The amazing people behind Gartner (www.gartner.com) defined project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements”.
Whatever the industry, project management has proven to be a highly vital element of a company’s productivity and eventually, its success. However, it is not often a piece of cake. With all the models and/or methods that each project team is using, it is quite difficult to find the right set of techniques to use to make a project progress in a streamlined fashion.
In this article, we have listed down the 5 best practices on Agile project management that you can use regardless of your environment or situation.
1. Do not call Agile…. “Agile”.
The term Agile has become overused by some or even misused. In some organizations, the term Agile even has a negative connotation, and it can be identical to the terms such as “no documentation”, “no requirements”, or even “developer centered”. Additionally, the term “Agile” raises dogma, which is some sort of a religious-like drive to have an “all or nothing” implementation of all things that are Agile.
In some cases, this is not the reality. Eventually, an organization adopts Agile project management process to help contain and control chaos as a project progress. More importantly, organizations adopt Agile as a method for project management to lessen or to reduce waste simply by helping the members of the organization to keep their focus on the production of their business value.
The term “Agile” occasionally raises an unclear end-state that seems unattainable or even impractical to some organizations. So, it is best to lay off putting labels to these practices with “Agile” if the organization does not really have a good idea of it, and still get the results that you are looking for.
2. Take Time-boxed Communication Meetings Seriously
A huge part of “Agile” is an acknowledgement that, we, as humans correspond more efficiently when we are face-to-face. Other methods can be deemed wasteful. We like to discuss face-to-face so we can clearly see each other’s facial expression, body language, and shared conversation which adds up to the overall effectiveness of a collaboration. Given this situation, you should begin to hold regular meetings of high-bandwidth communication all throughout your project’s duration.
To make this situation more fruitful and more effective, consider placing a time-box around these meetings to ensure that everyone is focused. However, it is also important to not mistake this with having more meetings. Implementing this technique correctly will result to having less more efficient and effective meetings that focuses on better team communication.
Beginning with a 15-minute daily stand up meeting is a great jumpstart to this technique. This is the sort of meeting where the team basically acknowledges that they are working on a specific project, and if they are having troubles with it.
Next, schedule a bi-weekly meeting with a show-and-tell theme. This is to show off what the team has accomplished during a specific time period with your clients. If it is quite impossible for every team member to attend this meeting face-to-face, consider other methods of higher-bandwidth communication such as using Skype or other similar video conference application for a group conference.
It is important to always remember to NEVER rely on emails for your primary form of communication. Using this method to discuss a project can easily lose meaning and intent, or worse, information sent across email can be misinterpreted.
3. Always Be Visible
As part of a team that uses Agile as a form of project management, one must always find a way to effectively and simply communicate with other members regarding the progress being made in a project.
Our team would like to stress that it should be a very simple and highly visible board that shows what people are working on. A sort of transparency amongst each member of the team. It can be as simple as a sticky note on a whiteboard or other methods (http://bit.ly/2Qhpys9 ). However, you should always begin with something simple to create and simple to update and to maintain.
4. Make Sure to Conduct a Checkup Regularly
Conducting a regular checkup on the team ensures that you are all doing what needs to be done in order for the project and the team to maintain optimum “health”.
A regular check up on the team does not need to be some formal meeting, it can simply be a breakfast meeting, or a group conversation over pizza on a Friday evening.
The goal is for the team to get together to chat about what they believe is going well with the project as well as what areas needs fixing.
5. Always Define What Was “Done”
Instead of having random numbers that characterizes what is “done”, you can in turn create a checklist that you and the entire team knows what it means for something to be considered as “done”. In this case, a “done” checklist can be really helpful to analyse tasks as well as any other process in the project’s development.
Checklists are fairly easy to create and to use. You can use this checklist during your regular checkups to add or remove items from it. Doing this will continue to capture the team’s improvement and consistency.
All of these Agile project management techniques will come in really hand to manage chaos in either a small or a huge organization. But it should be noted that these techniques should not contradict with any other methods or models that you are using. In fact, using these techniques can help you along your journey of adopting even more Agile practices.
Mark Twain once said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Although Mark Twain was not a software development manager, his words still rings accurately true when it comes to how one can get started in using or adopting techniques on Agile project management.