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What is Agile project management: Benefits and drawbacks

This article explains what Agile Project Management is and how it works. Learn APM principles and how APM compares to other development methods

Agile Project Management
Image: KnowTechie

Agile project management is an iterative approach to delivering a project throughout its life cycle. An approach to managing software development projects that concentrate on frequent delivery and including customer feedback with every iteration.

It focuses on the following points:

  • Working on small batches 
  • Visualizing every process to create transparency in team
  • Getting customer feedback as fast as possible 
  • Working in collaboration with the customer

This allows you to quickly adapt to the growing requirements and produce higher-quality products or services to better serve your customer’s demands.

We should also address a common misconception about Agile, that it is a methodology. Agile is more of a way of thinking for solving problems in a collaborative way and an approach that companies implement to modern-day project management. 

Brief History of Agile 

Originally rooted in the software development sector, let’s examine how the idea of  Agile project development came into view in the first place. It came to light with ” application development crises” in the early 1990s.

During that era, there was a notable lag time of about three years between the business need for an application and the actual delivery of the application. Usually,  by the time of product release, the technology or customer requirements had already changed. This ended up failing a lot of projects and lowered costs. 

Those long-drawn projects lead to frustration in the leaders of the software development industry. They began planning informal meetings among themselves and were determined to figure out a way to develop software solutions conveniently and effectively. 

The 21st century saw a  rise in the use of the Agile Project Management methodology, especially in many software development companies in India and other IT initiatives. A particular Agile Project Management Framework that has developed the most in recent years is Scrum.

This methodology involves a product owner working with the development team to build a product backlog, a categorized list of features, functionalities, and solutions needed to deliver a strong software system.

What is Agile project methodology?

The agile project methodology helps to break into small pieces. These project pieces are then finished in work sessions that are mostly called sprints.

Sprints generally last anywhere between a few days to weeks. Sessions involve the initial design phase, testing, and quality assurance (QA). The Agile methodology allows teams to release segments when they are done. 

This sort of continuous release schedule lets teams illustrate that these segments are successful and, if they are not, then fix those errors quickly. The idea is to help reduce the chance of large-scale crashes because of continuous improvement throughout the project. 

How does Agile Project management work? 

As discussed earlier,  Agile Project Management uses the Scrum framework that uses fixed lengths iterations called sprints. There are four meetings or ceremonies that bring structure to each sprint. It all begins with a backlog or body of work that needs to be performed.

There are two backlogs in Scrum: First is the product backlog which is owned by product owners and is a prioritized list of features. The other one is the Sprint backlog fulfilled by taking issues from the top of the product backlog until the capacity of the next Sprint is reached. Sprint teams have individual roles particular to their needs in the process.

Usually, there is a Scrum master or champion of the scrum method for the team; the product owner, who is the head of the product; and the scrum team, who are the regular cross-functional team members for getting the stuff done. 

Agile teams create rapid feedback, continuous adaptation, and QA best practices in their new iterations. They implement practices such as continuous deployment and continuous integration using technology that automates steps to speed up time to launch the product and its use.

On top of that Agile project management calls for teams to evaluate time and cost as they move forward with their project. To measure their work better, they use velocity, burndown, and burnup charts instead of Gantt charts and milestones to keep track of your progress.

Agile project management does not necessarily require a project manager to be present or participate. That doesn’t mean that a project manager isn’t essential for the success of projects that fall under the traditional project delivery methodologies like the waterfall model, where the project manager’s job under APM is allocated among team members.

For example, the project owner establishes product goals, while the team members divide scheduling, progress reporting, and quality tasks. Some of the Agile approaches add other layers of management.

The Scrum method, for instance, calls for Scrum Master who assists in setting priorities and guiding the project towards completion. But project managers can be used in Agile Project Management. Many businesses still use them for agile projects -especially larger and complicated ones.

These businesses normally give project managers more of a coordinator role, making project owners responsible for the project’s successful completion.   

Benefits of Agile Project Management

Advisors of Agile project management state that the methodology delivers a number of benefits:

  • More freedom- Project management allows designers to work on models that use their strengths.
  • Better use of resources, which allows rapid development 
  • Quick detection of problems, which enables quicker fixes;
  • Better flexibility and adaptability to varying needs – developers can adjust better and make the necessary changes 
  • It does not need distinctly defined goals and processes, at the start of development when compared to conventional project management ways like a waterfall method 
  • improved collaboration with the users leading the products that suits user needs

Drawbacks of APM

With benefits, there are also a few potential drawbacks, that includes the following:

  • The project could go off track because there are fewer set courses of action at the beginning of the project 
  • Agile management counts on making quick decisions so it is not reasonable for organizations  that take a long time to find issues
  •  Off-track projects can cause less predictable results
  • Teams or end-users must frequently collaborate to make the best attainable product. Communication challenges could influence the end product.

In Conclusion

The Agile method to project management allows your company to be more flexible and find a way to adapt to emerging changes.  

A project can only be considered as Agile when the following characteristics are in place: Transparency, Customer Focus, Continuous Improvement, Sense of ownership, and adaptability.

Some of the more well-known examples of APM are Scrum, XP, feature-driven development, lean software development, and adaptive software development.

There is also the Half Double Methodology, a relative newcomer to the world of Project Management. The Half Double Institute is an impartial and non-profit foundation with the purpose of increasing the rate of success in projects all over the world.

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