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What You Need To Know About The Agile Project Management

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Agile Project Management

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The agile methodology helps your project management team accomplish your goals. And as the Project Management Institute releases the new PMP exam content outline early next year, you can also expect to see this approach in the actual PMP exam.

Around 50% of the questions in the new exam content outline will be about agile and hybrid approaches. It’s important for project managers to learn the basic principles of agile not only as part of your PMP exam preparation if you plan to take it next year, but also to further your career in project management.

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile Project Management (APM) is an iterative approach in planning and guiding project processes. It uses short development cycles called “sprints” to focus on continuous improvement of a product or service.

The iterative or agile life cycle involves a number of steps towards the completion of a project. This approach is usually used in software development projects to promote adaptability since this allows you to adjust your plan as you go further rather than sticking to a linear path.

Differences between traditional waterfall project management vs agile

One of the most common discussions when starting a project is the methodology you should use for implementation. And there are two basic and most popular methodologies project managers are looking into: the traditional waterfall and agile approach.

Both of these are usable methodologies. But they have their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to project management.

Waterfall or Traditional Approach

Waterfall is a linear approach used in project management. This means team members follow a specific sequence of processes when implementing a project. Here are some characteristics of a traditional waterfall project.

  • A detailed, long project is planned with a single timeline.
  • Changes in deliverables are discouraged and costly.
  • Project managers use a contract-based approach to scope and requirements.
  • Project managers and clients agree on what will be delivered in the early stage of the development process.
  • You can easily measure progress.
  • Full scope of the project is determined in advance. 
  • It’s possible for other team members to get involved in a project depending on the current phase.
  • Project managers practice a linear-based approach which creates dependencies.

Agile Approach

Agile project management is a team-based approach to development and emphasizes the rapid delivery of a project. Instead of creating tasks and schedules, agile project managers use short development cycles called “sprints” to focus on continuous improvement of a product or service.

The best thing in agile is that the customer can see the progress from time to time after the project has started and can change the delivery of the project as the process goes on.

This approach is the opposite of the traditional waterfall approach. Some characteristics of an agile project are:

  • Shorter planning based on iterations and multiple deliveries
  • Uses flexible and cross-functional team
  • It’s possible to have some changes in deliverables
  • Customers are involved throughout the sprint
  • Project managers practice a concurrent approach to reduce dependencies

Hybrid Approach

A new project management methodology, the hybrid approach now gains popularity and acceptance. It combines the agile principles with the work breakdown structure to create a new project management methodology that fits all projects.

The most interesting part in hybrid approach is that it lets project teams to plan before implementing the project, but also divides the cycle into short-term deliverables called sprints.

Hybrid approach can also adapt to changes throughout the project implementation, just like agile. But in this approach, planning is done using the traditional waterfall approach.

What are the benefits of Agile project management?

The agile methodology perfectly addresses customer needs. User involvement is encouraged during the whole process and agile project managers adapt to possible changes throughout the implementation of a project. 

Here are some of the benefits of agile project management.

Higher Customer Satisfaction

Agile project managers satisfy their clients by making them involved and engaged during the whole course of project implementation. The progress of a project development has high visibility and flexibility to change so clients will be able to oversee everything and point out something they want to adjust.

High Product Quality

Agile methodologies have excellent security to make sure quality is as high as possible. Project managers take a proactive approach to quality to prevent product problems. They also embrace technological excellence, good design, and sustainable development.

In agile project management, there are tests integrated during the project which means there are regular checkups to see if the product is working properly throughout its development. This also enables project owners to make necessary changes and makes sure team members are aware of any issues.

Reduced Risks

The agile methodology eliminates the chance of risks and failures through developing in sprints, maintaining a short time between initial project investment and either failing fast or knowing whether a project will work or not.

Also, a working product always starts with the first sprint to make sure no agile project will fail. Agile team members are able to react to emerging changes which reduces the risk of a project failure.

When managing agile projects, the focus is on breaking the tasks into smaller pieces that bring value to the client instead of having a huge batch of work. These small, actionable deliverables are being continuously released in the market without waiting for everything to be completed.

Increased Collaboration

The development team, project owner and the scrum master work together on a daily basis to monitor the progress of an agile project. They also hold daily scrum meetings to organize the completed work, future work and roadblocks.

From there, team members will be able to determine the necessary steps or adjustments when things get rough during the project implementation.

Improved Performance Visibility

Performance visibility in project management is vital. Without a visible process, it will be difficult to adapt to emerging changes and measuring performance indicators.

One of the most important benefits of agile project management is the creation of transparent work processes. This will help you foresee possible risks, get your team members on the same page, and respond to changes as soon as possible.

Pros and Cons of Agile Project Management

In agile project management, the deliverables are often produced around short iterations. Also, requirements are defined around each step, rather than at the beginning of a project.

