The benefits of Agile thinking in Project Management
The definition of agile is the ability to move quickly and easily. With increased agility and suppleness in thinking and delivering project management, the outcome should surely be improved.
But what are the benefits of agile thinking in project management? And what actually is it?
WHAT IS AGILE PROJECT MANAGEMENT?
Generally speaking, when someone uses this term they are referring to an incremental method of management. It a style of project planning and control that focuses on helping the team to maintain their focus in an environment that is constantly shifting, changing and evolving.
Deriving from the Agile Manifesto, the process looks to continuous improvement and flexibility of the input of a team, delivering results of the highest quality.
The difference between this method of managing projects and others is that it is about teams. Some of those within the agile community wonder if project management is really necessary when this method of working is adopted.
The focus is to determine how to make teams more efficient and able to deliver what customers need. Thus, understanding why the project is required is a question that needs answering.
The senior people in an organisation allocated resources and approve plans, whilst the project manager manages the day to day running of the project, possibly allocating roles and tasks within the team, including those fulfilling apprenticeships.
An agile development technique would skim along the four values and 12 principles of the agile working method, such as satisfying the customer not only with a quality product but delivered early and through working in constant collaboration. It also talks about simplicity, creating an environment where people are trusted to get things done, team reflection and more besides.
So how does this effective team approach really benefit a business?
1. HIGHER QUALITY PRODUCT
From apprenticeships to products, every outcome should have a higher quality finish and polish about it. This is because a key principle of this method of working is constant testing and reflection, along with refinement and improvement.
The word incremental is used in abundance. In other words, once one building block is in place, the team move on to another, but this doesn’t mean assuming that all block will remain the same.
2. HIGHER CUSTOMER SATISFACTION
You’ve created something which you present to the customer… but something is off. This happens more frequently when communication between the project team and the customer is either non-existent or of such a poor quality that is it at the furthest point away from collaboration.
The connection between the customer and the team is constant. From testing to appraising, feedback and more, this constant ‘back and forth’ is essential for producing the end result that the customer wants.
And when a customer is satisfied, everyone is happy.
3. INCREASED PROJECT CONTROL
Trust is central to any project team being able to perform and create the products or service that customers need and want.
But all too often, the ability for a project team to operate autonomously is non-existent. Those serving apprenticeships, for example, may not have the freedom to experiment. Or when mistakes happen – and they do – there is a blame culture.
Effectively, trust needs to be built and that means allowing the project team to deliver the customer’s product in a way that produces the best for what is needed at that time. A top-down management approach can be restricting, as it can be the guiding hand in some projects.
4. REDUCED RISK
The simplicity of agile project management is the ability to make quick decisions and changes when the goal posts shifts.
But when rapid-fire decisions are made, a project can quickly spin out of control. Effective risk management is part and parcel of what a project manager should identify and mitigate for. Sabotaging success, risks must be managed and with over 90% of agile thinking business reporting agile thinking as being effective at-risk management, isn’t it something every organisation should be investing in?
5. IMPROVED ROI
Because agile thinking in project management is incremental, the benefits are realised with each block or unit produced.
Long delivery cycles are known to be a problem for a business, especially if you dominate a fast-moving sector. Agile thinking and agile project management mean fast product release, producing an ability to gauge customer reaction early on in the process. Products or services can then be altered accordingly.
And this means not only faster return on investment but keeping your business one step ahead of the competition. Development starts earlier and producing a functional, ready-to-market product starts not long after. You can take advantage of ‘first mover’, building on business value as you continue to develop and improve the product.
Being agile means delivering faster but without compromising on quality. Within project management, there are many resources and people to coordinate but with a fresh approach and agile thinking, no mountain is too big a climb.