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Key Agile Project Management Tips

Whether you’ve introduced Agile project management into your organisation already, or are looking to do so, there are some key tips you should use to ensure it runs smoothly and as intended.

Whatever the industry, agile project management has proven to be a highly vital element of many companies’ productivity and success. However, it is not always easy to implement good project management programs. You can prevent your project getting derailed by following our five top tips below.

Do not call Agile…. “Agile”.

The term Agile has become overused, even misused, by some. In some organisations, the term Agile even has a negative connotation and ringing true with terms such as “no documentation”,“no requirements”, or even “developer centred”. Additionally, the term “Agile”raises dogma, a religious-like drive to have an “all or nothing” implementation of all things that are Agile.

The term “Agile” occasionally raises an unclear end-state that seems unattainable or even impractical to some organisations. So, it is best to lay off putting labels to these practices with “Agile” if theorganisation does not really have a good idea of it, and still get the results that you are looking for.

Take Time-boxed Communication Meetings Seriously

A huge part of “Agile” is an acknowledgement that, we, as humans correspond more efficiently when we are face-to-face. Other methods can be deemed wasteful. We like to discuss face-to-face so we can clearly see each other’s facial expressions, body language, and shared conversation which adds up to the overall effectiveness of a collaboration.

To make these meetings more effective, consider placing a time-box around them to ensure that everyone is focused. However, it is also important to not mistake this with having more meetings. Implementing this technique correctly will result in having fewer,more effective and more efficient meetings that focus on better team communication.

Beginning with a 15-minute daily stand up meeting is a great jumpstart to this technique. This is the sort of meeting where the team basically acknowledges that they are working on a specific project, and if they are having troubles with it.

Next, schedule a bi-weekly meeting with a show-and-tell theme. This is to show off what the team has accomplished during a specific time period with your clients. If it is impossible for every team member to attend this meeting face-to-face, consider other methods of higher-bandwidth communication such as using Skype or other similar video conference application for a group conference.  

It is important to always remember to NEVER rely on emails for your primary form of communication. Using this method to discuss a project can easily lose meaning and intent, or worse, information sent across email can be misinterpreted.

Always Be Visible

As part of a team that uses Agile as a form of project management, one must always find a way to effectively and simply communicate with other members regarding the progress being made in a project.

Our team would like to stress that it should be a very simple and highly visible board that shows what people are working on, traditionally called a Kanban board. These days, many agile teams have transitioned to digital Kanban boards with advanced features for organising work and tasks for the team.

Make Sure to Conduct Regular Checkups

Conducting regular team checkups ensures that you are all doing what needs to be done in order for the project and the team to maintain optimum “health”. 

These checkups do not need to be a formal meeting, it can simply be a breakfast meeting, or a group conversation over pizza on a Friday afternoon.

The goal is for the team to get together to chat about what they believe is going well with the project as well as what areas need fixing.

Always Define What Was “Done”

Instead of having random numbers that characterise what is “done”, you can instead create a checklist that qualifies something to be considered as “done”, agreed by the whole team.  In this case, a “done” checklist can be really helpful to analyse tasks as well as any other process in the project’s development.

Checklists are fairly easy to create and to use. You can use this checklist during your regular checkups to add or remove items from it. Doing this will continue to capture the team’s improvement and consistency.

All of these Agile project management techniques will come in handy to manage chaos in any organisation. Of course,these techniques should not contradict with any other methods or models that you are using, but if using Agile, these techniques can help you along your journey of adopting even more Agile practices.

Mark Twain once said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” Although Mark Twain was not a software development manager, his words still rings true when it comes to how one can get started in using or adopting techniques on Agile project management.

Date Posted:
June 14, 2019

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