Agile project management can be outlined as an empowering method that helps companies to design and build the right product.
Many people nowadays are probably aware of Agile methodologies, especially when talking about software development. This is the most common approach to work with when developing these kinds of projects, but the truth is that the methodology to use will depend largely on your business context, so first things first, let’s talk about this.
No matter what industry your company belongs to, you may consider your business environment as dynamic in any of these situations:
- Operate in highly competitive markets
- Build and maintain market share via regular new product introduction
- Must respond to rapidly evolving requirements
- Constrained by time, money, and skilled resources, among others.
All those characteristics are easily findable in most organizations. They make today’s business world highly dynamic and competitive where speed and flexibility are essential factors to succeed. Therefore, building software that support those business needs is an even harder challenge to face.
Here is where Agile methodologies provide us the way to accomplish that! But, why should you be Agile in this dynamic business context? Is this really important? How can Agile project management impact your company?
Agile can be outlined as a really empowering methodology that helps companies to design and build the right product. The management process becomes very beneficial because it helps the entire team to analyze and improve their product throughout its development. This allows companies to produce a highly valuable product so they stay competitive in the market all the time.
How do they achieve this? They do it by reducing the complexity of building an entire software product by dividing it into smaller and manageable chunks of work, which are defined, coded, and tested separately in shorter time cycles or iterations.
In this way, while the company sets its own business priorities, the development teams can focus on delivering the highest business value in the shortest possible time. After each iteration, anyone can see the working software, and the customer can decide to release it as is or continue to enhance it in another iteration.
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The Agile methodologies are based on an empirical approach employing feedback mechanisms to continually monitor and adapt to the unexpected, which provides regularity of its outcome and quick responses to that feedback. They do not concentrate on an intense initial planning but rather on the interactions of individuals in a team and how they respond to changes. The goal is to produce working software rather than comprehensive documentation, as well as to use customer collaboration for continuous feedback.
There are other important benefits that are worth mentioning if you are looking to be Agile in a dynamic context:
1. Synergy between stakeholders and development team
The Agile process creates several opportunities throughout each iteration for real engagement between the team and the stakeholders. As a result, the client is actively involved in the entire project: There is a continuous level of collaboration among all parties.
Thanks to this, the team has the chance to fully understand the client’s vision and make suggestions and improvement proposals based on their knowledge (not only on the business, but on the application itself).
By delivering high quality and working software frequently, the stakeholders rapidly build up a trusting and authentic relationship with the team.
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2. Things become predictable: costs, schedule, and delivery
Iterations are held on a fixed schedule of 1 to 4 weeks duration (depending on the Agile methodology chosen). By using this time-boxed method while predictability becomes high, new features can be delivered to the stakeholders quickly and frequently.
As a result, the costs are limited and predictable, with all this based on the amount of work done. Considering the estimated costs before each iteration and comparing with previous work already planned will enable the client to better understand the approximate costs of each feature. This will entail more improved decision-making opportunities when prioritizing the features or adding iterations.
3. Flexibility, the key to be prepared for the change
In a software development project, customer-driven features are prioritized based on their business value for a specific moment in time. Since the business context is dynamic and may change very often, Agile brings more flexibility by allowing you to change that prioritization at any time for all those requirements that are not currently in progress.
While the focus is on delivering the agreed subset of products features, Agile processes create an opportunity to continually reprioritize and refine the product backlog. Along with this, clients do not have to wait much since these changes can be added to the next iteration, which means they can be introduced within a few weeks.
4. Focus is set on business value and users
Because of the synergy already mentioned, the entire team has a better understanding of what is most important for the client’s business. Given that and setting the focus on the user’s needs, the team is able to deliver real value instead of just a software component.
How do we keep the focus on the user’s needs? It’s easy. Just take advantage of the feedback gained from them after each iteration. That valuable feedback allows the team to make changes on the software according to what users need.
5. Quality is improved
An iterative approach results in a more robust software when issues, defects, and mismatches are detected and corrected earlier in the project lifecycle. This is especially good for critical workflows since it ensures it works as expected as changes may be introduced over several iterations. The result is not only having more mature testing but also getting higher quality software.
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TO SUM UP
Agile management brings a powerful set of practices to carry out software projects. Implementing this approach properly is definitely recommended for those projects that take place in a dynamic or volatile business context since it reduces the common risks that are associated with the delivery, scope, and budget of the project itself.
As if that were not enough, the quality of the projects is vastly superior thanks to the evolving process. Finally, one thing to highlight is that thanks to Agile project management, organizations can continually find ways to increase the value for their customers!
Have you ever tried Agile development? If so, how has it added value to your project?
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