The Agile Manifesto is the foundation of most modern project management methodologies. It has four core values supplemented by 12 principles. Project managers make use of these principles to deliver extraordinary products, with both value and quality, while staying within the given constraints of the project.
The actual document consisting of the values and principles of the Agile approach was developed in 2001 by a group of 17 software engineers at a ski resort in Utah. The ‘Agile Alliance’ was created to challenge the status quo and completely change the approach to problem-solving and project management.
What started as a guide for software development has now become a globally accepted philosophy for handling projects. Today, Agile is not only used by software development teams but by almost every function of a business. Many of the original members of the Agile Alliance went on to develop other popular methodologies like Scrum, Crystal, and Integrated Agile based on the Agile methodology.
Unlike other project management frameworks, Agile gives complete freedom to the project team. There is no set of rules, frameworks, procedures, or hierarchy that must be followed. As long as you are adhering to the Agile values and Agile principles, you are good to go.
In the late ’90s, both workers and clients were frustrated with the existing project management methodologies like the Waterfall. The disparity between delivered products and the client’s requirements were huge. Delays were common and many projects were either canceled or left the clients unsatisfied with the performance.
Teams were more concerned about proper documentation rather than the customer’s requirements. Take the software industry for example. Traditional methods were unable to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the customers. Developers were unable to fully use the versatility of software development.
There was a consensus that companies are focusing on the wrong things and wasting their efforts. There was a need for an innovative, modern methodology that can quickly adapt to the changing circumstances and give certain freedom to the project teams in order to increase their efficiency and performance.
This value of the Agile manifesto focuses on giving importance to communication with the clients. There are several things a client may want to ask and it is the responsibility of the team members to ensure that all questions and suggestions of the clients are promptly dealt with.
In the past, more focus used to be on proper documentation of every aspect of the project. There were several times when this was done at the expense of the final product. The Agile values dictate that the first and foremost duty of the project team is completing the final deliverables as identified by the customers.
Agile principles require customers to be involved in all phases of the project. Traditional methodologies only allow customers to negotiate before and after the project. This used to result in wastage of both time and resources. If the customers are kept in the loop during the development process, team members can ensure that the final product meets all the requirements of the client.
Contrary to the management methodologies of the past, Agile values are against using elaborate plans before the start of the project and continue sticking to them no matter what. Circumstances change and sometimes customers demand extra features in the final product that may change the scope of the project. In these cases, project managers and their teams must adapt quickly in order to deliver a quality product and ensure 100% customer satisfaction
In the case of traditional management methodologies, customers get to see the product only after completion and when several tests and quality checks have been performed. This not only keeps the customers in dark but also makes it problematic for the team members to introduce any changes in the product. In order to keep the customers happy, it’s important to continuously engage them with a working version of the product. Show small increments every sprint and make changes as required.
Handling a huge and complex task would be both time and energy-consuming. A better way is to divide the task into smaller parts that can be easily completed. The customers would always be kept in the loop and it would be easier for the team members to identify potential bottlenecks and handle any potential delays.
The Agile philosophy favors a smaller time frame and frequent delivery of the product. This iterative process requires team members to continuously improve their performance.
A major problem associated with traditional project management methodologies is that the stakeholders are often oblivious to the development stages of the project. The Agile principles encourage all stakeholders to remain involved in all stages of the project in order to ensure constant feedback and a valuable end product.
It is the responsibility of the project manager to create an encouraging and motivating environment where members are not afraid to voice their opinions and give suggestions for the betterment of the team’s performance. Giving the team members the confidence and motivating them would cause their overall performance to improve significantly which will ultimately be better for the project.
In the Agile manifesto, a lot of importance is given to effective communication between the involved parties. For effective communication, methods like memos and email are not preferred and more importance is given to face-to-face communication. This is now easier because of the advances in communication technologies. All stakeholders can now have a meeting through video conferencing rather than coming to the office for a short meeting.
The only factor to measure success is the delivery of a working product that satisfies the customer. Before Agile, there were many measures of success and that resulted in a drop in the quality of the final product.
A repeatable and iterative pattern should be established where product development takes place at a constant rate. This prevents the team members from being overwhelmed and over-stressed, while the project keeps on progressing at an acceptable rate.
Providing value to the customer is the primary objective of any Agile team. It’s extremely important to have a multi-skilled team that can handle all the technical aspects of the project and provides the opportunity for continuous improvement.
In each time box, the tasks at hand should be the main focus of all team members. Too much planning and adding extra features to the product should be avoided during the development.
A self-organized team with decision-making powers would simply perform better because the responsibility of satisfying the customers will on the team members, rather than a single project manager.
Agile methodologies stand on the concept of iteration, where teams learn from their past mistakes and continuously improve their performance. Project managers should promote sessions where the whole team reflects on their performance and discuss ways to improve their technical and management skills.
Although Agile methodologies are not too complicated, you still needed some help from experts in the past. But now, you can shift to Agile principles and values by using different software available in the market.
Kissflow Projects is one of those applications which is intuitive for those who do not know much about the Agile Methodology. It is a free project management software and offers a simple interface and Kanban boards to organize all your tasks. You can add team members, collaborate with them on the board, and track progress easily.