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What Is Agile Project Management - 5 Tips For Success

Projects in any workplace rarely go according to plan. With bumps, mishaps and sometimes revelations along the way, objectives and goals can change – and this isn’t always a bad thing.

In this blog, we discuss agile project management, a method of project management that has been designed to work specifically with the inconsistencies of a project rather than against. We’ll also include our top 5 tips for success, to ensure you’re setting off on the right foot.

What is Agile Project Management?

The Association for Project Management (APM) describe agile project management to be an iterative approach to delivering a project throughout its lifecycle. This means that projects are split into smaller pieces, known as sprints, which create space for adaptations, collaboration and changing requirements.

Agile project management allows work to be completed in small, manageable batches, making room for reviewing and critiquing at every stage of a project. The reasoning behind this is to establish improvements and benefits at all points, rather than just at the end.

Agile project management differs from project management when making room for adjustments and feedback from the customer or client. Agile project management focuses more on responsiveness and adaptability.

What are the 12 guiding principles of agile project management?

The 12 guiding principles are an essential part of the agile manifesto and are principles that every agile project manager should be familiar with. Let’s discuss them.

Satisfy the customer

Agile working allows for continuous results and better delivery. Your customers satisfaction must take priority above everything else.

Changing environments should be supported

With the objective to create competitive edge in all cases, agile project management encourages change at all stages of activity, even if it’s close to the end.

Frequent delivery of value and results

Agile project management creates space for regular and ongoing delivery of results and value. As projects are broken down into smaller chunks, it’s at the end of these chunks that your customer, client or manager will expect tangible working deliveries.

The benefit of this principle is to gather feedback such as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats at each stage.

Break silos and foster collaboration

Cross-departmental conversation is the backbone of agile project management, and it is when departments and teams connect, that results happen. Misalignment of any kind could hinder performance and with value and results required frequently by customers, it’s vital that silos in teams don’t exist.

Build projects around motivated people

Agile project management centres around authority, confidence and accountability. Individuals of working teams must feel encouraged to take initiative, feel motivated by change and supported through hardship. Allowing space for autonomy, innovation and collaboration will highly increase your likelihood of successful delivery for your customer.

Prioritise face to face interactions

In this virtual world, it’s in fact quite easy to go days without having a face-to-face conversation. With less chance of misunderstandings, an opportunity to read body language and gauge peoples real opinions, face-to-face team meetings are vital when it comes to agile project management, specifically when adapting to change quickly.  

Ensure sustainability at all costs

Maintaining a sustainable workplace environment is one of the main priorities of agile project management and to deliver consistent high-quality results, a steady pace of work must be implemented. This means reducing overtime, optimising strengths and weaknesses and educating team members on change, so they feel confident making adaptations when necessary.

Burnout will kill motivation and motivation is vital in agile project management.

Pay continuous attention to technical excellence and good design

With continuous attention comes enhanced agility. To keep projects evolving, reviewing of all technical moving parts should happen often and in a collaborative way. Delivering high quality results is more likely if problems are spotted and solved early.

Focus on simplicity

To optimise efficiency, simplicity must be emphasised. Simplicity can take place in the form of:

  • Reducing the number of tasks that do not add value
  • Starting with a basic objective or goal and adding to it throughout the process
  • Finding the best possible outcome for the littlest amount of effort

Simplicity ensures maintenance and adaptability, so try not to overcomplicate things as you go, making a conscious effort to be clear and concise when providing instructions.

Create and use self-organising teams

Individuals become confident in their ability when given autonomy, religiously backed on their decisions and allowed space to act independently. Self-organised teams encourage each of these things, as agility works best when people feel safe and trusted.  

Regularly reflect, review and encourage intervals

Agile frameworks work best when they are consistently being reviewed, reworked and adapted to suit a specific client or project. Making space for these moments is important, as well as allowing time for changes to be made. Reflecting will also increase productivity, ensure protocols aren’t being followed for the sake of it and better outcomes can be achieved.

Now you know the 12 principles of Agile Project Management, how do you ensure that you’re on the path to success?

Tip 1) Train employees thoroughly

Agile project management focuses on sharing, collaboration and feedback. All of these things will essentially be impossible if employees aren’t trained on how to manage tasks and feedback correctly. Professional workshops and training courses may also be necessary to teach individuals how to:  

  • Manage resources and their time adequately
  • Craft questions which will result in helpful feedback
  • Encourage collaboration when differ of opinion arises

Tip 2) Don’t forget about risk management

Regardless of the project, customer or skills and knowledge at hand, risks can still occur, and proper risk management must be undertaken. Risk management in agile project management includes these four steps:

  • Risk identification: pinpointing potential risks and which are most likely to occur
  • Assessment creation: categorising risks by using the PESTEL framework
  • Considering responses: four broad risk responses include avoid, mitigate, transfer and accept
  • Analysing reviews: analyse assessments and responses, focussing on probability and impact.

Tip 3) Focus on the outcome, rather than principles

Ryan Vice, Co-Founder of Vice Software LLC says it’s important from the get-go to focus on the outcome, rather than the principles when working on an agile project. He then explains further that it’s incredibly easy to lose track of goals and second guess your decisions during the process so actively trying to bring focus back to the outcome you want to achieve will help everyone remain motivated and on track.

Tip 4) Respect client or company deliverables

Responsible for more than just the payment, the client is an integral part of any agile project management team. This includes:

  • Discussing risks openly and collaboratively with the client instead of hiding them, as a way of trying to mitigate them before they appear
  • Reporting results often and in a timely manner
  • Actively taking on board what the client’s preferences are, rather than your own
  • Delivering a high-quality product that correctly meets the requirements they have set out

Tip 5) Be mindful of waste, in all circumstances

Referring to principle number 8, ensuring sustainability at all costs, agile project management is about achieving the best results, in the most cost-effective and sustainable way. Reducing waste can include:

  • Allocating team members and skills correctly
  • Optimising the MoSCoW method (must have, should have, could have, won’t have)
  • Following a continuous improvement mindset
  • Encouraging autonomy and ownership where possible

Is project management worth it? What are the benefits?

Guaranteed customer satisfaction

Some may say that the customer calls the shot when it comes to agile project management and while work is continuously collaborative, customer satisfaction is vital to the success of any agile project.

Reducing waiting times for customers, promoting value and practising effective results make agile project management more of a customer-centric approach to managing.

Effective use of resources

Agile project management homes in on sustainable working, regular intervals and continuous attention. Because of this, resources both people and practical are utilised more efficiently, to make sure time, money and expertise is not wasted.

Amplified collaboration

Everyone in an agile project management team will have a reason to be there. This means that teams can collaborate in the most effective way, as everyone there will hold their own set of necessary skills and knowledge that are vital to the success of the project.

Agile Project Management

With happier working teams, stronger results and less of a strain on resources, agile project management has risen in popularity, and we suspect this to continue as we move forward in the new world of work.


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