April 4, 2017 • Henry Thedieck
How to Successfully Adopt Agile Project Management Methodology
When it comes to buzzwords in IT project management, none have resonated as strongly as the phrase Agile Project Management. This variety of management features dedicated roles that are focused on fewer projects in order to increase speed, flexibility, and continuous improvement. Several sprints, or short 2-4 week increments of rapid product development, are used to propel the project forward. Daily team communication becomes essential during the continuous cycle of sprints and project tasks.
Those that have successfully adopted an Agile Project Management methodology tout profound benefits such as a faster release cycle of weeks instead of months, quicker ROI, and better discovery of issues. With 67% of IT professionals either using pure Agile or at least leaning their strategies towards Agile, it’s no wonder that many IT departments are looking to jump on the bandwagon.
The potentially greater return on investment is what makes it so tempting to map strategies over to Agile. Statistics show that Agile organizations grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits than non-Agile companies. However, to reap such benefits an organization must consider several areas to successfully adopt Agile Project Management methodology.
Are You Truly Ready?
Hearing about how IT project success rates are rising through Agile can be enough to catapult anyone into action, but acting before taking the pulse of your organization and appropriately managing expectations sets the stage for a disaster. Ask yourself:
What pain points are there in your currently methodology? Investigating the root cause of these issues will determine if Agile can actually solve them, or if they will continue regardless.
What sort of product do you have? Agile lends itself best to software development, so if you’re more heavily involved with infrastructure it may be best to take a longer look at other options.
Are there time and resources available to dedicate to learning new Agile methods? The decision to fully adopt Agile Project Management means adding to your workforce and considering new project management applications. While the ROI on these investments will be fast if everything goes to plan, the initial approval of new hires is an especially necessary step.
What is your organization’s propensity for change? Total buy-in throughout the entire business is essential to adopt Agile Project Management correctly. Your organization’s culture must support the change and become devoted to new processes. Even one employee refusing to fully follow new protocol can result in diminished returns.
Initial Steps & Identifying Clear Roles
Once you’ve determined you’re ready to adopt Agile Project Management, it’s time to identify and delegate roles. A Scrum Master can be compared to a Project Manager in a traditional Waterfall system. They own the plan, provide guidance to the development team, tackle any issues that arise, and generally keep the entire team coordinated and in communication.
Another focused role is the Product Owner. This person takes responsibility for the requirements of each sprint, and represents the business as it faces the customer. Knowing the customers’ needs, the Product Owner works with the development team to ensure that requirements are met. It is this role that ensures the end product is exactly what was expected, and will take action during any sprints if that vision begins to veer off track.
When it comes to roles in an Agile setting, the key is in understanding the absolute focus that is required for everyone involved. Agile requires complete concentration on project sprints, meaning a development team is not working on multiple projects at once. This can take some adjustment when workers are used to multi-tasking, but results in rapid release schedules when adhered to.
Assess Potential Disadvantages
There is no single method that is perfect for every business. Considering the potential disadvantages when looking to adopt Agile Project Management is due diligence that must be paid by decision makers.
While the rapid speed of Agile is one of its greatest benefits, it can also cause most of its disadvantages. Moving extremely fast through processes can invite a margin of error. Documentation may suffer due to greater urgency. Development, in an Agile mindset, takes precedence over record-keeping. Likewise, Agile still requires management of the scope, schedule, and budget of a project. Going too fast can overlook some of these areas, sometimes creating a ballooning budget or scope creep when ignored.
Some organizations are not prepared to fully adopt Agile Project Management, or their structure and end product may not be a total fit for this method. In those cases, some of the benefits can still be reaped by blending certain Agile principles into the current strategy.
Using the “sprint” mentality to speed up production times is a popular method to infuse into traditional methods. The idea of greater focus to break down and complete smaller development portions of a project more quickly can be a great boost to overall production time. Although this doesn’t reap as many rewards as full-on Agile implementation, it can avoid adding to headcount, be less taxing on resources, and easier to achieve buy-in with.
How to Adopt Agile Project Management
Harnessing the power of Agile Project Management takes a lot of knowhow, effort, and dedication. It’s not for every business, and even when the correct steps are taken it can be difficult to streamline. In many cases, turning this buzzword into a tangible strategy for your business can best be accomplished through the help of outside IT experts. At Smart Resources, we’ve provided Scrum Masters, Agile-savvy consultants, and have helped with the execution of Agile transitions.
Looking for a hand implementing a new Agile Project Management methodology? We’re here for you.
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