Agile Project Management

In an effort to lower costs, improve project outcomes, and reduce project completion times, a group of software developers in 2001 leveraged lean management principles and other continuous improvement methodologies to develop a new approach to project management. This new approach was spelled out in a document entitled the “Agile Manifesto” and from this document a set of 12 Agile Principles were developed to guide the implementation of Agile Project Management (APM).

With APM, a project is completed in stages that last from 1 to 4 weeks. These stages are commonly referred to as iterations, sprints, or milestones. During each stage, project team members are given detailed instructions on the work that is to be completed during the stage. Furthermore, a key element of APM is that the quality of the work for a given
stage must be approved before the next stage can be started. Verifying that the quality standards are met at the end of each stage well positions the project team to identify the causes of problems and make rapid adjustments. In more traditional approaches to pro­ject management, long gaps between the creation and identification of problems can impede correcting the problems.

In contrast to the traditional waterfall approach to project management where pro­gress flows from one stage to another, APM utilizes fixed length stages or iterations. Also, based on lean principles, APM emphasizes maximizing the value of the project as defined by the customer. Another key characteristic of APM is that it incorporates adaptive planning such that the project plan is updated as circumstances change. Table 3-4 further contrasts APM from the traditional waterfall approach.

While APM was originally developed for software development, it has been applied to other areas including product development and engineering. A number of benefits are commonly attributed to APM including:

  • Better project outcomes as a result of issues being identified earlier.
  • Increased customer satisfaction as a result of receiving customer input and feed­back throughout the project.
  • Improved morale of project team members resulting from the use of self-managed teams and having greater autonomy. Furthermore, the short iterations help miti­gate employee burnout.
  • Increased collaboration and project visibility resulting from daily sprint reviews.

With all the attention that APM is receiving, it is important to point out that many of its tenants can be easily incorporated in more traditional project management approaches. For example, there is nothing that prevents increasing customer involve­ment in the traditional waterfall approach. Likewise, there is nothing inherent to tradi­tional project management that prohibits greater experimentation. The point being that rather than viewing APM as an all or nothing approach to project management, there is nothing that precludes a project manager from adopting a subset of APM best practices. Finally, it is worth noting that related to the popularity of APM, the Project Management Institute offers a certification in APM-the Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP).

Source: Meredith Jack R., Mantel Jr. Samuel J., Shafer Scott M., Sutton Margaret M. (2017), Project Management in Practice, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 3th Edition.

2 thoughts on “Agile Project Management

  1. Philomena Palone says:

    You could definitely see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

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