What Is Agile Project Management?

Learn how agile project management can streamline your business processes, promote adaptability and drive project success.

What Is Agile Project ManagementA project management team can boost the chances of success of any new project by implementing an agile approach. By using agile principles as opposed to those of traditional project management, organizations can encourage collaboration and increase client and user engagement. Other benefits of agile project management include:

  • Increased productivity and transparency
  • Business process improvement
  • Higher-quality deliverables
  • Continuous improvement 

Agile project management is most often used for software development projects in healthcare and other sectors, but it is also used for non-IT projects.

Understanding the Basics of Project Management

The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as “the practice of using knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to complete a series of tasks to deliver value and achieve a desired outcome.” A project manager uses agile project management tools and expertise to ensure a project’s needs are met and the desired outcome happens. A few examples of projects include software development, building construction and geographical sales expansion.

Project Management Methodologies

There are many ways to manage a project. Some project management methodologies include:

  • Waterfall
  • Agile
  • Extreme Programming (XP)
  • Six Sigma
  • Critical Path Method (CPM)
  • Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

Organizations choose a specific project management methodology based on their budget, team size, timeline and risk level. Because of the continuous value it delivers, the Agile methodology is one of the most popular project management approaches in use today.

What Is Agile Project Management and How Does It Work?

Agile project management is an iterative approach to project management that is flexible, incremental and non-linear. It relies on customer feedback and ensures benefits are delivered throughout the lifecycle of a project. Other approaches deliver benefits primarily at the end of a project.

Agile project management works by allowing teams to effectively break large projects down into reasonably sized tasks. As a result, the smaller tasks are carried out in brief iterations throughout the project’s lifecycle. This saves time and streamline a team’s workflow. Using Agile methodologies also helps Agile project managers and teams adjust to the ever-changing requirements of a given project. 

Objectives and Principles of Agile

There are 12 core principles of the Agile project management methodology, per the Agile Manifesto. As stated by the Agile Alliance, they are: 

  1. Satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

Agile project management has several objectives. They include defining the vision of a project and starting in a broad direction. Learning and adapting as well as evolving towards the target are also important objectives of this approach.

Popular Agile Project Management Frameworks

There is more than one type of Agile project management approach. For example, Scrum and Kanban are two popular Agile approaches. Each has a specific framework and a unique process.

The Scrum framework outlines a set of practices, values and principles that help a Scrum team deliver a service or product. A Scrum team includes a product owner, responsible for maintaining the product backlog, Scrum Master and developers. The team produces three artifacts and participates in five events. The Scrum framework is explained fully in the Scrum Guide.

The Kanban framework is often used to implement DevOps and Agile software development. Complete transparency of work and real-time communication of capacity are requirements of the framework. The development team applies the framework using a Kanban board to post work items that can be observed visually at all times.

The Scrum framework is best for small Agile teams responsible for projects with changing deliverables and unknown solutions. The Kanban framework is most appropriate for teams dealing with many incoming requests of different sizes.

Agile vs. Other Methods

There are several key differences between Agile project management and traditional forms of project management, such as Waterfall. Compared to other methods, Agile project management prioritizes:

  • Collaboration with customers over contract negotiation
  • Prototyping effective solution over documentation
  • Adapting to changes over following a plan
  • People over tools and processes

Because it allows teams to easily adapt to changing requirements and consistently delivers value throughout the process of completing a project, Agile project management is often the best choice for software development projects.

When to Use Agile Project Management

The best time to use an Agile project management approach is when time-to-market is vital and/or a project is very complex. Also, “Agile project management is most effective when a project’s requirements are not fully discernible from the outset or are likely to evolve over the project’s duration,” according to an article by CIO.

Agile project management is also helpful for projects requiring ongoing feedback.

Why Is Agile Important?

In the age of digital transformation, Agile project management is becoming increasingly important. This is because it enables organizations to seamlessly migrate to a digital workplace and better manage projects. It can even help improve operations across the entire organization.

Agile is also important because it helps development teams stay within a given budget and complete projects on time. Further, Agile makes it easier for the development team and the product owner to communicate, and it boosts customer satisfaction.

Implementing Agile Project Management in Your Business

Agile implementation starts with choosing an Agile method (Scrum, Kanban or another framework). Once you’ve chosen an Agile framework, it’s time to:

  1. Set an end goal. With Agile, you have to start with the end in mind. Consider creating a broad user story for the entire project with a defined end goal.
  2. Schedule a planning meeting with all project teams. This will help you get everyone who needs to be involved in the migration to Agile project management on the same page.
  3. Create a release plan set at regular intervals. Continuous feedback is an important aspect of Agile. By creating a release plan set at regular intervals, you can help ensure feedback is consistently given and considered.
  4. Create a sprint plan. Your first sprint plan can be crafted by considering which feature or product will be released at the end of the sprint. Also, keep in mind what work is needed to get there.

Once an Agile project management approach has been implemented, meet with the project manager often. This will ensure all project teams are on target to complete their projects on time.

Pros and Cons of Agile Project Management and Debunking Myths

We’ve covered many of the pros of using Agile. For example, implementing Agile techniques can:

  • Shift the focus to the needs of customers and stakeholders
  • Minimize resources to reduce waste
  • Increase productivity
  • Boost collaboration
  • Help teams quickly deploy solutions
  • Shorten turnaround times for projects

There are also cons to using Agile methodologies, including limited documentation, insufficient resource planning and fragmented output. Lack of metrics and an inability to maintain good team dynamics with cross-functional teams are other disadvantages.

