Agile Project Management (AgilePM®) methodology
To understand the Agile project management (AgilePM®) methodology, let us first look at the meaning of methodology. A methodology is a set of principles, practices, and theories that govern a given profession. That said, the Agile Alliance defines Agile as “the ability to create and respond to change in order to succeed in an uncertain and turbulent environment”. It is the capacity to adjust and deliver projects speedily to meet your customer needs. Therefore Agile Project Management (Agile PM) is about delivering successful managing projects in a volatile and uncertain environment.
The AgilePM® methodology consists of some basic components that make up DSDM. They are broken down into the following:
Philosophy describes the way we do things. That said, the AgilePM® methodology is based on the ‘ DSDM philosophy’ which states “best business value emerges when projects align with clear business goals, deliver frequently and involve the collaboration of motivated and empowered people.” Eight principles support the AgilePM® philosophy. These principles build the mindset and behaviors necessary to bring the philosophy alive.
Table of Contents
Agile Business Consortium’s eight principles for effective Agile project delivery guide the AgilePM® methodology. These eight principles include the following:
Focus on the business need
It is essential to note that a project is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Therefore, decisions taken during a project should be mindful of the overriding project goal. Important practices such as timeboxing and MoSCoW prioritization, enable Agile teams to effect this principle.
Deliver on time
Timely delivery is one desirable outcome of many projects. Late delivery can be detrimental to a project, especially when it involves market opportunities or legal deadlines.
Collaboration encourages active cooperation and commitment in teams. This would, in turn, lead to better understanding, greater speed and shared ownership among team members. Consequently, the collaboration will enable teams to better deliver successful projects.
Never compromise quality
In AgilePM®, project stakeholders should agree on the quality of the product from the onset. In turn, every work the Agile team does should aim towards achieving that level of quality. This is because the product or solution has to be ‘good enough’. That is, it should meet the agreed acceptance criteria.
Build incrementally from firm foundations
To do this, first, understand the project scope and objective. Once you identify the project scope and objective, then you can deliver your product or solution incrementally. This process will ensure that you deliver real business benefit early enough.
Change is inevitable, as a result, it is important to recognize that projects operate within a changing world. Therefore, it is very unlikely to deliver products perfectly the first time. This is why the concept of iteration is at the heart of everything developed in Agile Project Management.
Communicate continuously and clearly
Poor communication among team members and project stakeholders is usually the cause of project failure. Hence, Agile PM encourages effective communication during a project lifecycle. Agile teams can achieve effective communication through standup meetings, workshops, modeling, among others.
To demonstrate control during a project, you have to first be in control of the project. Agile project managers can demonstrate control by referring to a plan for the ongoing work which must clearly align with the business objectives.
Processes describe the way we deliver over time. Also, these processes support the philosophy and principles of AgilePM®. It consists of four major phases which are:
Involves the steps taken to establish if a further investigation of the proposed project should be carried out or if the whole project should be stopped
Steps Agile teams take to establish a basic understanding of the business objectives for the project, the potential solution that the project will create, and how to manage the development and delivery of the solution.
Evolutionary Development Phase
This phase builds on the foundation that has been set before it. In this phase, project teams work iteratively and react to changing requirements by developing the products or solutions incrementally (bit-by-bit).
The objective of the Deployment phase is to bring the evolving solution or product into operational use. Therefore, any deployed solution may be final, or a major part of the final solution.
The Agile project methodology also adopts the DSDM practices or techniques to achieve project solutions. The following are some of the DSDM techniques used in Agile Project Management:
Timeboxing is an approach for completing projects incrementally by breaking it down into project deliverables, each with a fixed budget and a delivery date.
In a project involving fixed time and budget, it is necessary to understand the importance of work prioritization in relation to progress and keeping to deadlines. Therefore, if a project is running out of time or money the requirements with the lowest priority are omitted. MoSCoW is a prioritization technique that helps Agile teams to understand and manage priorities. It is an acronym for:
During projects, it is important to involve the collaboration of motivated and empowered people during projects. These people are also known as stakeholders. To prevent ambiguity, they should understand the business objectives from the outset. Thus, Facilitated Workshops brings project stakeholders together to discuss requirements, functionalities and develop a mutual understanding of the business objectives.
This is a process where the evolving solution, or a part of it, develops from a high-level concept to something of recognizable business value. Each Iterative Development cycle intends to produce an incremental change to the project deliverable. This brings the product/solution, or part of it, increasingly closer to being “done”. Therefore, as Iterative Development progresses, it is important to keep the agreed acceptance criteria for the product, in mind. This practice ensures that the project team achieves the required quality without complicating the solution.
To communicate continuously and clearly with stakeholders, it involves choosing a suitable means for communication and using a format and style that project stakeholders can clearly understand. This is where modeling techniques come in. Modeling helps to make components of the solution clear as early as possible. Also, modeling can include the use of diagrams, prototypes, or acting out a new process to be supported by a new IT system.
Multiple deliverables are usually under development at the same time and should be delivered incrementally at the end of each time-box. Hence, Agile teams need to well manage these deliverables to ensure the successful completion of the project.
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