What do the construction of a business headquarters, the development of a communication device, and the launch of a marketing campaign have in common? They are all considered projects, defined by a beginning and an end.
Projects require a team of people with varying titles, and a project manager organizes this assortment of knowledge and tools into a plan. It takes more than a simple plan, though, to see a project from idea to completion, and a successful project manager understands that.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s online MBA with a Concentration in Project Management emphasizes practical application and project-based learning to establish a solid foundation for a number of careers including project manager, operations manager and construction manager. Completing the program helps students prepare for the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam.
Project managers need high adaptability to take on the role of change agent. They must motivate their team with their leadership, have a range of techniques adaptable to project flow, and know how to work under pressure.
In other words, great project managers are agile, and they operate with a philosophy that is just as quick.
What Is Agile Project Management?
Agile project management is a methodology that employs incremental steps called sprints that focus on continuous improvement. Agile projects value collaboration and flexibility by having small groups meet frequently to discuss specific goals. This lets your team adapt to change as it occurs and quickly deliver a finished product that meets shareholder expectations.
In 2001, 17 software developers published the Agile Manifesto whose principles serve as the foundation for teams that implement the agile methodology of project management:
- Satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. This is the top priority.
- 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 for the shorter timescale.
- Shareholders and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
- Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, then 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.
Though devised to help the software industry streamline the development process, agile methodology is finding use in other industries too. The construction industry is one example. Marketing and advertising is another.
Values and Benefits of Agile Project Management
The Agile Manifesto also defined four values that outline how agile project management differs from the traditional linear approach and ultimately benefits all involved — teams, leaders, shareholders and customers.
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: Sole reliance on systems and tools can lead to an inability to adapt as circumstances change. Prioritizing individuals and interactions enables more flexibility and control.
- Working software over comprehensive documentation: Breaking the project into “sprints” reduces waste and optimizes the development process. Incremental steps allow the team to focus on details and specific customer needs.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: Transparency and feedback between teams and customers leads to faster detection of issues and higher success rates. This prevents teams from getting to the end of a project just to be told it isn’t what the customer envisioned.
- Responding to change over following a plan: Traditionally, change had the potential to thwart a project. Agile project management embraces change and uses it to the customer’s advantage.
The Project Management Institute notes that “fast and flexible is the name of the game for teams in The Project Economy.” Agile project management enables teams to deal with the unprecedented changes that have come to define today’s economic climate by helping them reimagine the best method for solving problems and getting work done.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s online MBA program with a Concentration in Project Management includes an entire course devoted to Agile Project Management. In this seven-week course, students learn how to select and administer project management tools that fit the Agile approach.