our earlier blogs, What Is Project Management? and Words Used in Project Management, we looked at how project management is used to carry
out complex tasks and deliver change in an organisation, and at some of the
terminology commonly used.
we are looking at Agile Project Management, which offers a more flexible
approach to running specific types of projects.
When is Agile Project Management useful?
Project Management is a useful tool in a variety of situations, for example:
- When frequent
changes are required during the course of a project
- When the
project is developing in a fast-moving environment
- When those
directing the project are trying out new ideas
- When a
project is particularly complex and involves experimentation
- When a
project is urgent and needs a fast, flexible approach
How does Agile Project Management work?
is key. Those working on the project will usually focus on short bursts of
activity, followed by checking or testing and adjustments. This means that the
final result is often different from what was projected at the starting point.
new product development, this might involve testing with customers and making
changes in response to their feedback, to ensure that the final product meets
Where did the idea of Agile Project Management come from?
While the fundamentals of Agile Project Management are
not new, a 1986 article in Harvard Business Review – The New New Product Development Game by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro
Nonaka – compared developing new
products to a rugby game, where teams re-evaluate and respond as things happen.
Then, in 2001, the Agile Project
Manifesto, was created by a group of
software and project experts.
What is the process for Agile Product Management?
the principles of the article and manifesto mentioned above, Agile Product
Management uses a “scrum” and “sprint” framework, inspired by rugby games.
scrums are meetings and events where an expert “product owner” decides on
priorities and sources funding, with a “scrum master” managing the overall
process and a “team” to carry out the activities, working in “sprints” – short
phases of work.
planning meetings help the team to set a goal and assign tasks to deliver a
specific outcome in an agreed timeframe. The only focus should be on the goal
and each day there is a 15-minute meeting to assess progress, plan the day’s
work and discuss challenges. Teams are self-managed; communication can be in
person or via virtual meetings; and some teams may use social media groups to communicate.
After each sprint, team members meet with the product
owner and key stakeholders to decide what might need altering for the next
sprint. Then the scrum master will hold a retrospective meeting to decide on
any improvements to be made for the next sprint.
How does Agile Project Management compare with the
approach to project management has less flexibility built in. If applied to the
traditional model, the checks and adjustments used in Agile Project Management would almost certainly result in
higher costs and workload. Deadlines are likely to be missed and the end
product may no longer be relevant.
In Agile Project Management:
- Teams follow rules but are self-directed, rather than working to
detailed plans and being controlled by a project manager.
- The requirements of the project develop during the process, rather than
before the start of the project.
- Testing and feedback from customers takes place throughout the process
and is used to make changes, rather than happening near the end of the project.
- Scope and direction are assessed during the process, which makes it
harder to write the business case for the project, but ensures the end result
is relevant to customer needs.
Because of these
differences, Agile Project Management works
best in fast-moving environments, whereas traditional project management is
better for a more fixed environment and budget.