Companies waste roughly $97 million for every billion they invest due to ineffective project management, according to research from the Project Management Institute.
With losses stacking up, a large number of firms have begun employing a variety of established strategies to promote project-based productivity. However, one particular methodology has seen widespread adoption across multiple sectors: agile project management. More than 70 percent of businesses now use agile techniques, PMI found.
The Development of Agile Project Management
No single person is credited with developing the agile project management strategy, according to CIO. The methodology sort of materialized naturally during the 1950s and 60s, as pioneering software developers employed incremental production methods that would become the basis of the agile modus operandi. During the 1970s, famed computer scientist William Royce publicized and championed the strategy as ideal workflow for large-scale software deployments. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that agile project development gained its formal framework.
That year, more than a dozen developers published the “Agile Manifesto,” which promoted the use of stakeholder-friendly yet scalable processes that align with 12 foundational precepts:
- Customer satisfaction is the primary objective and best accomplished through quick delivery and long-term support.
- Change is welcome at any stage of product development.
- Frequent, on-time delivery is essential.
- Core operational staff and developers should collaborate often.
- Businesses should rely on motivated contributors and equip them with the resources they need to meet project goals.
- In-person meetings are ideal.
- Work product is the ultimate metric for determining success.
- Product development teams should maintain a brisk pace using agile processes that emphasize sustainability.
- Quality design is the basis for agility.
- Simplicity is key.
- Self-organizing project teams produce the best work.
- Stakeholders should continually fine-tune established workflows to bolster efficiency.
In the years following the release of the “Agile Manifesto,” software companies in almost every market integrated it into their internal everyday workflows. Soon, it became the industry-standard. In the age of formalized project management, the strategy has seen wider use.
Michelin is one of the most vocal champions of agility. The French manufacturing company, best known for car tires, has embraced agile project management in recent years, using it to meet the high expectations of its customers and achieve optimal scalability – a necessity within the modern marketplace.
“We believe that agility could also be used in multiple ways – in everything we do,” Phillipe Husser, senior partner for progress direction at Michelin, told PMI. “In fact, the world is changing very quickly around us, so much so that we cannot afford anymore to have projects taking two to five years to deliver, because, during this time, the initial requirements have changed.”
Grasping the Agile Advantages
Product teams employing agile workflows can facilitate speedy development without sacrificing quality, as processes are stripped down to their most essential components. This way, team members only invest time in activities that further project goals. Additionally, this lightweight approach promotes flexibility and reduces turnaround time. Most importantly, agile project management keeps the customer in focus. Product teams, free from navigating organizational red tape, can form deep connections with clients and collaborate with them to produce work that benefits all involved.
Achieving Agility in the Operation
While agile project management emphasizes fuss-free product development, there are, of course, some standardized requirements, according to PMI. First off, a statement of work containing project objectives and specifications sits at the center of the most agile initiatives. A documented project plan, including deliverable descriptions, due dates and budgetary details, accompanies the SOW.
With these core documents in place, stakeholders can establish communication channels and procedures, and assign roles for both internal and external collaborators. Performance monitoring and quality control procedures are, of course, also essential. Finally, project teams should plan to debrief following the passage of the final deadline to review the outcome and gauge success.
Of all the procedural must-haves that come along with agile project development, communication-based variables carry the most weight, as collaborators must be able to connect effectively to achieve truly flexibility and ultimately deploy a product that meets core project goals.