Best Practices for Agile Project Management

Agile Project Management

Agile Project Management is a software development approach focused on delivering quality software faster and on time without rework or change control. 

It becomes possible by breaking down the traditional project management model and replacing it with continuous improvement and flexibility.

Before knowing in-depth about Agile, it’s crucial to understand Project Management.

Project management is an integral part of the software engineering process, along with business analysis, requirement specification, design, programming, and testing.

No matter what industry a company operates in, project management is crucial to its success. A study found that organizations implementing project management practices are 2.5 times more successful than others.

As per project management professionals, “a successful project is not the one that complies with the budget and deadlines, but the one that delivers expected results.”

Here is where project management comes into effect.

Although having several other advantages, only 53% of organizations implement project management practices within their workspace.

Phases of Project Management:

Project management phases are steps taken to complete a project successfully. 

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a worldwide organization that promotes excellence in project management. The PMI has developed a standardization process that exemplifies how projects should proceed.

There are five phases for every project:

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Monitoring
  • Closure

These phases define the project management lifecycle, generally used as a roadmap to accomplish specific tasks.

Traditional Project Management Methodologies:

Traditional Methodologies follow the above step-by-step approach for project execution. The project goes through consecutive stages, beginning from initiation to its closure. 

It is often known as the linear approach, As it involves different sequential internal phases and performs in chronological order. Construction companies commonly use this approach, where minimal changes are made at every stage.

The traditional approach works in the IT industry as well. It is often called as Waterfall Model. The model has strong significance for planning and specifications development, which takes up to 40% of the project time and budget. This approach follows the strict order of project phases, and a new project doesn’t begin until the previous one is completed.

This method performs well for clearly defines projects with a single deliverable and fixed deadline. The approach requires thorough planning, extensive project documentation, and proper control over the development process.

However, it fails to give effective results, when it comes to the actual software engineering process. This method tends to be slow, costly, and inflexible due to several restrictions. 

Agile Project Management Methodologies:

Looking at limitations in the Traditional Project Management method, the Agile project management approach has been introduced to make software engineering more flexible and easy. Soon after it got introduced, it become the industry standard for project management. 

The agile approach has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it helps organizations respond quickly to changes and deliver high-quality products.

As per Capterra, about 71% of organisations are practising an agile approach for their operation in any of the ways.

Agile project management is a methodology that helps organizations manage projects more flexibly and adaptively. It’s based on the principle that projects should be delivered in small, iterative increments so that they can be more easily adapted to changes in scope or requirements.

According to a study, it is found that projects approaching agile methodology are 28% more successful as compared to traditional ways.

The agile methodology emphasizes iterative software development. Agile projects are composed of smaller cycles called sprints, unlike a linear Waterfall project. There is a backlog for each, and it consists of phases such as design, implementation, testing, and deployment within a predefined scope.

A potentially shippable product increment is delivered at the end of each Sprint. In this way, new features are added to the product with each iteration, resulting in the gradual growth of the project. As the features are being validated in the development earlier, the chance of delivering failed product is significantly lower.

Let’s know about the Agile aspects in brief.

Scope of Work: The areas of activities are flexible and change according to the new requirements.

Work breakdown: As part of Scrum, the project consists of small cycles known as Sprints.

Team’s value: A clear vision of the responsibilities of the team members allows the members to work together.

Continual improvement: The work done during a cycle is regularly reevaluated to enhance the final product.

Client’s cooperation: The customer can change the requirements or accept suggestions made by the team as part of the development process.

Many frameworks and practices fall under the umbrella of agile development. Some of the famous project management frameworks for agile include Scrum, Kanban, Hybrid, Bimodal, Lean, XP, and Crystal.

Let’s move toward these popular practices for Agile Project Management and understand them in brief.

Scrum Project Management:

Scrum is the most widely used project framework used by the maximum number of organizations. Statistics show that 58% of organizations implement this practice for their product development. While 18% of organizations use it in combination with other frameworks.

#1-Product Backlog:

The product backlog is a prioritized list of work for the development team that is derived from the product vision. It is created by the development team and stakeholders together.

This ensures that everyone has a shared understanding of the product vision and what needs to be done to achieve it.

The product backlog contains all features, functions, requirements, and enhancements that stakeholders want in the product.

#2-Sprints Burndown Chats:

Burndown charts are a great tool for scrum projects because they help you track progress and identify potential problems early on.

