Is Agile just another project management fad? Or can it actually enhance how you work or handle a process? Big companies use the Agile methodology to run “fast and efficient projects.” Facebook uses it. Google and Microsoft and Twitter also use it. It’s being taught in online MBA degree programs as well.
A quick look at this novel approach to project management revealed that Agile, indeed, offers big help—not hype. It’s not perfect but you will likely benefit from it too.
Defining the Agile Methodology
Individuals and organizations may adopt slightly different flavors of the Agile method. All of them, however, point to the same thing—to the same set of characteristics and principles that define what Agile is.
Agility, to begin with, is the enemy of rigidity. Unlike traditional project management that favors processes and tools, agile methods focus on individuals and interactions.
In an agile workplace, everyone is responsible for the success of a project. Each member handles individual tasks and expectations, and sees how his or her contribution fits with the overall project. This is a radical departure from hierarchical-based or linear planning.
Agile methods are mainly drawn from real-life experiences of software professionals who encountered limitations and problems commonly associated with traditional methods.
Benefiting from the Agile Approach
Agile, without a doubt, is a lightweight project management framework that promotes flexibility and independence. It brings many other advantages too, regardless of your company size or type. You don’t have to be in the technology industry or work with less than ten people to reap the benefits.
Agile Makes Decision-Making Easier and Faster
Managing projects the agile way means that you are able to respond to issues and problems as they arise. You don’t have to wait for anyone’s approval. You are, instead, making decisions at the right time—that is, the soonest time possible. This aspect of the agile methodology will largely benefit teams or organizations that tend to ponder on issues for a prolonged time.
Making timely decisions is a good start. They help individuals and teams deliver faster than usual.
Agile Brings Quick ROI
Quicker decision-making naturally brings quicker revenues. In Agile, features and services are delivered incrementally. People don’t need to wait for the “perfect” product complete with all its possible features.
In fact, research suggests that almost 80% of all market leaders are first to deliver. Make it easier for you and your team to be the first by adopting the agile approach. You can leverage this “First Mover” advantage and emerge as an industry or niche leader.
Agile Promotes High Quality
The agile way encourages feedback in every step of the process. Every feature or item is tested and inspected as the product develops. This enables the maker or owner to tweak or make adjustments when needed. Everyone on the team quickly gets an idea of any quality issues as well. When someone finds a bug or a problem, the person in charge fixes it accordingly. This is also helps everyone take the necessary steps while there’s still time to make changes on the product.
Using Agile’s test-driven development, software developers are able to catch and fix most bugs. Thus the end product is typically high-quality software with minimal bugs.
Agile Encourages an Active and Collaborative Approach
Is every single member on the team doing what he or she ought to do? Agile provides excellent visibility or transparency so you can be sure everyone can track the progress of any given task and the overall project.
This active and personal involvement can also make your project much more enjoyable for you and your team.
Agile Makes it Easier to Control Costs
Traditional project management usually imposes a fixed set of outcomes and expectations. It also comes with a fixed expensive budget. Changes, if there are any, will only cost more.
Agile, since it’s a more flexible approach to project management, allows you to look for less costly alternatives. And since most problems are caught sooner, early mistakes won’t cost you any significant amount of money at all.
What’s more, Agile is a “No Frills” approach to handling a project. You don’t need useless daily meetings, lengthy status reports and time-consuming paperwork that eat up your budget.