What is agile project management?

If I had to use one word to characterize agile project management, it would be VALUE (in capitals). The whole project management process is centered around creating value to the customer in the form of a great, fully functional product; working software delivered as fast as possible.

In real life situations, the value creation process is not easy: priorities, users, trends, and technologies change extremely rapidly; due to that it is not possible to plan very far ahead in the future. As a response to that, agile project management values the principles of adaptability and flexibility. Very short release cycles employed in agile project management make it much easier to respond to users’ needs, adapt to changing requirements and as such, deliver working products.

Compared to traditional project management the agile way does not try to apply the smarts up front. Very fast time to market accompanied by frequent, small releases are valued much more than trying to figure out and solve problems at the beginning. Also, agile project management values early and regular customer involvement. Practitioners understand that the clients, end users can and do change their minds frequently and may not even be aware of what they want differently until they see an example. Hence agile employs product and sprint backlogs for capturing user requirements, and demo meetings for early and highly valued feedback.

The agile ways of working also believe that no process is ever perfect. Rather than trying to craft a sound process from day one, agile believes in empowering the teams. They are free to tailor their ways of working in a continuous manner, in a constructive and inclusive way. Agile gives a guide to newly formed teams but also gives them liberty and room to experiment and find the ways that are best suited for them. The agile mindset does not believe in the ‘one size fits all’ principle, but acknowledges that each team and situation is different, with unique needs.

To conclude, agile project management is about:

  • Delivering value
  • Embracing change in all phases of development
  • Being flexible, trusting and empowering teams
  • A continuous improvement cycle based on feedback (be it internal – retros – or external -demos)

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