Agile Project Management: 10 Tips from the Masters

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Summary:
In today’s fast-paced world, organizational agility is critical to business success. However, it’s common for there to be a clash between the traditional top-down business culture and the agile business philosophy. Agile project management is not just a set of processes and predetermined activities, but rather a genuine philosophy that forces organizations to embrace a brand-new mindset.

Agile project management is one of the most important recent trends in project management, as it has the potential to make teams better, faster, and more productive.

In today’s fast-paced world, organizational agility is critical to business success. However, it’s common for there to be a clash between the traditional top-down business culture and the agile business philosophy.

Agile project management is not just a set of processes and predetermined activities, but rather a genuine philosophy that forces organizations to embrace a brand-new mindset.

If you want to make it work to your advantage, you have to learn from the best. Here are 10 proven tips for success in agile project management.

1. Training is fundamental

The main rule of agile project management is to ensure proper training for your employees. Although the methodology itself may look perfectly clear at first, it takes a lot more time to comprehend all the details.

In such circumstances, it would be a big mistake to let your team deal with agile methodologies without going through an in-depth practice session.

It doesn’t mean, however, that you need to send every team member to receive the same type of training. On the contrary, all it takes is to select a few senior managers who will be in charge of agile operations. They are the ones who should transfer the knowledge vertically and help colleagues get their feet off the ground.

Besides that, make sure to avoid complex projects in the early stages of agile management. Focus on smaller tasks at first and allow the entire team to improve skills gradually.

2. Don’t forget onboarding

No organization is fixed, which means you will be adding new members to the team. Although a new colleague might have sufficient experience with agile project management, keep in mind that every organization nurtures a specific approach to this field.

New members of your company all must go through the same onboarding process in order to figure out the basics of your agile methodology. It will help each employee to become super-efficient quickly, but it will also prevent possible misconceptions and misunderstandings among coworkers.

A failure to prepare a thorough onboarding process will lead to substantial operating errors and deteriorate the productivity of the whole organization.

3. Show them how it works

Another thing you need to worry about is showing your employees how the new agile methodology functions in real-life situations. Don’t forget that you are a team leader who serves as their role model, so you better do your best to lead by example.

This is a common issue among modern companies because their owners tend to “set it and forget it.” You don’t want to make the same mistake, which is why it’s necessary to keep the process as transparent as possible:

  • Encourage two-way communication and instant feedback
  • Organize regular meetings and group discussions 
  • Ensure the highest level of synchronization on a daily basis

4. Reward the pioneers of agile project management

Some team members will be more willing to embrace fresh business concepts such as agile project management, and you should reward them for being the first ones to experiment with the new methodologies.

However, if you properly demonstrate the benefits of an agile methodology as in step 3, everyone should soon realize the potential of an agile approach. It should convince them to accept the methodology and start contributing to the company’s success. And if you notice a party breaker along the way, you can react promptly and encourage them to respond to the new operating procedure.

5. Combine agile with lean development

The real masters of agile project management understand both the pros and cons of their methodologies. They always make sure to improve the existing framework, which is why they tend to combine agile with lean development.

The lean approach is essentially an agile framework based on optimizing development time and resources, eliminating waste, and ultimately delivering only what the product needs. Lean development is much better at identifying project essentials.

Agile project management will tell you how to get things done quicker and error-free, but it cannot discover unnecessary features. Lean development is designed to do that, so make sure to pair it with your agile approach.

6. Find your own learning rhythm

Different agile approaches come with different learning curves, but your job is to set the right pace that perfectly corresponds to the needs and abilities of your team. What really matters here is to focus on specific phases of the deployment procedure and reevaluate each stage upon completion.

Go from lighter tasks and gradually move on to more demanding processes. That way, you will be able to advance without huge barriers, and it will be easier to identify possible shortcomings along the way.

Some of the most agile teams tend to perform weekly analyses because it gives them enough material to work with. If your team doesn’t have a more ideal cadence, try sticking to the same principle.

7. Make it a cross-functional methodology

The worst thing a company could do is neglect the specificities of different departments. It’s a serious mindset issue that promotes “one size fits all” solutions, a concept that simply cannot function properly in multifaceted business environments.

For this reason, you need to turn agile project management into a cross-functional methodology that aligns with operating procedures on all levels of the hierarchy. The goal is to pinpoint a common denominator and use it across all fractions of the organization. It is the only way to make agile methodologies work well, especially in large-scale teams and organizations.

8. Concentrate on goals instead of techniques

The true benefit of agile project management is the ability to maximize efficiency using a goal-driven business philosophy. This means that you should concentrate on business objectives without having a clearly defined game plan. The only thing that really matters is to set a clear goal, determine the budget, and understand the timeframe.

Everything else comes second, which means you can enjoy the privilege of professional flexibility. Your team members are free to get creative and find unique solutions to the problems, but the key idea is to always work with the ultimate goal in their minds.

9. Remind your team of the benefits

First-time agile users can feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of new concepts and practices. If your team begins experiencing the same sort of fatigue, you should keep reminding them of the benefits of agile project management.

Let them think beyond current issues and convince them that the ultimate advantage of the process is much greater than the existing difficulties. That way, you can breathe new life into the project and help the team make it through the hard times more efficiently.

10. Don’t use it if you don’t need it

The last tip is simple: Do not use certain agile project management practices if you don’t need them. Even though it’s a cutting-edge project management methodology, not all parts will suit all types of organizations and operating practices.

Such incompatibility can occur for a number of reasons. First of all, you shouldn’t rely on agile if your team is not ready or not willing to accept it. It’s a common issue within organizations that function just as easily without agile project management.

Second, your senior executives might be genuine micromanagers who can’t help controlling every little aspect of the business. In this case, agile is certainly not the way to go for your business.

There are many other reasons you might want to refrain from agile methodologies, so do your best to analyze the whole concept and determine whether it really suits your company.

Agile project management is much more than a set of predefined instructions, so you need to approach it strategically in order to understand the essence of the job.

Have you used any of these tips, rules, and practices? Which feature do you believe to be the hardest here? Share your ideas in the comments.

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