Agile Project Management Beyond the Basics


Agile project management has gained quite a bit of traction in recent years thanks to its ability to deliver faster, more efficient results when compared to more traditional project management methodologies like Waterfall or linear. The Agile project management’s iterative and collaborative approach allows teams to respond rapidly to changing requirements and customer feedback. Anyone who works in development knows just how frustrating or tricky changing these aspects of a project on-demand is in an active project. Thus, Agile results in higher quality products and increased customer satisfaction levels.

However, as with any methodology or technology, there’s always room for further improvements and optimizations. Also, it’s customizable or optimized for specific industries and project types as needed, as well as scaled for larger teams or organizations. 

Before getting started with this project management method, companies and team leaders must delve deeper into the subject and explore the advanced strategies and techniques beyond the basics of Agile. They should also take the time to learn how to avoid the common pitfalls that many companies fall victim to when trying to implement an Agile environment for the first time.

Optimizing Agile for Maximum Agility

From construction to software development, Agile project management is truly applicable to nearly every industry or project type. However, different industries and projects come with unique requirements or constraints which require consideration before trying to implement an Agile management situation for the benefit of both the project owner and the team building it. For example, the way teams apply Agile practices to software development may differ from the way marketing teams apply them. 

One way to optimize Agile for specific industries or projects is to tailor the Agile framework to meet the specific needs of the project at hand. Team leaders do this by customizing the Agile process, tools, and techniques used to fit the project’s requirements. For example, for a software development project, the team will need to focus more on technical requirements and testing, while a marketing campaign typically requires more emphasis on customer research and creative brainstorming.

Another way to optimize Agile for specific industries or projects is by using industry-specific frameworks or standards. For example, the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) is a form of Agile specifically for large enterprises. It’s great for scaling Agile practices across multiple teams and departments. The Disciplined Agile (DA) framework, on the other hand, is a great option for more complex and regulated industries such as finance and healthcare.

Scaling Agile for Larger Teams or Organizations

Team leaders and project managers sometimes encounter a few bumps in the road when it comes to scaling Agile practices for large teams and organizations. As the number of team members, stakeholders, and client representatives grows, communication and coordination across all parties sometimes mimic herding cats rather than managing an organized workflow until these teams learn how to use Agile to their advantage. 

One way for teams to scale Agile practices in order to use them effectively for such project management is simply using Agile tools aimed at large teams. These tools focus more on providing a centralized platform for multiple teams or many team members. They help track progress and assist in work coordination across teams and even companies. Examples of excellent tools for such situations include Jira, Rally, and Digital.ai (formerly known as VersionOne).

Another successful way to scale Agile project management, as larger teams need, is by adopting a more formal approach to management. Teams do this by using a scaled Agile framework like the previously mentioned SAFe. This framework provides teams with more structured approaches and guidance in scaling Agile for larger enterprises. SAFe, for example, includes a set of formal guidelines and best practices for coordinating work across multiple Agile teams. It also features tools for managing dependencies and tracking progress for extra assistance.

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Avoiding Common Agile Pitfalls

Although Agile practices are super popular in project management thanks to their many benefits, it doesn’t mean the methodology doesn’t come with its own issues, mainly in regard to implementation. Before trying to implement these practices, team leaders should understand the common pitfalls that teams must avoid in order to succeed. 

Embracing Agile best practices

One of the most common pitfalls is the failure to embrace the principles and practices of Agile to their full extent. For instance, some team members might resist change and continue to work in a more traditional manner. This approach undermines the effectiveness of Agile practices, which then leads to slower delivery times, decreased quality, and increased customer dissatisfaction. To avoid this pitfall, team leaders should encourage their teams to embrace Agile principles and practices fully, which includes cross-functional collaboration, iterative work, and continuous feedback.

Educating team members

Another common pitfall is failing to train and educate team members on Agile practices. Agile requires a different mindset and way of working than traditional project management, and team members typically require training on Agile principles and practices in order to achieve success. Failing to provide adequate training and education leads to confusion, a lack of alignment, and lower-quality deliverables. Organizations should provide regular training and resources to help team members understand and implement Agile practices effectively.

Proper planning and coordination

Finally, failing to plan and coordinate work may also lead to failure when implementing Agile practices. Agile requires a more iterative and collaborative approach to planning and execution, and teams align themselves on priorities and dependencies to get things done. Without proper planning and coordination, teams end up missing deadlines, misaligning priorities, and decreasing productivity. Team leaders should establish clear priorities, develop realistic timelines, and use the proper project management tools to set their teams up for success with this new method.

Agile: There’s No Going Back

Although Agile project management requires extra time in order to set teams and companies up for success, there’s no doubt that this form of project management is here to stay. Teams of all sizes, from small startups to large enterprises, all benefit from this practice. Even large outsourcing companies like BairesDev use Agile practices on a daily basis. 

If company leaders remain on the fence about whether making the jump to Agile is worth it, the answer is definitely a yes.

About the Author: Chris Taylor

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Chris is a Business Development Manager at BairesDev, in charge of improving and growing relationships with customers, suppliers, and other partners. His knack for strategic planning makes him a great team leader with valuable reach across all areas of the business. Chris combines his experience in sales, business, and technology to write intriguing articles for BairesDev’s blog and other reputable media outlets. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the IT industry working in various capacities.