Agile Project Management 10 Tips from the Masters

Agile is more of a mindset thing than a methodology for project management. It also involves a change in your culture and organization, and implementing the framework and practices of agile will lead to agility in how your business is run.

If you really understand the concept of agile, its benefits, and roadblocks, you are likely to think that your team will be able to carry it out.

However, you can’t be more wrong than this. Knowing it is one thing, practicing it is actually the real deal.

When it comes to agile, there’s a massive gap between understanding and mastery.

So, if you truly want to build your project management culture around agile, then you should look no further than the masters for help and expert tips.

If you have made the move and have contacted some IT leaders about agile project management, you will most likely get similar kinds of tips from them.

Here are 10 tips to help you succeed with agile project management.

1. Carry out regular training

According to experts, if you do not give your team expert training on agile and you expect them to use this model, it is like you are sending soldiers to war without training or war equipment. That is how important it is to regularly train your staff with the agile model. It is not enough to understand it and be able to explain agile all day long.

Agile is quite tricky, it can appear very straightforward when you are looking at it on the surface level but in reality, it has many hidden complexities.

Training is essential to bridge the gap between understanding and mastery of agile.

2. Take on-boarding seriously

Different companies are likely to have an individual approach to agile.

Orangescrum, for instance, takes a very different approach to agile than many companies do, as they try to carry all staff along.

This is why the on-boarding process becomes very important.

When you employ new people to your team, you should onboard them with your agile approach as a company and state clearly their participation and the role they will be playing.

Otherwise, this will lead to many times wasting misunderstandings which you would have avoided with a proper on-boarding process.

If you can, hire an expert with agile to give your team a head start.

3. Use agile alongside lean development

Although executing agile project management methodologies is good, you should know that it is not enough.

With agile, you will know how you can build very fast with very minimal risks, but you really would not get the idea of what to build or why you are building it from your agile model. That is where lean becomes important.

Lean allows you to figure out the optimum number of characteristics that you need to get the maximum ROI.

For project management teams and organizations, the problem does not lie with the completed project, but with the backlog.

That is why pairing agile and lean development will always be a good idea.

4. Be sure that agile is right for your development

Now, this might be a tough pill to swallow, especially if you are affected.

But the truth is that there are some companies that are not suited or do not have what is required to properly implement agile.

Project Managers and companies that love to micromanage or departments that regularly fight fires are definitely not suited to implement agile.

It is important that you carry out an honest assessment of the weaknesses and strengths of your department before you commit yourself to agile when you are not suited for it.

5. Lead by example

Like many other cores of project management, leaders have to be able to lead by example.

And this involves carrying out some core agile practices. Some of the things that you can do to lead by example are to:

  • Be transparent and open in visualizing all work while also inviting feedback and conversation.
  • Drive for course correction and continuous improvement and be quick to hold retrospectives.
  • Encourage team members to synchronize their work together daily.

6. Get a good cadence

Agile might be difficult to execute but it really should not be an unending cycle of development that does not have a finish line in sight.

It is actually the opposite. You can set your budgets, milestones, and epics.

You only have to ensure that you continue to learn something new and also re-prioritize your work accordingly.

Allow yourself to learn and set a good cadence where you have time to re-evaluate the works that are yet undone.

At Orangescrum, the project management team decides the work with the highest value which they can ship for the whole week – and just go on from there.

7. Speed things up with cross-functional support

No one builds anything in a vacuum. This is exactly why your team can still fail at agile even if they follow all the guidelines and principles of agile to the letter.

For easy retrieval of critical information, you have to ensure that your team has that interconnected with other departments in your company.

If these departments fail to respect your process, they may seriously put your project at risk.

So, you have to find your way around pushing your priorities to other important departments through the executive team.

You should also carry these departments along at the start of the project, so that they are prepared to fill in your dependencies and not delay your deadlines.

8. Focus on the “what” not the “how”

A common benefit of running the agile model of project management is the kind of flexibility that you have to get a project done or achieve a particular outcome without even knowing what to do beforehand at the start of the project.

Your focus should be on trying to get that result or outcome and being flexible enough to do it within a budget and time frame.

9. Payback people who are driving changes on the front line

There will always be a need for organizations to balance the constant change in the demands of the customer and the organization’s need to show how much progress they have made for the customers’ benefits.

This applies not just to IT and development, but to the different parts of a business, and it is also ideal to implement agile as early as possible.

However, if you want to see a serious and long-lasting agile change within your company or organization, then you have to make it appeal to your staff and team members.

The major issue for you is not whether you need to change or how to change. The problem rather is how you are going to convince a member of your team about the change.

That’s why you need to reward those people on the front line driving the change for you.

10. Align your goals with agile

It is easy to think of agile as a silver bullet, but the truth is it is more subtle than that.

If you really want to see changes in your organization, then you have to make sure that everybody understands the problem that you are trying to solve with the agile method and the results that you expect to see after resolving those problems.

Conclusion

With agile, it is easy to talk the talk than walk the walk. But executing this project management methodology is actually worth it.

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