Believing myths about using Agile practices can keep organizations from choosing the best approach for specific projects. Some of the most common myths regarding the Agile approach to project management are mentioned below.

Myth #1: Agile is the right approach for any project

Agile is a beneficial project management approach, but only for the appropriate projects. It’s not helpful to use Agile for every project.

“I believe agile project management isn’t a silver bullet, but one of many bullets in your armory of change, but with the target to create a value and business outcome-driven delivery approach,” said David Aldridge, PM practice technical coach, Allianz in an article by the Association for Project Management.

For example, tight-budget projects with no time limit, full and fixed business requirements and a requirement to follow a fixed process may be better suited to Waterfall than Agile. 

Myth #2: With Agile, you can skip governance

Another major myth about the Agile approach to project management is that it is not stable and doesn’t need the solid governance traditional methods require. Although Agile project management isn’t as structured as other approaches, it still requires strong governance.

Examples of strong governance include stakeholder alignment, setting clear objectives, establishing purpose and providing documentation.

Myth #3: Agile is solely for software development

Agile is often used for software development projects, but that’s not all it’s good for. The Agile approach to project management can be used for any project that would benefit from consistent delivery, early value realization and a strong focus on customers. However, Agile software development approaches (such as SAFe and Scrum) should be used only on IT projects. 

Agile Project Management Best Practices and Techniques

Agile project management best practices can help ensure a successful outcome for projects. They include but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining charts to monitor progress
  • Encouraging self-organizing teams
  • Using planning meetings to create sprint backlogs
  • Presenting work during sprint reviews
  • Creating release plans
  • Setting realistic project timelines and pacing
  • Estimating the projected velocity
  • Reducing risks by creating spike solutions

It’s also beneficial to give team members regular opportunities to communicate in person and to cross-train team members to make them more adaptable and effective. 

Careers and Job Outlook

Project managers and other project management professionals are in high demand. According to What is Project Management?, 25,000,000 project managers will be needed by 2030 to meet global demands.

Project management job outlook and job growth is significant and predicted at 6% through 2032, reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Project manager jobs tend to be high-paying. According to the BLS, the average project manager salary, or project management specialist average salary, is $95,370 per year.  

According to Coursera, 68% of project managers hold a bachelor’s degree and 14% hold a master’s degree. Common degree focuses include information technology or computer science, information systems or business administration. Most project managers possess project management certifications and have completed project management courses to increase their knowledge and skill sets.

Skills and Responsibilities of Agile Project Managers

An Agile project manager has an important role in scaling Agile. They must guide and coach project teams to succeed. They must help define project scope, keep track of project progress, manage project risks and monitor the development process.

Agile project managers also establish relationships with stakeholders and use Agile tools, such as Initiatives, to manage the progress of projects. Other key responsibilities include:

  • Teaching team members Agile methodologies
  • Promoting compliance
  • Updating stakeholders on project progress
  • Addressing hindrances to team performance
  • Leading team meetings
  • Producing and analyzing project metrics
  • Facilitating delivery of projects while staying within budget, timeline and scope

There are many project management skills an Agile project manager should have, such as risk management, Agile expertise and collaboration. Other key skills are:

  • Organization
  • Problem-solving
  • Creativity
  • Negotiation and accountability
  • Leadership
  • Agile planning
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cybersecurity
  • Team-building
  • Goal setting
  • Budgeting
  • IT management
  • Decision-making
  • Reliability
  • Time management

The most successful Agile project managers also possess strong adaptability skills.

How CompTIA Project+ Can Help

Interested in becoming a project manager, Agile project manager or project management professional? A project management certification like CompTIA Project+ can help you gain the skills you need to get started on a project management career path.

Project management positions are currently plentiful and will remain so in the future. A project-management-focused certification can be extremely beneficial to professionals, including IT specialists, seeking new jobs. 

Check out The New CompTIA Project+: Your Questions Answered and PMP vs. CompTIA.

CompTIA Project+ covers the methodologies, frameworks and Agile skills necessary to manage and deliver information technology projects while taking new topics like change management and compliance into consideration. It is the only industry certification designed to teach IT pros the entry-level skills they need to successfully manage small to medium-sized projects. This can make it a more versatile choice than the Certified Associate in Certification Management (CAPM) or Project Management Professional (PMP).

CompTIA Project+ is valuable because it covers essential project management concepts beyond the scope of just one methodology or framework.

The CompTIA Project+ certification exam covers:

  • Project basics
  • Project constraints
  • Communication and change management
  • Project tools and documentation

Find out how to study for CompTIA Project+.

IT professionals with CompTIA Project+ can confidently manage the project lifecycle and ensure appropriate communication. They can also manage resources and stakeholders as well as maintain project documentation.

The CompTIA Project+ certification is perfect for IT professionals who need to manage smaller, less-complex projects as part of their other job duties but still have foundational project management skills.

 Take a look at some other jobs you can get with CompTIA Project+.

Those who earn CompTIA Project+ could land a role such as:

Test-takers are given 90 minutes to complete 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions. On a scale of 100-900, the passing score is 710. The cost to sit for the exam is $369 USD.

Discover the difference between CompTIA Project+ 004 and 005.

Organizations need project management now more than ever. Get the in-demand skills you need to start a project manager career and help close the talent gap with CompTIA certifications and training solutions. Download the exam objectives for free to see what’s covered.

Ready to get started? Learn the skills you need with CompTIA CertMaster Learn + Labs. Sign up for a free 30-day trial today!

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