Unlocking the Power of Agility: Embrace Change to Transform Your Business Process!
Since the publication of the Agile Manifesto in 2001, the agile flavor of teamwork planning and execution has been spreading far and wide to now settle as the norm. And though many teams have found it to bring more project success than traditional methods, and others may still be struggling to see Agile as anything more than Scrum, it may be worth reiterating that if working alongside Agile project management means one thing, it is that it asks your team to embrace the change and stay open to the new.
The ability to adapt quickly to altering environments and task requirements has to remain one of the defining characteristics of Agile project management. A team operating in a truly agile manner can handle changes throughout a project, signaling to its stakeholders that it’s prepared and capable of making fast adaptations to meet fluid needs.
The pre-agile, traditional approach to project management involves extensive planning upfront, intending to predict every possible outcome and prepare accordingly. But in today’s business environment, this approach can be problematic. If a project derails by unforeseen events, which the team couldn’t handle and work with, then the result is not likely to meet the customer’s needs. That’s why Agile project management takes a different route — rather than trying to predict every possible problem and outcome, teams focus on delivering value quickly, often, and in small chunks, giving themselves a chance to respond to any arising changes. And just as an agile team can adapt to the changing needs of its clients, if a new technology emerges and could make project completion simpler and more effective, an agile team should be able to incorporate that technology into their work on the spot.
Consider how each of the original Agile Manifesto’s points reflects a team’s requirement for flexibility and adaptability:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Agile project management emphasizes communication and collaboration between all involved parties. The teams work closely with their customers to ensure they understand each other in practice, not only in the contracted, formal way. This approach allows teams to be more open to discussions at any level of the organization and — as such — more responsive to changing requirements and delivering products that meet the actual needs of their customers. It would be best to manage the communication between the internal team and clients clearly and concisely — e.g., on a visual Kanban Tool project board shared with all the involved parties.
Working product over comprehensive documentation
It also means placing value on doing what’s needed right now rather than just following a rigid plan. Agile project management uses iterative work cycles — instead of trying to plan out every detail upfront, agile teams work in short bursts, typically 2–4 weeks, to develop and deliver small pieces of working software. Documenting them is less urgent than providing what the client requested asap. Thanks to this, teams can receive feedback from stakeholders and make adjustments as needed to ensure they continue delivering the most value to their customers.
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
You could say that Agile bets very highly on human interaction and its value, less on formal contracts and their step-by-step completion. Although set arrangements and written requirements are still present in Agile PM, they should always play second fiddle to the real-time interaction between team members and customers and within the team itself. Agile teams are composed of individuals with varied skills and expertise, not single-function experts. This perk allows them to be more self-sufficient and make decisions more quickly.
Responding to change over following a plan
Although this element of the Manifesto takes last place on the list, we hope to have already proven its prominence — being open to change is at the very core of Agile. And, as the toolkit stays with us and expands onto new industries, it will be fundamental to remember that this is the main point of being agile.
It means agile teams get a step up in their pursuit of continuous improvement. Why? Because it will not only be the role of the manager to do periodic reviews and get improvement suggestions but on top of this — the team is used to always being on the lookout for what can and needs to change. They’re unlikely to settle into believing their current way of working is a solid, unwavering way of operating.
In conclusion, Agile project management is a flexible and responsive approach to project management that enables teams to be highly effective in fluctuating scenarios. By defining a team’s mode of operation as agile, organizations signal their readiness to make changes at a fast pace to react to the customers’ changing requirements. The combination of iterative development cycles, cross-functional teams, continuous improvement, and emphasis on communication, listening, and flexible collaboration enables agile teams to deliver value to their customers while always staying responsive to change.
The article was originally published on the Kanban Tool Blog.