Is Agile Project Management Right For You?

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

The rapid growth in the understanding and popularity of the agile style of project management means more and more companies are investigating how the agile approach will work for their business. The debate over the benefits and constrictions of agile are ongoing, and despite many managers having the notion that agile is a fix all solution, it is important to go into the process with an open mind and a clear awareness of the pros and cons.

Agile hinges on the ability to utilise the scrum to its fullest extent. If you’re thinking about adopting a more agile approach to your projects, it’s worth investigating how the scrum can benefit your team.

The benefits of the scrum process

  • Because incremental functionality is rapidly delivered, it is quicker to iron out bugs and bring a working product to market
  • The scrum serves to increase communication between team members
  • Customer feedback is greater, allowing the team to develop the functionality that best meets with the customer needs
  • The progress of the project is easy to see from all levels
  • Any issues, problems or faults are quickly identified and can be dealt with in a transparent and efficient manner
  • The flexibility and agility this style of project management brings with it means adjustments to the requirements can be made easily in response to market changes or new information coming forward

Of course it would be silly to simply focus on the benefits of scrum without also identifying some of the concerns that come with it too. Despite what your director may think, it is not the magic solution to all project management worries, so be aware of the downsides of this methodology too.

The disadvantages of the scrum process

  • Scope creep is very difficult to manage due to the fact that agile allows for iterative development
  • It can be hard to identify when the project is complete, as you could in theory continue developing and refining the product indefinitely
  • As the functionality changes and evolves, some degree of work is wasted or thrown away as it becomes redundant
  • To make agile development work effectively for your organisation, you will need to have a well experienced team of competent people on your side

The answer?

The great debate over agile versus traditional project management will undoubtedly continue for some time, but the truth is that there is no real winner. In some situations agile will be the best solution for your needs, whereas in others it will be a more traditional style of project management that comes out on top.

The real winner, for us as project managers, is not agile OR traditional; it’s agile AND traditional. If you can gain some understanding of the most powerful parts of the agile methodology, and intersperse your traditional project management skills with the most applicable parts of agile, then overall your project management skills will be improved. Don’t dismiss agile because you don’t understand it or think it’s not suitable for your project; by using a hybrid of the two methods as and when appropriate, you can develop a flexible, workable project management style that exploits the best bits of both schools of though.

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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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