What is Agile Project Management?

An Agile methodology for project management refers to the ability to solve problems by taking an iterative approach. The approach ensures feedback can be acted upon quickly and responsive changes can be made at any stage of a sprint or product cycle.

Many agile projects management methodologies were developed with software in mind, but agile values and principles can be applied to a diverse range of complex problems. Applying an agile methodology to a project will enable teams to work quickly and collaboratively within the time frame and budget of a project.

What is an Agile Scrum?

An Agile Scrum is a framework that is used for developing, delivering and sustaining products in a complex environment. The framework allows teams flexibility to respond to changing situations and has control points to prevent the team from straying away from the desired outcome. In an agile scrum you take a complex problem and break them down into smaller easier to solve tasks or deliverables. Then you iterate through development cycles to evolve and refine the product to meet the acceptance criteria defined. At the core, an agile scrum will exhibit behaviors of trust, empowerment, flexibility and collaboration.

The Scrum project life-cycle consists of the following workflow events:

  1. Identify the complex problem. This may be a new product or service such as building new software, running a migration project or the design of a new product. For example it maybe difficult to identify what the customer wants or you need to utilise a new technology.
  2. The problem is then broken down into smaller tasks. A list of these tasks then form the basis of the Product backlog artifact that is used in the process. The Product backlog forms a to do list that is ordered by priority.
  3. In a Sprint planning team meeting, a few items from the most important to do items are selected to form a Sprint Backlog. These items in the sprint backlog are to be developed in the Sprint.
  4. A Sprint is a time-box period typically between 1 week and 1 month. This is the core component of Scrum.
  5. During Sprints product increments are developed. An Increment is ideally something that can be demonstrated to the customer or product owner. For example it may be the sign up and login feature of a web portal or application.
  6. At the end of the sprint, a Sprint Review meeting is held to show the customer the Increment. This is when the Increment demo will identify if it meets requirements and allow the customer to provide feedback. The feedback will be used to update the Product Backlog. The Increment must provide a fully functional component that can be tested and the customer will be able to identify if it fits their needs. If it meets the needs then it is marked as complete, if not then the team will be provided with the information they need to fulfill the customers expectations.
  7. A Sprint Retrospective is also held to reflect on how the sprint has proceeded so far and how the team is performing, allowing processes to be adapted. This may help the team to identify new methods to be more efficient, identify lessons that have been learnt and suggest improvements for the next sprints iterations.
  8. Iterative cycles of sprints are run and the product backlog is refined during this process until the customer decides that the product meets their requirements or there is no more budget left.
  9. Daily scrums are also held to allow the team to inspect and adapt their work to have full focus on achieving the Sprints goals.

There are three main accountabilities in an agile scrum:

  • Product Owner
    The product owner is responsible for managing the product backlog and prioritising the tasks in the list. They must ensure that developers are alligned with the work to be done. Their goal is to maximise the value of the product.
  • Developers or the team acting to solve the problem
    This is the team that must transform the to do list items from the backlog in a sprint increment.
  • A Scrum Master
    The Scrum master is responsible for empowering the team to organise themselves and take collective responsibility and build high quality products. They help to build a trusting and safe environment for their team where problems can be raised without concern. The Scrum master is also the pivotal point to provide effective communication between the team and the project stakeholders.

What is Continuous Improvement?

One of the benefits of an Agile Scrum approach is continuous improvement. With continuous improvement it is possible to:

  • Improve the quality of the product or service through iterative cycles in the development lifecycle
  • Gain employee and customer satisfaction
  • Evaluate current business processes to ensure output is maximised
  • Empower individuals to take responsibility for delighting customers and participating in the projects progress

I hope this post has helped you or your business to understand how you can improve your business project management with agile techniques. Please click here to get in touch if you would like to know more.