Eight benefits every business should know about agile project management
Agile project methodology or agile project management are often terms that are batted about in the digital sphere. As more organisations move through digital transformation and need to know how to best navigate the landscape, management tools and best practices become a high priority to achieving business goals and maximising budget.
What is agile project methodology?
Agile project methodology is a process that helps teams provide a quick, iterative and incremental method of management. Typically, agile project methodology is delivered in regular meetings, called ‘sprints’ or iterations. This approach is used widely and adopted by technological giants like Google, who coined the ‘Design Sprint’ to help maximise the time spent identifying what concepts are of most value to a business before jumping into the development phase.
Agencies that adopt this approach are successfully collaborating with organisations to develop projects more efficiently and can work together more coherently. As agile project management focuses on empowering teams to deliver projects in an evolving landscape, it creates opportunities to assess a project’s direction during the development cycle. Teams can review feedback from stakeholders and other members of the delivery team and fine-tune details without wasting resource. Whether your project is a big step in your organisation’s digital transformation strategy, that involves building multilingual websites or investing in the latest version of your website platform, or adding new features, i.e. personalisation, using the right project management framework is pivotal in the project’s success.
Getting agile project methodology right
Whilst many organisations have jumped on the agile band wagon, a common pitfall is not having the teams and training in place to ensure a firm grasp on the process and its benefits. Without this investment in training and commitment to best practice, projects can end up over budget, over schedule, whilst not providing value to clients and their users. No development project is the same and each businesses’ needs can vary. The digital agency delivering the projects must be equipped to tackle these complexities and gain a deep understanding of the client’s goals, challenges, industry, and expectations.
Applying agile project methodology can dramatically improve results and boost client satisfactions. With agile projects reported to be 28% more successful than traditional projects, it’s no surprise that 71% of organisation report to using this management framework.
Food for thought
Doing agile development is a lot like running a restaurant, everyone has their own specific tasks to do, but they have to work together to ensure all the tasks unite at the right time. Just as chefs make a variety of meals based on what the customers want each day, the team of product owners, project managers, designers, marketers and developers have to deliver on each aspect of the project. The team is only successful when a high-quality product is delivered on time to the customer.
If we consider the process and workflow in a restaurant, it starts with a food order and the waiting staff taking the customer’s order, which the kitchen staff then works to create. In development, the clients might ask for the products they would like developed, providing their user stories and requirements. The agile team then take those user stories and identify how to develop all the products to an achievable timescale that can be shared across the various business teams.
An effective approach is to group these stories into features which can be delivered to clients to test functionality in the correct context. These features are prioritised so that the first things that need to get done, get done first.
This approach to agile project methodology comes with a series of benefits:
1. Stakeholder Engagement
This process provides multiple opportunities for stakeholder and team engagement – before, during, and after each sprint. By involving the client in every step of the project, there is a high degree of collaboration between the agency and the client. This provides more opportunities for the team to truly understand the client’s vision. Delivering products early and frequently helps to build the stakeholders’ trust in the agile team’s ability to deliver high-quality work.
An agile approach provides a unique opportunity for clients to be involved throughout the project in aspects like:
- prioritising features
- iteration planning
- review sessions
- frequent software builds containing new features.
Agencies that deliver agile project methodology effectively will have brief daily catch ups, known as scrums, with their clients to keep communication channels open for ongoing feedback. Agencies proficient in delivering agile projects will sometimes provide clients with access to the product backlog where they can check progress and ensure build is meeting the right expectations. However, this also requires clients to understand that they are seeing a work in progress in exchange for this added benefit of transparency.
In agile projects sprints are typically a two-week period where the developers work on their assigned tasks so that everything is completed in time for the next sprint. Just as a Head Chef in a restaurant delegates individual tasks to the kitchen staff, work is split between a team of developers to deliver different aspects of a project During the scrum process, developers commit to the tasks they will deliver for the next sprint. The benefits of this are:
3. Early and Predictable Delivery
By using time-boxed, fixed schedule sprints of two weeks, new features are delivered quickly and frequently, with a high level of predictability.
4. Predictable Costs and Schedule
Because each sprint is a fixed duration, the cost is predictable and limited to the amount of work that can be performed by the team in the fixed-schedule time box. The combination of these factors with the estimates provided to the clients prior to each sprint, means the client is well equipped to understand the approximate cost of each feature. This improves decision making about the priority of features and the need for additional iterations.
5. Allows for Change
While the team needs to stay focused on delivering an agreed-to subset of features during each iteration, there is an opportunity to constantly refine and reprioritise the overall product backlog. New or changed backlog items can be planned for the next or upcoming iteration.
That way collaborative teams can:
6. Focus on business value
By working with clients to determine the priority of features, agile project teams can understand what’s most important to the client’s business and deliver the features that provide the most business value.
Retrospective sessions are often then used for teams to share feedback during the development work as well as at the end of each sprint. This continues throughout the project lifecycle until each sprint is completed and the product is delivered. This means quality is always being reviewed and improved upon.
7. Improves Quality
By breaking down the project into manageable features, project teams can focus on high quality development, testing, and collaboration. Also, by producing frequent releases and conducting testing and reviews during each iteration, quality is improved by finding and fixing defects quickly and identifying any mismatched expectation early.
Keeping the customer at the forefront of any delivery helps in building trust between the clients and agency, as well as ensuring that the end result meet their needs and potentially evolving requirements.
8. Focuses on users
Applying agile project methodology commonly uses user stories with business-focused acceptance criteria to define product features. By focusing features on the needs of real users, each feature delivers added value to the overall business
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