Agile project management lets teams subdivide large jobs so value can be delivered more quickly. Tasks are handled in short, incrementally improving "sprints," which perfectly suits software development, construction management and bringing products to market. Rapidly changing business environments are ideal settings for this discipline.
You may also be familiar with Scrum, an implementation of the Agile methodology involving builds delivered to the customer every two or three weeks. This framework is highly flexible and suited to the most rapidly changing projects.
Understanding What Agile Emphasizes and De-Emphasizes
This methodology accelerates conventional business values to be more nimble. It is a more transparent process, with team members and stakeholders able to see progress being made. It's also an exercise in iterative planning and adapting on the fly. The strengths of Agile project management arise from four areas of changing emphasis:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Conventional processes move slowly because of un-adaptability to changing circumstances, but well-trained people can be flexible.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation. In software development, documentation can slow the development process.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation. A product is more likely to meet the customer's needs at the end of the process if the customer is involved throughout.
- Responding to change over following a plan. Conventional project management sets a plan in stone to avoid unforeseen costs. Agile supports continuous change.
Shifting values require certain characteristics of team members, such as adaptability, cross-functionality, curiosity, and group orientation. Though usually innate, these characteristics can be developed through a program like the specialized MBA focused on project management from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Benefits of the Methodology
- Improved product quality. The Agile method defines requirements in time so that knowledge of project features guides development. It embraces technological excellence and strong, sustainable design involving daily testing to address issues as they appear. Automated tools test overnight, enabling team members to fix bugs in the morning.
- Reduced risks. With Agile there's always a working product, beginning with the first sprint, thus eliminating the chance for complete project failure. There is freedom to add features, and they can be implemented at reduced cost because of the frequency of incremental changes and customer involvement.
- High customer satisfaction. The methodology elevates customer satisfaction by involving the customer and factoring in feedback. Functionality and features are demonstrated throughout by an expert product owner who intimately understands the customer's needs.
- Quicker return on investment. Iterative development results in an incremental realization of benefits, rather than a wait until the end of a project. A functional product that is ready for market after a few iterations is developed and improved in collaborative steps. Delivery cycles yield faster product releases and the ability to gauge market response and alter the product.
- Healthy morale. Team members can apply their own ingenuity and creativity in this framework, rather than be constrained by processes, tools and documentation. They also learn more through the collaboration, which results in greater satisfaction.
The results of Agile project management are the most convincing benefits of all: 37% faster time to market and 16% greater team productivity than the average project. Whenever there is a first mover advantage, the Agile methodology should be strongly considered.
Learn more about SIUE's online MBA program with a Project Management Specialization.
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