Agile project management is one of the most popular project management methodologies today. It’s a way to work that is much more effective in today’s highly competitive environment. It offers a more cost-effective method to manage projects by breaking a project from start to finish into a series of user stories.
What is Agile Project Management?
Agile is defined as the ability to move quickly and easily. In the workplace, agility means just the same. It refers to flexible and pliable task management methods. Agile Project Management is characterized by the division of tasks into smaller segments and frequent reassessment of adaptation plans. While widely used in software development, the agile method is becoming prominent in the Engineering sector as well.
The Origin of Agile Project Management
In an attempt to find new ways to manage the complex processes of software development, the Agile Methodology was conceived. An innovative approach was needed to minimize project completion times and absolute project failure. Agile Project Management has come a long way since and is now widely used across all industries and markets. Syncroness, an engineering firm in the U.S, has successfully combined the agile method with the Industrial V cycle in several of its projects.
The importance of agility in the workplace
Swift and efficient response to unforeseen circumstances can eliminate the loss of productivity and turnover, thus making agile project management imperative. Due to the fast-paced nature of business operations today, this methodology virtually diminishes the chances of complete project failure.
4 Best Agile Practices for Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
The 4 most impactful tools, as highlighted by Syncroness, are incremental development, visual task boards, daily stand ups and to demonstrate value often.
1. Incremental Development
Each task or ‘sprint’ has clearly defined objectives, this includes the sub-tasks involved in each sprint. Prioritisation of work segments reduces risk and results in a clearer understanding of project goals. Feedback throughout the process is encouraged and modifications can be executed as and when required.
2. Visual Task Boards
A dashboard is an effective method of communication between the engineers involved in the project. They can track progress and communicate task status with ease. The categories that are generally included on a visual task board are “Approved”, “In Progress”, “Blocked”, “In Review” and “Complete”. The goal is to move from approved status to complete status.
3. Daily Stand Ups
Brief 15-minute meetings, standing up, are carried out regularly by the team to identify problems and assess possible solutions. The focus of stand ups should be updates on each team members progress, the next task at hand and managing “blocking”.
4. Demonstrate Value Often
Frequent stakeholder engagement and demonstration of the latest features of a specific sprint enables improvement and understanding of the final design.
The Agile Manifesto
The Agile Manifesto was developed in 2001. This document identifies the 4 key values and 12 key principles which are meant to be used as a guide to achieve agile project management.
12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto
A Comprehensive Guide to the Agile Manifesto highlights the key principles of the Agile Manifesto as:
- Customer satisfaction through early and continuous software delivery.
- Accommodate changing requirements throughout the development process.
- Frequent delivery of working software.
- Collaboration between the business stakeholders and developers throughout the project.
- Support, trust, and motivate the people involved.
- Enable face-to-face interactions.
- Working software is the primary measure of progress.
- Agile processes to support a consistent development pace.
- Attention to technical detail and design enhances agility.
- Self-organizing teams encourage great architectures, requirements, and designs.
- Regular reflections on how to become more effective.
5 benefits of Agile Project Management
- Greater Product Quality: Integrated testing allows for regular assessments and identification of areas of improvement.
- Risk Reduction: A viable project is developed from the onset.
- Increased Visibility into Project Performance: Frequent meetings and continuous updates allow for team members to stay up to date with progress and increased transparency.
- Heighten Project Control: Greater opportunities to test and adapt the project become available.
- Project Predictability: Breakdown of the project into smaller segments or tasks allow for accurate costing, timeline predictions and resource allocation.