What is Agile project management? Step by Step Guide to Agile Project Management
Agile is the most popular and effective project management approach. 71% of companies are using agile, and several Fortune 500 companies are also interested in implementing agile.
Teams implementing an agile project management approach can adapt to change, optimize their workflow, and complete tasks 50% faster. In fact, according to Smartbear, agile teams are 25% more productive than non-agile teams.
The agile project management approach was initially created for software development teams. However, at present, it can be adopted by anyone or any industry- IT teams, marketers, Sales, Finance, Healthcare, production, and many more.
According to Zippia’s research, the agile approach is used by 82% of the production & operations industry, 79% of the customer service & support industry, and 78% of the HR, Finance, & administration industry.
What is Agile Project Management?
The adaptive approach to building and managing projects is known as Agile project management. Agile project management breaks down a large work into small manageable tasks. These small tasks are completed in iterations throughout the project life cycle.
In agile project management, projects are built over time instead of delivering a finished project at the end of the project life cycle. For instance, a beta version is released in product development to test the product’s features before launching the final product.
One of the most popular and effective agile project management strategies is Scrum. Like agile is a project management style, Scrum is a framework to follow that style. In a survey, 61% agreed to use Scrum as an agile framework.
What are the Essential Components of Agile Project management?
Simply put, a user story is a written description that documents users’ needs and goals. An example of a user story is:
“As a team leader, I need to receive an email when a task misses the deadline.”
In traditional or waterfall, project management teams create a technical specification of their plan or goals. On the contrary, in agile project management, the team only creates an outline of the user needs. Then, during the iterations, the team members focus on effectively fulfilling those specific needs.
Iterations are short cyclic processes that take 1–4 weeks to complete. After each iteration, the team reviews the project to see what’s working and what to improve. Once they finish the iteration review and retrospective, they move on to the next iteration.
Daily stand-up meetings ensure that everyone in your team is working efficiently; the daily meetings also help to track the project progress and keep the stakeholders and team on the same page.
The agile board helps the workforce track their project progress. Examples of agile boards are- task boards, project management software, or kanban board.
A backlog is an organized list of prioritized items or deliverables of a project. The project backlog lists down all the tasks your team needs to complete.
What are the Roles of the Agile Project Management Team?
Now that you’ve known everything about the key components of agile project management, let’s take a quick glance at different agile team roles:
- Agile Project Manager — The project manager must ensure that each iteration completes successfully. They help to resolve any challenges that may arise during each iteration. The project Managers responsibility is to define the goals of each iteration with team members, manage the project backlog, prioritize items, and act as the voice of the stakeholder or customer.
- Team members- Team members perform every task on each iteration to deliver working features.
- Stakeholders- The stakeholders of the projects must be kept aware of the project and iteration goal. They should be able to review and provide feedback during the iteration review.
Every agile project management method has its own sets of teams and responsibilities. But, what stays common in each method- is the characteristics of an agile team. Some examples of agile team characteristics are:
A Step-by-Step Guide to Agile Project Management
Here’s a step-by-step guide to understanding what agile project management looks like in practice:
Understand the Problem
In agile project management, learning what your customers or clients need is crucial. First, you have to understand what kind of problems they are facing. What are their expectations?
The primary purpose of agile project management is to keep the customers in mind. And to understand your clients better, you may take online surveys and conduct market research or interviews.
Assemble the Team
Once you’ve realized the needs and problems of your customers, it’s time to build the right team—a skilled and efficient team to solve your customers’ problems.
To build an agile team, you can assemble people from various departments or bring in external people. Or, you can train your existing team members to develop their skill sets to solve the user needs.
The core principle of agile project management is that team members should participate in the planning or brainstorming ideas.
In this step, teams should discuss what features can address the user problems. For example, what components will make your service/product more user-friendly? In short, brainstorming any ideas related to the project should be encouraged for effective project management.
Build and Initial Prototype
The next step in agile project management is to build a rough prototype. After all, agile encourages flexibility and creativity.
Showing an initial prototype to the customers will help your organization get valuable feedback. If you get any negative feedback, use it to make improvements and build another prototype that aligns with user expectations.
The best part about building a prototype is that you get an overall idea about what’s working and what’s not before completing the project. Without a prototype, you’ll waste your time on a project that won’t get appreciated by your clients in the end.
Decide the Project Scope
Based on the feedback, you can decide how much work you must do. In addition, you can add or remove features from the project based on the feedback.
Make sure to create a documentation process for updating what needs to be added or removed as the project progresses.
After this step, you’ll also have to plan project milestones using a roadmap. Then finally, you have to determine the deadline of each milestone for efficient project management.
The next step is Iteration Planning. Iteration planning generally lasts between one to four hours. Here’s how you can do iteration planning in agile project management:
- First, arrange a retrospective meeting to discuss the lessons you’ve learned from the previous iteration.
- Conduct iteration planning meetings to measure and update the release based on the velocity in recent iterations, new features, priority changes, etc.
- Make sure the user stories are well defined to avoid roadblocks. Also, break down the user stories into small specific tasks to complete them within one workday.
- Team members assign tasks to themselves.
- Write the tasks on sticky cards and stick them on large visible boards. All the user stories must be visible to the entire team.
- Don’t forget to track the progress of each task by using a grid. Keep an eye on who completes each task on time, the overall time to complete it, and how much time is remaining.
- Also, use burndown charts to calculate if your project is progressing on, ahead, or behind schedule.
Remember, during the iteration planning, every team member should get the chance to share their opinion and concerns regarding the project. Communicating openly will ensure everyone is on the same page.
Plan Daily Stand-Up Meetings
Daily stand-up meetings are essential to identify any issues early. A project manager has to manage the stand-up meetings and keep the team members aligned.
Here are a few components of daily stand-up meetings:
- The daily stand-up meetings are a maximum of 15 minutes long.
- In each meeting, the team members share updates on what task they did yesterday, what they’ll do today, what issues they are facing while working on the task, etc.
- In daily stand-up meetings, teams should briefly report the obstacles they face while working on a project.
Review the Iterations
After each iteration, the team with stakeholders should assemble to review their progress. In iteration review, the team must focus on what went well and what needs improvement.
Apart from review, keeping your customers or clients updated about the project’s progress is important. It will provide more improvement opportunities if they can check the project and provide feedback anytime.
Complete and Release
Once you’ve completed the project that meets your client’s expectations and needs, you can release it to a larger customer base. However, if, after project completion, any error occurs, you may have to be flexible for changes.
Effective project management depends on technical expertise and strong collaboration, communication, and interpersonal skills. Your communication skills with the team will improve with each project you manage. You can also use effective communication tools or channels within the agile team for effective project management.