One of the greatest sports movies of our time, Remember the Titans, is filled with great quotes. One of those quotes is when coach Herman Boone is trying to pump up his team at the end of practice:
What are you?
Mobile, agile, hostile!
What is pain?
What is fatigue?
Will you ever quit?
No! We want some mo’, we want some mo’, we want some mo’!
While your project manager or fellow developers may not have such a memorable chant, you still can become quite agile and mobile (and potentially hostile). You might have seen agile thrown around a bit, but what does it mean and what does it have to do with project management? Does it have any benefits? What does it mean for the end product?
Today, we’re going to be jumping into how the benefits of agile project management, how you can use it with a number of different areas, and how they can help you accomplish tasks and achieve your goals more quickly and fluidly.
Let’s Talk About Agile Project Management
For starters, what exactly is agile project management? Is it a method of working? A philosophy? A unique approach to project management?
The answer to those questions is: yes, it is.
Project development can take on many forms, especially during the early stages. Planning is crucial for any new project and inexperienced project managers might take a bit of time before they feel 100% confident in their approach.
One of the reasons we’re such big fans of agile project management is because it’s an iterative approach to project management. Stepping away from traditional project management This means that development has multiple releases and sessions with customer feedback. While regular customer feedback may seem scary to some, we’ve found that there are multiple benefits that come with using agile project management. Let’s dive into those benefits right away.
Continuous feedback might sound quite scary to some, but there are plenty of benefits from receiving constant and regular feedback. As anyone that’s ever designed or built something for a customer, their opinion is important but too much of their opinion may cause delays and frustration on both sides.
However, it’s not just feedback from the client that you’ll be receiving, but feedback from your team. One of the big components of agile is making sure your team feels comfortable and open to exchange ideas or thoughts. Therefore, you’re going to be seeking feedback from each member on a regular basis.
Although your web designer is the expert, sending that design to the web developer to receive some feedback keeps them in the loop. Your content writer may send over a quick draft to the web designer to make sure everything seems clear. These feedback loops allow ideas and decisions to be tested early and often. That way, problems can be detected earlier and resolved quicker.
The biggest “enemy” (remember, we have to be hostile!) to agile is what’s typically referred to as waterfall management. Projects advance through certain phases and once a project passes on from one phase to another, it’s extremely to revisit a past phase as teams are constantly pressing forward. Any revisitation is both costly, feels like a setback, and can cause more delays.
That’s why making changes with the waterfall approach is so difficult. A tiny change in Phase One could mean bigger changes in Phases Two or Three. Plus, parts of your team might be ready to move onto the next phases but a certain part of your team might be holding everything back. This can grind the project to a halt and make any demo sessions difficult or impossible.
When it comes to agile project management, however, your team is going to have constant opportunities to build, adapt, and learn. Team members can be moved around seamlessly to other areas while issues are resolved. This allows members with overlapping skill sets to make changes and avoid any blocking issues.
Improved Client Satisfaction
At the end of the day, teams want to make sure the client is satisfied with the project. High satisfaction means positive feedback, potential referrals, more future clients, and a happier business. Hooray!
How does agile improve customer satisfaction?
By implementing agile methodologies, you’ll be able to provide different reviews and checkpoints at a more frequent part. Since you won’t be hamstrung by certain processes, you can show features, functionalities, and progress at standups or reviews.
Your client can also get early access to projects and help provide important feedback. How much of that feedback you want to take into consideration is up to you, but anytime the client feels like they’re being listened to is important for overall satisfaction.
There isn’t a project out there that doesn’t have some kind of risk attached. Problems can arise unexpectedly at just about anytime, catching your team off guard and instantly setting everyone back.
Agile can reduce your risks almost to zero. Failing or falling short is almost impossible by making use of agile, meaning you and your team can have the confidence in knowing while projects may experience setbacks, failures will be almost non-existent.
With constant feedback loops and checks, there aren’t long periods of time between the initial investment and checks. If there is project failure, however, it’s likely to be caught early through your open channels and feedback. That saves you both time and money in having to reevaluate or potentially start over.
With agile, you’ll be able to release products earlier to gain customer feedback and make any necessary adaptations to market changes. You’ll be able to stay one step ahead of the competition by making quick adjustments and changes without experiencing any setbacks.
Speaking of money…
All of the above points are all well and good, but we all know that the bottom line is one of the most important factors in any business decision. With the extra money, you can reinvest back into the project itself or into your business.
Not only does agile project management save you money, but it also saves you money quicker. For starters, projects can begin earlier. Development can take place quicker and less is invested in the initial planning stages. Less time there allows for more development to take place. Add in the fact that agile encourages flexibility and regular feedback, and you’re more likely to fix small errors or resolve errors before they become large problems.
A large problem, such as a data breach, can cost millions of dollars. No business can risk such a mistake.
Things to Watch Out For
Of course, using agile isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There are some pitfalls that you and your team have to make sure you’re keeping an eye out for. One of the biggest pitfalls is the ease to get sidetracked. With waterfall management, it’s easy to know when you’re onto the next phase of a project and new team members can be implemented on the go.
With agile, it can sometimes be hard to ensure everyone is working on the correct process. Documentation can easily fall out of order and management can be a little bit tougher. Because of this, it’s also a bit more difficult to measure exact progress. Without being able to track progress by solid benchmarks using numbered phases, it’s a bit tougher to say exactly where a project is in development. In connection with that point, projects can sometimes have no clear end date in sight. There is no “final phase” and it can be easier to get discouraged with an unclear ending.
How can you go about avoiding these potential pitfalls?
One way is to make sure you’re working with a small team and keeping things tight together. Agile can certainly fall apart if there are “too many cooks in the kitchen” and feedback loops look more like continuous, endless cycles.
You should also be documenting all processes and functions in a place where everyone has access. Here at Atiba, we love to use Jira as it’s a great way to monitor progress and communication among team members.
This does mean that everyone will have to be diligent note-takers and project managers should encourage members to document their work and bring in other team members when necessary.
As you can see, there are a number of fantastic benefits when it comes to making use of agile project management. Communication is improved, processes don’t face certain roadblocks, and projects can be finished at a faster rate. Clients will be happier as they feel more involved in the project and your team can react quickly to any sudden changes or market trends.
At Atiba, we are fans of the agile methodology as it allows us to work better with our clients, maintain higher satisfaction, and get your project pushed out quicker. If your company is looking to get started on your next project, reach out to us today for your project quote. We look forward to working together and becoming more agile, mobile, and (potentially) hostile!