Because of this, plans and actions might be changed and adjusted based on the current status of the project. This means that team members and project managers can alter the original plan if they see better options.

Any project can benefit from agile. However, let’s take a close look at the pros and cons of this project management approach.

agile-pros-and-cons-table

Popular Agile Methodologies

The agile methodology is a people-focused and results-focused project management approach. It revolves around adaptive planning, self-organization and short delivery times. It’s flexible and fast, and there are different agile methodologies you can use.

Scrum

Agile scrum methodology is a project management framework that allows effective collaboration between teams–it also relies on continuous improvement. Each iteration consists of two to four sprints, and each sprint aims to build the most important features before coming up to a possible deliverable.

The most important benefit of this methodology is that it encourages deliverables to be processed faster. This also requires frequent planning and goal setting to make sure scrum teams focus on a specific objective.

Kanban

Kanban is another popular methodology used in agile project management. This requires full communication between project teams and clients and total transparency of work. Tasks are visually presented in a kanban board so team members can easily see the current state of the project anytime.

One of the main reasons why Kanban is popular is because of its visual presentation. This allows team members to understand the workflow better and correlate tasks. In this way, they can communicate more effectively and work on collaborative projects better.

Lean (LN)

Lean is a management philosophy inspired by Toyota system practices. This methodology attempts to minimize risks and waste, and maximize customer value. Lean is one of the foundations of the agile approach, and can be widely used across different industries.

Lean projects are more effective when project managers incorporate agile practices. And there are also some lean tools available that can help project teams combat the eight wastes that hinders productivity in businesses:

  • Wait
  • Defect
  • Transport
  • Movement
  • Excess Inventory
  • Excess Production
  • Unnecessary Processing
  • Unused Talent

Agile Project Management Certification Options

The demand for professionals who work using the agile approach is increasing. And this methodology which emphasizes great flexibility and collaboration is now in practice in most industries and organizations. 

Here are some agile-focused certifications you can take to demonstrate how this approach works.

PMI-ACP

The Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) by PMI is for project managers who are currently working for organizations adapting the agile practices.

This certification demonstrates the knowledge and skills of a candidate about some subdomains of the agile approach such as Scrum, Kanban and Lean. 

The PMI-ACP certification is available for both members and non-members and offered in paper-based and computer-based options. Exam costs range from US$385 – US$495. Once you obtain your PMI-ACP certification, you’ll have to earn 30 PDUs every year for renewal.

APMG International

APMG International is a globally recognized certification for agile project management. The main goal of this certification is to measure the ability of project managers to deliver agile projects that require standards and visibility around the framework.

Cost varies depending on the exam. Price ranges from £218 for Agile Project Management Foundation exam to £330 for the Agile Project Management Practitioner exam.

Strategyex Certificate (Associate or Master’s) in Agile

Strategyex Certificate in Agile is pioneered by TwentyEighty Strategy Execution together with George Washington University. They offer either an associate, or master’s certificate in agile practices.

The associate’s certificate highlights your agile knowledge and skills, and requires at least three courses for two years. On the other hand, the master’s certificate requires seven courses over a four-year period to enhance your expertise in agile methodologies.

Individual courses like the Agile Practices for Product Owners and Delivering Agile Projects with Scrum are around US$1,645.

Strategyex Certificate (Associate or Master’s) in Agile

The International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) is an accrediting agency that offers certifications for agile practices. This provides expertise across agile methodologies like Scrum, eXtreme Programming and Kanban.

This certification has three levels: professional, expert and master. In this way, candidates can assess their knowledge and skills about the agile principles.

Exam costs are around US$60.

Agile Certification Institute

The Agile Certification Institute focuses on all aspects of agile development. They offer different agile certifications and credentials about agile product and project management, agile talent management and talent development, and agile process improvement.

ACI’s exam cost is US$99 per course.

Scaled Agile Academy

The Scaled Agile Framework is the foundation for lean and agile development. The Scaled Agile Academy offers five different certifications demonstrating a candidate’s knowledge and experience with Scaled Agile Framework.

Each course costs US$995. The first take of the certification is free, but after being certified, you’ll have to pay US$100 annually for renewal.

Scrum Alliance

The Scrum Alliance is a professional level certification with a goal of supporting widespread adoption of scrum practices. This is one of the top agile certifications which recognizes and demonstrates a candidate’s ability in advanced practices, roles and procedures of the Scrum framework.

Cost per course is US$1,547. After obtaining the certification, you’ll need to pay US$250 for annual renewal fee.

The competition is continually increasing and agile project management offers a lot of benefits. Compared to the traditional waterfall approach, this offers flexibility for project managers since they can adapt to changes as they go over a project.

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