Are you the type to worry about completing your work fast with minimal errors? You may have researched the ways you can get that to happen, and will soon notice one word that pops up every time: AGILE.
Every company, big or small, seems to use this method in their project management like it’s some sort of a magic wand that completes their work. But what is it? And how does it help with your project management?
A brief history of AGILE
AGILE methodology was first mentioned in software development in 2001 when 17 technologists drafted the Agile Manifesto during the turn of the century and the use of the internet. New technologies were being created, which meant they permanently changed the way we worked. The pressure of competition to deliver websites, applications, and software that served the internet rose to its climax which resulted in a different working methodology that was more efficient on a larger scale.
Before understanding what AGILE methodology is, we need to understand what methodology developers have used before it. Waterfall methodology, otherwise known as the linear model, was the golden standard of software development when it was invented in 1970, deriving from the waterfall manufacturing method of Henry Ford in 1913. It was revolutionary in the sense that there was now a structure to the way projects were handled and designed to have the final product be exactly similar to what was intended in the first place.
The waterfall model, just like its name, is finishing one phase before the next sequentially, flowing down like a waterfall. It requires a great deal of discipline and clear outcomes, but this harsh and rigid process made it ineffective in the internet era, where the key lies in flexibility.
What is the AGILE methodology?
Here comes the big question, what does AGILE even mean? In short, it uses an iterative approach to deliver the maximum value to the business. The project is broken down into many phases and involves constant collaboration between team members and stakeholders. The teams working with AGILE methodology cycle between planning, evaluating, and executing, and continuously revise or improve for the best outcome. It is extremely flexible and responsive to change, which helped replace the waterfall model.
This is how the AGILE method differs from the golden waterfall method.
The four core values of AGILE project management have been written in the Agile Manifesto since 2001. These values don’t only apply to the software development industry, but also to any type of project you’re looking to complete.
Value 1: Collaborative Individual Work
The first value declared in the Agile Manifesto is “individual and interactions over processes and tools”. There is no doubt that social connection with professionality in the workplace makes the job easier to understand. Teamwork leads to success, and AGILE promotes collaboration across the teams working on the same project.
Value 2: Working Software
The second value is “working software over comprehensive documentation”. While in the past, many have favored the clear documentation of the work and process, the actual difference is made in the code. This value tells the developers to ditch the report and start on the first lines of code!
Value 3: Review & Feedback
The third value states that “customer collaboration over contract negotiations”. For legal reasons, putting everything on contract may sound like the right thing to do, however, it restricts and limits so many opportunities for the project. The AGILE method was born when flexibility is needed, and this value emphasized it.
Value 4: Flexibility
The last value mentioned in the Agile Manifesto is “responding to change over following a plan”. Think about when you tried to do something, but it doesn’t turn out the way you quite expected. It is especially true the larger the project is. There are too many factors that affect the process that doesn't result in the replica of what you had in mind. With software development, it is necessary to be responsive to change and keep an open mind about these changes. That way, the result may become better than what you envisioned.
These four values are the roots of AGILE methodology, dictating how the project should be managed if you desire an effective and flexible working process.
12 Principles of AGILE Project Management
The 12 principles are also derived from the four core values mentioned above. According to Agile Manifesto, the 12 principles are listed as follows.
Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
Working software is the primary measure of progress.
Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount of work not done–is essential.
The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
Looking through these twelve, the main theme behind the AGILE method becomes increasingly clear: collaboration. And it goes for everyone and everything involved: your team, stakeholders, and other departments. Collaboration keeps your project flexible which helps it rapidly react to change and keep the project on track, if not, on a better track.
The benefits of the AGILE approach
You’ve heard why the AGILE approach out beats the waterfall method, but how does it stand against other project management methodologies? What are the benefits of the AGILE approach?
As emphasized above, flexibility and adaptability are big key benefits of the AGILE approach. With continuous feedback and review, teams can quickly fix any issue that arises before it affects the whole project. It allows for the “bad ideas” to weed out early on, making the process faster and with fewer errors. Mid-project, if a different idea pops up that makes more sense to implement, teams can be adaptable and add it in on spot!
With the AGILE approach, the project will be completed faster with a better result. By checking in with your client and user regularly, they are a part of the process and can dictate the project to go their way while it is still being worked on.
Those involved in working with the AGILE methodology will be more empowered as it builds accountability, encourages diversity in ideas, and promotes continuous improvement. It makes collaboration the core of the process, which connects and empowers those involved.
The barriers & challenges of the AGILE approach
There are always two sides of the coin, and as with the AGILE approach, the basket of benefits comes with a little challenge. Generally, organizations are resistant to change, so switching methods and working processes could become a big challenge. If the project manager is unable to deliver the message of the AGILE method clearly enough, it could leave a lot of employees confused. With bad communication, employees are less likely to be collaborative which leads to inconsistency across their work. And when there is unalignment, the project could very well be insufficiently managed, and in extreme events, can push the team back to square one!
While you may be second-guessing choosing this approach, doesn't every approach come with its own challenges? At Dirox, our project managers and developers have been working with the AGILE methodology for many years and have proven to be successful. We are confident in our management methods, as well as the technical skills of the experts in the field.
Other project management methodologies
Of course, AGILE is not the only methodology in the book. There are many other methods to go by, so let’s go over some of the other project management methods.
This is a visual approach where teams create a visual representation of their tasks. The name means “billboard” in Japanese. The way this methodology works is by placing your workflow and process on a billboard that is shared with every member of the team to stay updated on the progress. It can be done with a sticky note on a whiteboard, and it can be in a physical environment or online. This method works best for planning. Kanban is also used by agile teams and can be incorporated into AGILE methodology as well.
The next most popular method is often compared with AGILE, called the Scrum methodology. There is a Scrum master who clears obstacles for the work to be done. It is done in short cycles and is called “sprint” and is ideal for a team smaller than 10 people who participate in short meetings every day called daily scrum meetings. This method can be a part of AGILE methodology as well since the book “Agile Software Development with Scrum” written by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle incorporated them in 2001.
The AGILE method is just one among many others, but it has been chosen as the most effective out of them all. Most companies use it now for every benefit that it provides to optimize their sales, customer satisfaction, and more.
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