By Keith Mathis
Agile Project Management is currently one of the fastest growing methodologies of project management theory. Agility is the capability to deliver customer value reliably in the face of uncertainty and change. According to Sanjiv Augustine, “Agile Project Management is the work of energizing, empowering, and enabling project teams to rapidly and reliably deliver business value by engaging customers and continuously learning and adapting to their changing needs and environments.” It’s the ability to balance stability with flexibility, order with chaos, planning with execution, and control with speed. Here is an overview of this project management style.
Agile Project Management (APM) has three main principles.
Promote alignment and cooperation
People are considered the primary agents driving value, change, learning, and adaptation. A shared vision keeps people aligned and acting toward common goals. When people are in alignment, they cooperate with each other for mutual gain.
Encourage emergence and self-organization
APM processes and practices are kept simple. People self-organize to deliver maximal business value. Complex patterns emerge from close interactions between many people following simple rules.
Apply learning and adaptation
Feedback is used for continuous learning, adaption, and improvement. Projects operate with just enough control, structure, and exploration.
Next, let’s look at the role of the agile project manager. This person is accountable for delivering business value on projects. He or she is responsible for building and leading teams and is held responsible for their success or failure. The project manager responsibilities are in two major categories: Leadership and Management. Through leadership, the manager draws or guides others by influencing their behavior. His or her main purpose is coping with change. Good leadership brings out the best in people by treating them as complete individuals, rather than merely employees. Management refers to the government or administration of project affairs. Dealing with complexity is the main purpose in this category. Good management emphasizes rationality and control by bringing discipline and order to the complexity of the project.
It’s important to remember that just because Agile Project Management is quickly growing doesn’t mean that classic project management no longer has its place. You must carefully consider all aspects of the project before choosing the best methodology.
First, consider your project type. Is your project more operational in nature? Are they all very similar? Are they frequently ran? Are they critical to the day-to-day running of the business? If so, these would be bested served by classical project management. Does your project deal with breakthrough technology? Is it very unique? If this is the case, agile project management is the way to go.
Second, you should consider your project situation. Who are the project stakeholders? Is there a single organization? If there are no specific external customers or no partners or subcontractors, agile project management can be used. Do you have multiple, distinct organizations? Are there many external customers, partners, and subcontractors?
In this case, you will want to stick with classical project management. Or is the project a hybrid involving both kinds of stakeholders? If a project operates within a single corporate umbrella, but where the divisions or functional areas operate separately, both agile and classic project management may be used.
It’s important to remember that agile project management is not an all-or-nothing methodology.
You can combine classic and agile project management concepts where each makes the most sense. Use agile if your project operates in an environment of uncertainty.
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