At the beginning of each sprint, you create a burndown chart that lists all of the tasks that need to be completed during the sprint. As the sprint progresses, you update the chart to show how much work has been completed. 

For example, if you see that the amount of work remaining is significantly higher than what was originally estimated, you know that you need to take action to get back on track.

#3-Communication guidelines:

When it comes to scrum project management, one of the most important things for team members to do is set communication guidelines. By setting clear communication guidelines, team members can avoid misunderstandings and conflict.

Some important things to keep in mind while creating communication guidelines for teams are:

  • Make sure that everyone understands the scrum process and its role in it.
  • Ensure that team members know how and when to communicate with each other.
#4-Daily Scrum Meetings:

Daily Scrum Meeting is held to keep the project team on track and ensure that everyone is aware of the current status of the project. It’s a short meeting held for 15 minutes or less. 

All members of the project team participate in this meeting including the product owner, developers, testers, and others who are involved in the project. 

Each member of the team gives a brief update on their progress since the last meeting and raises issues that prevent progress so that they can be addressed.

Kanban Project Management:

This approach is followed by organisations to improve the team’s efficiency and productivity. Its key features include visualization of work, limiting work in progress, and continuous improvement. When applied to software development, Kanban help teams to move faster and deliver better quality code.

#1-Visualizing workflows:

Visualizing workflows is an important part of any project management system. By visualizing the workflow, team members can see what needs to be done and where bottlenecks are occurring. This information can then be used to make necessary changes to the workflow.

One popular method used in the Kanban system to visualize the workflow is using a Kanban board. This is a physical or digital board that displays all of the tasks that need to be completed. The tasks are typically divided into columns, such as “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.”

#2-Limiting Work in Progress:

One of the best things you can do to improve the efficiency of your team is to limit the amount of work in progress. This means that at any given time, each member of the team should only be working on one or two tasks.

It helps to prevent team members from getting overwhelmed. When there are too many tasks in progress, it can be difficult to keep track of everything and stay organized. Limiting work in progress ensures that each task gets the attention it deserves.

#3-Continuous Feedback:

Continuous feedback is a key element of successful Kanban project management. This means that team members are constantly giving and receiving feedback on the progress of the project.

It is done at every stage of the project, from planning to execution. This helps team members to understand what needs to be improved and how they can help to make the project a success.

#4-Focusing on Workflow:

In Kanban, every task is represented by a card. Cards are moved through different stages of the workflow, from “to do” to “doing” to “done.” This visual representation of your work helps you see where tasks are in the process and identify any bottlenecks.

The goal of Kanban is to improve the flow of work by eliminating bottlenecks and ensuring that work moves smoothly through the pipeline.

Lean project management:

The main purpose of Lean project management is to focus on eliminating waste or anything that doesn’t add any value to the work.

#1-Identifying Value:

This is done by breaking down complex projects carefully into smaller tasks and sub-tasks to identify the value of each of them. This practice helps to understand the workflow in a better way and identify the unnecessary tasks that need to remove.

#2-Reducing Waste:

The main goal of lean project management is to eliminate waste in all forms to achieve faster delivery, higher quality, and lower costs. There are many different ways to achieve a lean project management process, but some of the most common methods include:

1) Value Stream Mapping: This technique is used to identify and map out all of the steps in a process to identify areas of waste. Once these areas are identified, they can be eliminated or streamlined.

2) Just-in-Time Delivery: This method seeks to eliminate waste by only delivering items when they are needed, rather than stockpiling them in advance. This reduces inventory costs and ensures that items are always fresh and up-to-date.

#3-Constant Improvement:

There would be a need for constant improvement throughout the project to successfully implement this project management practice. To achieve more with minimal waste, team members should be communicated with the requirements and guidelines.

Wrapping Up:

In the end, we can say, Agile Project Management is worth a try. It’s not the only way to go about setting up your projects, but it might just be the most effective way to meet the needs of you and your clients.

Agile project management is a great resource for giving teams more freedom, an innovation method that has found great success in recent years. 

By implementing best practices for Agile project management, you’re likely to enhance the value of your organization by becoming increasingly flexible and creative.

As a boutique software development company, we smartly deal with various projects. And to provide our clients with better results we follow the Agile approach for our projects. As a business owner if you are looking for software development services, then reach out to us today.