Your Complete Guide To The Best Practices Of Agile Project Management
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Agile is a project management methodology consisting of small different cycles to focus on bringing continuous improvement in a product or service. In this way, project teams can monitor whether they’re making good progress or not and adjust their processes as needed.
Most industries focusing on creating products or services through a continuous cycle of small changes adapt the agile methodology. In contrast to the traditional waterfall approach which uses a step-by-step process for project development, agile project management focuses on bringing flexibility and updates throughout the process.
So what are the agile best practices you should consider when working on agile projects?
Best practices in agile methodologies
The agile methodology has several approaches you can use when working on different projects. All of them share almost the same philosophy like incorporating and adapting to changes throughout the project development process. However, each has its own unique practices, terminologies and strategies. Here’s the list of agile practices.
The agile project management has emerged to serve as a solution to software development, making their work more flexible and efficient. This methodology is a pattern for a broad range of frameworks. Before heading towards the best practices for each agile framework, here are some of the generic practices to perform first.
Through agile iterative development, huge tasks are broken down into smaller chunks and continuous tests are done in repetitive cycles. In this process, project teams find new features to be added to the product or service that can contribute to its overall performance.
Unlike in waterfall project management, the agile methodology allows project teams to have a new perspective on improving their processes during project development. In this way, you can address issues during the process and create contingency plans to avoid encountering the same issues in the next sprints again.
Regular meetings are essential for agile project management. These meetings should be short but concise and must include all the necessary updates on the project development. In agile project management, these are called “scrum meetings” where the team discusses the iterations you need to work on.
Here are the four types of meetings conducted when working on agile projects.
- Sprint planning – a meeting about lining up the work to be done and the estimate time to begin and end a task
- Daily standup – a daily meeting to assess the latest progress of the project
- Sprint review – a meeting held at the end of every sprint
- Sprint retrospective – used for meeting and reflecting about the last sprint
Using professional tools
Using professional project management tools when working on agile projects helps the team to understand the project structure better and build stronger team collaboration. Different project management software offer different features which can help you organize your team better.
For example, some project management tools like Asana, Monday, ClickUp and Trello are perfect for streamlining and assigning tasks to team members. From there, you can also see their current progress and mark tasks once done. With these tools, it’s easier for project teams to collaborate more efficiently.
Scrum is considered to be the most dominant agile framework. This methodology is an iterative process which allows clients to change the project requirements at any point of the project development.
Scrum project management also requires fully committed and self organized teams to respond and deliver the project on time. Here are some scrum practices if you’re considering to adapt this methodology in your future projects.
Creating product backlog
The first step to scrum project management is creating a product backlog. This is a list of everything your team needs to be done, synchronized depending on the level of priority. Any team member, stakeholder or even the product owner can add something to this list.
During the project development process, this list can change as the needs of the product increases. The product backlog must include what should be done, who should do it and why you need to work on that certain task. In this way, you can ensure everyone has a mutual understanding and contributes in aligning the vision.
Refining sprint plan and requirements
Creating a sprint plan is the process where team members need to discuss everything thoroughly and review each of the tasks in the list. Project requirements should be clear. If not, team members must refine them and convert the tasks into chunks so they’re easily digestible.
Scrum recommends 30 days for sprint duration, but it still depends on the maturity of processes. In most cases, the best sprint duration is around two to three weeks including planning, developing, testing and delivery.
Setting communication guidelines for the agile team
Communication is crucial for any type of project. Create an uninterrupted and consistent communication strategy for your scrum team to make sure everyone is informed about the changes that need to be done.
Practicing effective communication can help you and your team in maintaining transparency about all the factors affecting your project. This will also benefit remote teams since they can easily reach each other without the need to be in the same location.
Starting sprints and stand-ups
After finalizing the sprint start and end dates, it’s time to start working on the sprints. The basic rule of scrum is to finish each sprint and make sure its quality is top notch before delivering it to the product owner. Also, it’s important to have daily meetings or stand-ups with your scrum team so that everyone is aware of any issues, concerns and progress of the tasks.
Stand-ups must answer these questions:
- What did you do today?
- What should be done tomorrow?
