What is Agile Project Management?
Agile project management is a management style that allows leaders to supervise projects with flexibility and ensure all deliverables—large and small—are completed, assessed, and adjusted to align with a project’s highest desired outcome.
What is an Agile Project?
Now that we understand the definition of agile project management, it’s crucial to get acquainted with agile projects themselves. Like their traditional counterparts, agile projects follow a lifecycle structure that ensures project managers, and their teams can build successful projects. However, where traditional project structures typically don’t offer much flexibility, agile projects do.
Agile projects are divided into bite-sized goals that produce a stand-alone deliverable. At the same time, each “mini-deliverable” contributes to the larger goal of the project. This approach allows agile teams the wiggle room they need to work through milestones efficiently and respond to issues that may arise once customers engage with project deliverables.
The Lifecycle Structure of an Agile Project
Like their traditional counterparts, agile projects follow a lifecycle structure from start to finish. However, the lifecycle of an agile project is distinctly built to allow room for flexibility and iteration. When we break the structure of an agile project down into phases, these distinctions become even more evident. Below are the phases of an agile project:
#1. Project Conception – In this phase, the project scope, desired outcomes, team responsibilities, and tasks—or the bones of the project—are conceived.
#2. Speculate and Solidify – In this phase, the project’s initial requirements, such as the budget, timelines, resource allocation, and milestones are created in alignment with the project’s desired outcome.
#3. Execute and Explore – In this phase, teams begin working within the pre-determined project requirements and focus their attention on the completion of smaller goals. This is also a time when teams explore alternative methods for accomplishing project objectives.
#4. Feedback and Adapt – in this phase, completed objectives are delivered and assessed continuously, and necessary adjustments are made. This empowers agile teams to improve the project and increase success with each iteration they produce.
#5. Closure – The final iterations of project objectives are completed and handed over to the proper parties. New iterations are assessed, and adjustments are made. The final product is then measured against adapted project requirements, and final improvements are made and recorded for future reference.
Agile Values and Principles
Of course, understanding the structure of agile projects is a great start! But being able to wrap your head around the values and principles that inform these flexible projects is also important.
After all, they guide agile managers and their teams in determining the most successful path for each project they work through. There are various agile values and principles, but the following are among the most important:
- Customer satisfaction and continuous delivery of high-quality deliverables
- Regular reflection and adjustments in ways of working and project execution
- Open-mindedness and welcoming project changes, even in late-stage development
- Clear communication, preferably in “face-to-face" environments like in-person, video calls, etc.
- Creating a sustainable work pace and project agility through simplicity and excellence
Why Do We Need Agile Project Management?
Our world and the ways we work are becoming increasingly agile. As we explore new and exciting frontiers in the digital, software, and technological realms, project teams need a framework that allows them to flex and develop at the same pace as these rapidly evolving industries.
Moreover, agile project techniques offer many unique benefits, including:
- Freedom for teams to play to their strengths as they work through milestone iterations
- Empowered teams that can work within flexible project requirements to achieve their goals
- More efficiency in resource, money, and time usage, which leads to quicker project completion
- Increased collaboration among teams, target customers, and stakeholders, which leads to more successful and engaging projects
We need agile project management because it’s effective, flexible, and—most importantly—it aligns with the needs of our increasingly projectized world.
Agile Career Path and PMI
There’s no question that agile approaches are wonderful in work environments that thrive on flexibility. However, in some cases, a traditional project framework is the more appropriate choice. Agile Project Management is best for organizations that require consistent collaboration and can afford less stringent timelines.
If this is your first look into agile project management, hello! PMI provides a detailed catalog of courses and certifications around project management and agile that can help you build a solid foundation for a future in agile.
PMI can help you on your path to becoming a distinguished agile project manager. Get started with our PMI-ACP Certification and start building the career of your dreams.