct Training to Empower the Team

Since this is a major change, it is only natural that the professionals are not yet fully integrated into agile project management. To overcome this barrier, training is indispensable. Exploring the chosen methodology, presenting the concepts and conducting a training on the subject are fundamental actions to obtain the success of the action. It is through this gain of knowledge that the team can be prepared to perform all tasks in a complete way. It pays to focus on practical training to improve the consolidation of concepts.

Conduct a Pilot Project

After going through these steps, it is recommended that a pilot project be conducted. That is, not to make the first project of this management already a very important for the business. Instead, a moderate level change must be conducted to be performed by that means.

With practice, it will be possible to identify the failures and difficulties of the team. Do not fail to make a complete measurement of the results to know the main bottlenecks.

To facilitate the process, it is recommended that agile project management be performed with the help of management software. Integrating and centralizing data is easier to make sound decisions. From this analysis, make adaptations and even new training, if necessary. In the end, the team will be aligned and prepared for good results.

What are the Benefits of this Approach?

If applied correctly, agile project management is extremely positive for the enterprise. It brings advantages to internal and external customers, impacts on how the business is seen and has to do with management's performance. Recognizing these strengths can be a great motivator for adopting the approach. Therefore, the main objectives of the approach are:

Increased Control and Quality

While dealing with unpredictability and flexibility, agile project management is all about visibility and control. In traditional, there is only a complete view at the beginning and at the end, moreover, development is not accompanied. With agile methods, in turn, you can track everything much more broadly thanks to incremental deliveries. Eventually, this means a higher quality, since problems are identified and solved with ease.

Reduction of Risks

Every project involves risks, be it financial, team mobilization or even customer experience. Management needs to lessen these factors in order to increase the security of the whole process. Fortunately, agile management manages to improve that. With greater control, development is less likely to get out of the way. In addition, there is broad adaptation to change and different needs. This increases the chances that the project will deliver the expected results.

Expansion of Customer Satisfaction

Meeting expectations is not only beneficial to the team. It also has to do with the customer and directly impacts your satisfaction. After all, when the owner of the process gets a delivery that meets their requirements, the satisfaction is expanded. With incremental deliveries and robust communication, agile management offers exactly that gain in the quality of experience. In the end, whoever hires a development team, for example, is more satisfied with the solution built. This has to do with meeting key issues such as time and budget, as well as the ability to adapt to needs, including those that arise during the process.

Increased Value Added

Projects executed according to this methodology obtain improvements in several aspects. They cost less, because reworking is unlikely to be required. In addition, greater customization avoids unnecessary spending. They also end quickly, precisely because the development is iterative and incremental. To complete, what reaches the client has more to do with their expectations and he participates in the whole process.

All this makes agile management work to increase the added value of both these elaborations and the business. As a consequence, even greater effects can be achieved.

Agile project management is a concept that has to do with the integration and the maximization of quality for the client. In this way, it can bring great results if performed correctly.

Why is Agile Management a Survival Factor for the Technology Market?

Novelties arise at all times, especially in the technological segments. Among the areas that most use agile management, the technology branch comes first, followed by financial services. Companies working in the midst of these innovations are constantly seeking to adapt to these changes. While these adaptations need to be made quickly, they need organization and communication, so that they bring the expected results to the project. In order to meet these essential requirements, many companies have come to see agile management as a great ally to stay and evolve in the marketplace.

In general, companies prioritize value delivery, product efficiency, safety and assertiveness, and using agile methodologies is the best solution. Several areas within organizations use agile management practices influenced by IT, such as the Human Resources department, which seek to reshape the sector.

It is by this need to make changes more easily that companies began to look for project management professionals specializing in agile management. Having the knowledge and experience with these techniques has become a differential when hiring.

As a result, many technology companies have implemented agile methodologies in service development to facilitate the incorporation of changes in the project scope and enable more dynamic interactions among people across diverse industries. Not to mention that developing the project in smaller parts generates a greater collaboration with the client not delivering only the final result.

Agile project management can be defined as the work needed to stimulate, empower and enable project teams to deliver business value quickly and reliably with customer engagement and continuous learning, adapting to changing environmental your needs.

Another positive aspect of agile management is decentralization. When the chosen method is already in place anyone can solve any problems quickly. Let's say that some collaborator goes on vacation, the other members of the team can move the activities, preventing a project from being interrupted.

It is important to emphasize that the main focus of these methodologies is people's happiness. After all, happy people work more engaged, for the sake of well-defined purposes. Agile management has many contributions to offer for professionals and businesses.




Edited by Erik Linask
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