- Are there any issues that delay the progress of your tasks?
Make sure you and your team answer these questions in every meeting. In this way, you’ll have a clear understanding of the entire project development process.
The kanban methodology is created to manage the supply and flow of materials for production without waste and delays. This approach can help project teams to maximize their time and effort and create outstanding deliverables.
Kanban project management is one of the leading methodologies and it suits almost all teams. When planning to work on kanban projects soon, keep these kanban best practices in mind.
Visualizing the workflow
Kanban boards are used in this approach to help team members visualize and have a clear representation of how the tasks are running. Also, you must have a clear perspective about possible roadblocks and bottlenecks that can delay the completion of the project.
Your team must work together to determine ways on how to overcome these challenges. In return, you can deliver great results in the best possible way.
Limiting work in progress
When determining the threshold for the work in progress, the team also defines the optimal quantity of work they can accomplish within a given period of time. Fixed restrictions for undergoing work limits the total number of tasks in the active pane, allowing team members to focus only on the tasks that need to be completed within a specified time.
Limiting workloads can help you and your team streamline the most important tasks and identify bottlenecks more effectively.
Creating clear rules for each step
Kanban project management works effectively when teams set well-defined rules for each board list that indicates whether a task has been completed. In this way, you can transfer some task cards to the next list.
Create clear rules indicating when a certain task should be completed. Also, set parameters your team members can rely on when working on the project itself so they know whether the final output is good for delivery or still needs some improvement.
Improvement is an important part of project management. It can be small changes overtime that help your team members build their capabilities and develop your team’s flow of value. The kanban methodology allows you to improve your current processes and create incremental changes during the project development process.
The advantage of using this approach is that you don’t need to change the entire project plan. You can just identify the loop holes in your work process then modify your workflow to suit what’s best for your team.
Kanban is a process where continuous development is allowed. Create consistent feedback loops so your team members can give and receive feedback and pivot things if necessary. The kanban method might end up being inflexible if team members don’t meet from time to time to discuss the progress of the project and how your processes work.
Constant feedback is critical to understand how team members cope with the project development process. This will also help them identify roadblocks and risks that might occur and affect the successful completion of the project.
The lean methodology started in Japan when companies examine their processes, improve customer value and eliminate everything that doesn’t add value to the overall project. This approach is about continuously improving work processes, people and purposes while reducing waste throughout the process.
Here are some of the best practices you should follow before implementing lean methodology in your project teams.
Value can be represented in so many ways. It can be a single or a combination of efficiency, technical effectiveness and satisfaction whether it be for the project itself, the team or the clients and stakeholders.
Break down huge and complex tasks into smaller ones so you can identify the value associated with each subtask. In this way, you and your team can have a better understanding of your work processes and identify the unnecessary tasks to be eliminated. This practice can also help you add more value to your workstream.
Reducing waste is one of the primary goals of the lean project management methodology. Lean principles aim to identify and eliminate waste for a more efficient and effective project management.
There are seven types of waste in lean project management which doesn’t add value to the project development process and clients. Reviewing all areas in your processes and eliminating these wastes are the fundamentals of effective lean project management.
- Transportation – the movement of materials from one place to another that doesn’t add value
- Inventory – the excess inventory that takes up too much storage space and ties up working capital
- Motion – unnecessary bending, lifting and walking
- Waiting – the unnecessary idle time that delays the completion of the project
- Overproduction – making excessive product resulting to inventory shortage
- Over processing – too much time spent on a certain task
- Defects – incorrect assembly of instructions resulting in rework or replacement
Constant improvement is essential to implement a successful lean project management. As you conduct meetings with your team members and assess the progress of the project, you can point out factors that need to be improved while working on the iterations needed.
One of the most effective ways to achieve valuable improvements is clearly communicating project requirements and guidelines to team members. From there, you and your team can achieve more goals while minimizing waste.
Flexibility is essential especially when working on large projects. And the agile methodology is a great way to plan and adjust something as you go through the project development process. Follow these best agile practices to ensure more successful projects in the future.
The new PMP exam now consists of agile and hybrid approach questions. Visit our exam prep course page and prepare for your PMP certification ahead.
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