The difference between good project managers and great ones: Skill 4 – Agility
Author: Dan Vucic, Project Manager at IComm
Project managers (and organisations) that embrace agile techniques are going to have an even clearer advantage over their slower moving rivals in the future. As pressure mounts due to labour intensification to deliver greater returns on investment, those project managers that embrace nimble and decisive actions will reduce project downtime and be more likely to meet their business goals, on time and on budget. The traditional Waterfall method of project management is no longer enough to deliver on complex projects.
Agile has been a buzzword in the corporate lexicon for many years now. It is thought to have started within the software development teams as a process of breaking down a body of work into small parts to be completed in quick steps. Then daily catch up meetings would be used to measure progress and keep a close eye on the pace the project was moving and to encourage collaboration to ensure the project was completed as efficiently as possible. The rationale behind this is that eliminating waste and continuously making small improvements will lead to better outcomes over time.
Agile project management can be roughly defined as a simple framework that promotes communication and reflection within the team. Due to the increased communication and more rapid feedback timeframes, when the brief or customer requirements inevitably change during a project the agile project manager will be able to adjust in a timely manner.
But agile project management is much more than just being quicker to react to changes, it also has a strong focus on continuous improvement of processes, flexibility of scope and gaining better inputs from all stakeholders. But the primary focus of agile project management is the priority on customer satisfaction by delivering the project on time and on budget regardless of changes to requirements. The methodologies used in agile project management can involve sprints, scrums, lean management, Kanban boards, Work In Progress meetings, and Adaptive Project Frameworks.
The use of agile project management techniques is not necessary in every situation, but it does allow for project managers to produce small deliverables more frequently and efficiently. Often the use of the waterfall method will suffice as it is easier to understand and teams will be more comfortable with this process. This is especially true when requirements are certain to be fixed and there is very little ambiguity, or if the project is very straightforward. But having the ability to employ agile techniques is the difference between good project managers and great ones.