How Agile Project Management Will Transform Your Business

How does a business make money?

That’s not a trick question…

Businesses make money by giving customers what they want.

How then does Agile Project Management (Agile PM) help companies make more money?

Agile PM helps companies make more money by ensuring they deliver what the customer will be delighted with.

Why You Need Agile Project Management

When I work with organisations – both large and small – I find many are frustrated with their work processes. There is often a sense that, “…there must be a better way to do things!”

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Of course, some organisations are more productive than others. Indeed, some teams within organisations are more productive than others. But if you recognize any of these following issues, then implementing Agile PM would make a real difference for you:

  • Delays and bottlenecks in your processes
  • Starting projects but never finishing them
  • Projects running late and over budget
  • Poor communications within teams
  • Moving goalposts
  • Low morale and procrastination

These common challenges are what drives managers and supervisors to look for alternative ways to manage projects and team members.

Agile Means Lots of Things to Different People

One of the difficulties when explaining Agile PM to others is that everyone has their own interpretation of the word “agile” or “agility”.

For some, agile means flexibility. It means a willingness to be open-minded and respond quickly to change. For others, it’s about efficiency and being lean. And for others, it’s about being innovative and creative.

These definitions are all useful.

The problem is that when managers talk to staff about the need for greater agility, no one really knows what this means on a day-to-day basis. People understand the concept of being efficient, lean and accurate. But this understanding does little to help them change their daily behaviours.

Agile Project Management Formalises Agility

Agile Project Management has its roots in the development of Lean Manufacturing, It’s a fascinating history and a topic we may return to in future blog posts. Suffice to say that many people over several decades have attempted to document work processes that improve rather than constrain how people work. This is why there are so many Project Management approaches e.g. Prince2, PMBOK etc.

One of the first areas of business that worked out how to be truly agile was the software industry. Through trial and error, and over a period of decades, the software community began to be describe a number of powerful techniques to, ‘get work done’.

These practices include activities such as The Daily Stand-Up.

This is where team members spend 10 to 15 minutes per day, standing up, talking about what they did yesterday, what they plan to do today and any problems that are getting in the way.

Software teams often make use of Kanban Boards

These are physical or electronic noticeboards that teams use to display the amount of work they have to do, what they are currently working on and what they have already achieved. Kanban boards are a great way for teams to ‘make work visible’ and keep everyone focused on the tasks at hand.

Other techniques include the idea of Sprints.

Sprints are defined blocks of time – often 1 to 2 weeks – where teams agree on the amount of work they will tackle and what will be delieverd by the end of the Sprint. During the Sprints, teams plan their group and individual activities and work together to set targets.

There are many other Agile Project Management techniques software teams use to stay agile. These tools and techniques are simple to understand and easy to apply. Taken together, they form a powerful framework through which teams can remain flexible and focused whilst delivering huge value.

The beauty of the Agile PM approach is that it provides a structured method for improving how organisations work. Agile is now so well practised that any organisation considering adopting it has an enormous range of tools to choose from. In other words, any business challenge you have has almost certainly been solved by someone else.

You can probably tell that I’m a big fan of Agile Project Management! I genuinely believe that it is an incredibly powerful and transformative approach to organisational life.

The problem I find, is that it is often senior managers who need to be convinced.

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How to Explain Agile PM To Your Boss

If you are introducing Agile PM to your senior management team, they should be aware of agile principles and values. If they are, then they should quickly realise how Agile could transform the business.

However, if they are unaware of how Agile P.M. works then your job is trickier. Here then, some of the proven benefits of Agile PM that you can use argue your case.

The proven benefits of adopting Agile include:

  • Making good decisions quickly
  • Effective communications
  • Maintaining workflow and productivity
  • Enabling personal growth
  • Delivering value quickly
  • Gaining competitive edge
  • Delighting your customers

If these benefits don’t make your senior team set up and take notice then I don’t think anything will!

Agile Is Easy: Change Is Hard

Implementing Agile PM is not something you can do overnight. Even new organisations have embedded norms and codes of practice that can be difficult to change. Nevertheless, the challenge of implementing agile project management is well worth it. The benefits outweigh the costs.

Although Agile PM is closely associated with the software world, it’s starting to transform many different types of organisations. And once you’ve been exposed to it, it’s impossible to imagine working any other way.

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