When agility rhymes with modernity!
Agile approach" are not words describing the hunting technique of an alligator, the dexterity of an ice skater, or even the precision of a Cirque du Soleil trapezist as he flies... no! In a world far from the rainforest or the magic of a circus tent, an agile approach describes a methodology that supports project managers in their work. It may not sound as glamorous as an artist in the spotlight, but it is a successful way of structuring your work.
Formally created in 2001 by a group of software developers, the agile methodology was designed to help project teams achieve goals quickly in a constantly changing environment.
But where are we at today and how is this methodology being used?
Nowadays, being 'agile' is mainly about breaking down a project into several stages and requiring continuous collaboration with different stakeholders - stakeholders of which clients very often have a major role to play. Indeed, the agile method is often used when one wants to offer a product on the market that is tailor-made to the end-users. To this end, the development of the product must be based on iterations to consider the needs and feedback of the customers as they arise.
The following video will help you to better visualize the main lines that define the agile way of managing a project:
Let us now compare the agile method and the traditional project management method:
Let's go back to our software developers for a moment. They are responsible for the legendary "Manifesto for Agile Development". The four key manifesto values they propose allow us to directly compare an agile way of working with a more conventional one:
Values of the agile method
- People and their interactions are essential.
- Operational solutions that aim to solve problems are preferred.
- Collaboration with customers is the main approach to product development.
- The response to change is in iteration and flexible.
Values of the traditional method
- The processes and tools used are the keys to the success of a project.
- It is better to invest time in creating comprehensive documentation.
- To define priorities, it is important to follow the elements resulting from the initial contractual negotiation.
- Success is guaranteed when a precise and rigid plan is established and followed.
Are there risks if the agile method is poorly implemented within a project management team?
Yes, and the risks are the following:
- The initial objectives are not met
- Deadlines are exceeded
- The product development is time and resource-consuming
- The project team becomes worn out and unmotivated
- Talented people who were adding value to the process are dropping out
- The implementation of the product on a larger scale is chaotic and difficult
So what are the key success factors of the agile method?
Among the first elements that contribute to the success of a project managed with agility is the sharing and development of agile working and collaboration methods. In other words, it is an iterative process. This will allow the project to get up and running while allowing the flexibility to gather empirical data, which will be valuable for the project's flexibility, as it progresses.
Keeping an open mind to the major changes taking place in the market also helps to ensure success. In this way, it is possible to adapt to recent innovations and maintain (or improve) one's leading position.
It is also very important to ensure that you have a team of motivated people who contribute to the team dynamics. These individuals are not necessarily the "flashiest profiles" or the people that are the most talked about. Indeed, these individuals do excellent work and are likely to be less involved in various projects.
The people in the project management team that is based on the Agile methodology are fully involved in the project and their time is not spent on other activities. The reasoning is that full commitment is needed so that team members can cope with the demanding schedule of daily meetings while remaining focused on the key objectives.
Finally, the person leading the project team must be at the service of others. This person must be altruistic, have empathy, and a spirit of synthesis that enables him/her to sort out the most relevant information.
Do you think that the agile methodology would be suitable for your working environment? Have you already implemented it or do you plan to do so soon? And if so, how?
Illustrations by Storyset