5 Agile Project Management Best Practices and Methodologies
Updated: June 27, 2023
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the key to success was learning how to pivot. IT teams worldwide performed the tactical triage necessary to pivot to a remote workforce—practically overnight. It is not 2022 and companies still continue to rethink their products and services. As a result, the workplace model is always being updated and refined.
As technology continues to advance, it proves that change is inevitable. However, even though technology continues to change, this does not mean your workplace practices should remain stagnant. Adopting agile project management best practices and methodologies can benefit many organizations in 2022 and beyond.
What Agile Project Management Implementation Approach Should I Take?
Implementing an Agile project management approach allows organizations to rapidly respond to change, increase their value to customers, and minimize risk. Agile project management best practices and methodologies include a clear vision, organizational alignment, effective teamwork, and a culture of continuous improvement. Commitment among senior leadership is crucial for success.
The four fundamental values of an Agile project management methodology are:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
Is your organization or team considering adopting an Agile project management implementation approach?
Let’s take a look at the areas you need to consider.
First Things First: What or Who is Missing?
When adopting an Agile project management implementation approach, the first step is determining what and who is needed to make the transition possible. It’s essential to recognize that this transition is a team effort. Everyone must embrace the change to succeed.
An experienced Agile Coach or Scrum Master can help facilitate and implement the best-in-class transformation practices. You can also consider implementing a Lean-Agile Center of Excellence (LACE) or an Enterprise Agility Team (EAT). These teams develop the implementation plan and establish KPIs by communicating a need, vision, and urgency for Agile transformation.
Whether you’ve identified existing staff to lead the change, or plan to onboard Agile specialists, make sure they possess the necessary experience and skills to effectively champion and implement your goals. Positive work relationships and a collaborative environment are critical to Agile project management adoption and transformation.
Continuous Training Means Continuous Innovation
To foster an Agile mindset, you’ll need to provide and encourage an environment of continuous learning. Consider establishing Communities of Practice (CoP) groups or “micro-learning” sessions relevant to specific teams so they can apply their insights to individual work experiences. Continuous training lets your teams share their successes, best practices, and lessons learned.
The very nature of best practices in Agile project management means creating a constant learning and testing environment. While individual Agile methodologies have distinct attributes, they all rely on the principles of iterative development and continuous feedback. Encouraging your teams to incorporate short feedback loops and establish frequent retrospectives will help boost collaboration and innovation while reducing risk.
The ultimate goal of moving to an Agile project management methodology is to enable an organization to quickly respond to change and establish a culture of continuous training, improvement, and innovation.
As of mid-2022, seven out of ten companies adopted an Agile project management methodology approach in some form or another. Why? Because nearly all of them report achieving project success as a result of adopting its methodologies.
The vision and intended outcomes behind Agile methodology are to develop applications in small, functional stages. Each stage is tested, and iterative changes are made along the way before its considered complete. This process ensures that quality is “built” directly into the product instead of completing development and inspecting for quality later.
Agile project management best practices and methodologies require a heavy focus on understanding customer requirements through constant collaboration with team members, internal stakeholders, and customers. The goal is to provide customers with what they need, not just what they ask for. Agile teams can quickly adapt the product roadmap to the customer’s changing needs and optimize delivery. This frequent collaboration increases the efficiency of projects, creates lower production levels, and delays cost, making the final deliverable cheaper for the end customer.
Communicate and Collaborate
Agile project management methodology is based on simplicity, flexibility, and continual iteration. Communication plans should make it easier for developers and stakeholders to share information and move the project forward, not harder.
Agile teams learn as they go, so it isn’t easy to know exactly what the communication needs may be on any given day. Instead of creating a detailed and finite communication plan, consider these strategies as you adopt an Agile environment:
- Business units and developers need to work together every day throughout the project.
Instead of traditional project management plans that rely on specific deliverable dates, Agile requires close collaboration and information sharing among stakeholders. This allows quick decision-making and enables teams to pivot throughout the process.
- Face-to-face conversations are the best and most efficient method between stakeholders and a development team.
An Agile environment favors quick, in-person conversations and not heavily documented and structured meetings. The nature of Agile development and iterative change means you can’t always plan what conversation you’ll be having. Develop guidelines to facilitate and evaluate clear and productive communication.
- If it’s working, there’s progress.
An Agile environment doesn’t mean there won’t be documentation. Regular sprint reviews demonstrating functional deliverables have more excellent value than status reports to track and measure progress.
- Maximize the amount of work not done.
Agility means reducing the steps required to deliver information and requires a minimalist approach. Simplicity and brevity are key. Pare down Agile documentation (i.e., artifacts) to include only the necessary information that coveys project details at a glance.
Lastly, ensure your team champions and socializes success stories internally to highlight the value of adopting an Agile transformation. Ultimately, you’ll want to encourage adoption across non-development functions.
It may seem like an oxymoron to make a steady transition to a rapid-fire environment, so it’s helpful to define the contrasts between organizational transformation and Agile scaling. Organizational transformation is how your organization structures and empowers employees to embrace agility, while scaling means how your company executes it.
Many frameworks help an organization or team scale efficiently: scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Scrum @ Scale, Nexus, and Large-Scale Scrum (LeSS). Scrum is commonly a way to tackle a project using Agile, and SAFe is a way to make your entire end-to-end business Agile, including non-project work and non-project employees.
While Agile methodologies are generally used in project management and software development, they can also be implemented across organizational processes. You can encourage non-development functions to adopt Agile practices. Whether a company is executing Agile Marketing to plan and track campaigns or to create a Kanban board for resource planning, an Agile mindset and techniques can improve output across the organization.
Need an Agile Expert?
Over the past 15 years, Benchmark IT has placed dozens of Agile project management and development professionals across numerous companies and industry verticals. Whether it’s an Agile Coach or SAFe-certified expert to plan and lead your transformation, Scrum Masters and Product Owners to build out your team, or technical teams to implement the tools necessary to collaborate seamlessly, we have a deep bench of talent to call on.
We’d be happy to discuss your needs and help match the right professionals for the job. Contact us today!
About Benchmark IT –Technology Talent
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