How the Agile Method Can Drive Better Project Results
With recent advances in technology, the world seems to be on hyperdrive. To keep up, businesses must constantly innovate and get services and products to market faster than the competition. One way to tackle this challenge is by applying the agile method to project management. Agile has been adopted by almost all software developers as a way to continuously improve throughout the development and product life cycle by working in short, collaborative sprints.
Agile Method for All
The software industry may have dibs on agile’s genesis, but other sectors are now using the method to drive better, faster collaboration among team members and to speed time to market. Industries as varied as marketing, advertising, finance, education and construction make use of agile methodology.
Not only does agile empower organizations on a larger scale, but it can also be adopted by specific departments within the enterprise. In a survey by Workfront, 30 percent of marketers reported currently using agile methods to manage their work, and 32 percent stated that other departments within their companies also use agile to manage work.
According to Pyxis Technologies, about 61 percent of organizations and industries that adopt an agile approach to managing projects achieve better visibility of a project’s progress, about 58 percent achieve greater flexibility, and just over half have seen the method increase productivity in their development team.
Agile vs. Traditional Project Management
Traditional waterfall project management defines the projects goals, executes on those goals and then evaluates based on the end product. With the agile approach, teams meet frequently to collaborate and hold micromeetings that typically last no longer than 10 minutes. Even on large projects, work gets divided into one- or two-week sprints, with the expectation that certain tasks will be accomplished within each sprint. Project goals and the execution toward them can change from sprint to sprint based on stakeholder feedback and any challenges that arise.
The agile method allows teams to effectively manage changes throughout the project, as each sprint incorporates feedback from the previous sprint and continues to iterate on a product or service. This strategy drives continuous improvement and allows teams to better meet customer needs and get products to market more quickly than with the traditional approach.
A Hybrid Approach
Despite the benefits of agile, it’s not always the perfect fit. Agile teams within an organization may need to work with other teams that use a more traditional waterfall approach to project management.
In the case where agile makes sense for one team but not another, organizations can take a hybrid approach — allowing each team to work within the project management methodology that best suits their needs. While agile has its own terminology, when working in a hybrid environment, agile teams should translate the terminology into a common language. For example, agile tasks are called stories, and the time required to complete a task is tallied in points rather than hours or days.
Each organization and industry will need to determine what approach to project management is right for them. However, given the competitive environment most businesses operate in, the agile method provides a mode to constantly improve while getting products and services to market ahead of the competition. This makes agile a compelling alternative and one more organizations should at least consider.