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Agile – The ability to be adaptable

Conceptually this makes sense in software development. Changing requirements can derail a software development project. Yet there are always changes, and therefore small incremental software releases that build out a product and get in front of the product owner quickly makes sense. Changes can be adapted to quickly rather than re-designing from the ground up.

How about agile project management?

Changing direction on any project can derail the project. The pace of change in today’s world makes it difficult to absorb and manage scope, schedule and budget for successful project delivery.
Agile project management principles allow for flexibility rather than the rigidity of traditional project management methodologies.
The principles behind ‘agile’ is to ‘go live’ with a minimal set of functions to derive an early ROI. Agile processes use self-organizing teams, a rapid pace, and decreased emphasis on detailed planning to allow for flexibility in managing projects.

The project manager works with the customer to ensure that the product backlog is visible and everyone understands that it directs the team to the most profitable and valuable work possible. The project manager uses product increments and demonstrations of working functionality to keep everyone aware of real progress against goals, commitments, and vision of the product.

Traditional plan-driven software methodology uses a command-and-control approach to project management. A project plan is created that lists all known tasks. The project manager’s job then becomes one of enforcing the plan. Changes to the plan are typically handled through “change control “ that add so much bureaucracy that delivery is slowed to the pace that the plan-driven methodology can accommodate.

Agile project management, on the other hand, is much more about leadership than about management. Instead of creating a detailed plan showing the sequence of all activities the agile project manager works with the customer to layout a common understanding from which collaboration can occur. The agile project manager puts forward the vision and then leads the project team to achieve the plan.

Agile project management continuously evaluates time and cost as primary constraints. Rapid feedback, continuous adaptation are built into the team’s schedules, ensuring quality deliverables.

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