Agile Project Management – A Brief Introduction

Paul Naybour

Agile project management is still extremely popular within the PM industry, especially but not exclusively in IT project management. The problem is, it can feel at times like everyone else knows all about it already, and it’s almost too late to catch up and get on board. If you feel a little left behind by the agile revolution, don’t fret, you’re not alone, and some focused project management courses can help you catch straight up. In the meantime, this useful introduction to agile will help you get started.
What Is It?
The style of agile project management has a direct focus on: delivering high quality products, the contribution of the team, improving on a continual basis, and scope flexibility.
The Key 12 Agile Principles
Within the agile methodology there are 12 key principles which are used as the basis for any team using the system. Following these principles will help you implement an agile project.
1.    Prioritise the customer, ensuring they are satisfied with the software being delivered continually and early.
2.    When change is needed, embrace this, no matter how far along the development stage you are.
3.    Ensure high quality working software is delivered regularly.
4.    Everyone involved in the project must work together every day for the entire scope of the project.
5.    Members of the project should be highly motivated and the project should be built around them. They should be supported and trusted.
6.    The main base of communication within the team should be face to face conversations.
7.    Progress should be measured mainly by delivering working product.
8.    Sustainable development is promoted with agile.
9.    Good design and solid technical skills enhance progress.  
10.    Keep everything simple as much as possible as this minimises the amount of effort and work needed.
11.    Self organisation within a team is a priority.
12.    Reflection should be completed by the whole team regularly. Following reflection, adaptations and adjustment should be made to ensure progress comes from recognising improvements that can be made.

Agile Software Development Manifesto
The Agile Software Development Manifesto is a way to see the values at the heart of agile project management in a simple and easy to understand way. The manifesto is an excellent guide to use when you are looking at using key agile methods during your projects.
Roadmap To Value
The roadmap to value is like a bird’s eye view of the entire agile process. It involves various stages that show what an agile project looks like.
Stage 1 – The product vision is identified. This is where the product is defined. You would also decide how the product benefits the company, and who will use the product created.
Stage 2 – A product roadmap is created to figure out the product requirements and how long those requirements will take to develop.
Stage 3 – A release plan is created which creates a timetable for when a working product is released.
Stage 4 – Iterations, master and product owner begin the creation of the product.
Stage 5 – Daily meetings occur during each sprint (period of time between milestones).
Stage 6 – A sprint review is held to ensure stakeholders have seen the working product.
Stage 8 – A sprint retrospective is held which involves summing up what went well and what didn’t during the current sprint, so that the next one will be better.
Different Roles
Agile project management involves many different roles including a development team, product owner, scrum master, stakeholders and an agile mentor.
To ensure the progress of the project is measured, 6 deliverables are used to track progress. These 6 deliverables are:
1.    Vision Statement – A summary which explains how the product supports the company’s strategies.
2.    Backlog – Requirements for the project in a list, usually in priority order.
3.    Roadmap (Product) – An overview of the requirements of the product, including information about when those requirements will be developed
4.    Release Plan – A detailed timetable explaining when a working product will be released
5.    Sprint Backlog – This involves all the information related to the sprint currently taking place
6.    Increment – How functional the product is at the end of the sprint
Events In The Agile Project Calendar
Nearly all types of projects have different stages, and agile has 7 of these:
1.    Planning The Project – The same as most projects only the roadmap and product vision are created. This stage of planning is usually much faster with agile, sometimes within as little as a day.
2.    Release Planning – Launch date and product feature release are planned one at a time.
3.    Sprint – This is the time between each milestone which is always the same length throughout the entire project. Usually the sprint will (or should) be no longer than 4 weeks at a time.
4.    Sprint Planning – The time before each sprint where the team meets to discuss sprint goals, how they can be accomplished and then commits to them.
5.    Daily Scrum – This is a short meeting held on every day of a sprint where the team discusses what was finished the day before, what will be done today and whether or not there are any issues stopping them progressing.
6.    Sprint Review – This is a meeting at the conclusion of each sprint section where the team shows the product’s functionality.
7.    Sprint Retrospective – The meeting that takes place at the conclusion of the sprint where the team discusses what went wrong, what went well and what needs to change moving forward.
Need More Help Understanding Agile?
Hopefully this has provided you with a very basic understanding of just some of the core agile fundamentals. It is a truly fantastic way of working, and a methodology that has been and is being used by some of the top organisations in the world. If you’re still struggling to understand what it is all about, or you really want to extend your expertise in this area of project management, consider taking some specific project management courses to enable you to understand this type of project management. A more detailed and structured approach to agile is necessary to enable a person to not only understand it in full, but benefit from its processes in full.

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