May 18, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Agile Project Management
Some of us are natural-born “planners.” We plan out every moment of our lives in detail, from what we will be doing on the weekend to how many children we want and what their names will be, to how our career will progress – in detail! Others of us are “doers” and are more spontaneous, nervous if too many plans are made for us; we would rather live our lives with flexibility and freedom to make plans as we go. If you sit down and think about how last year’s activities evolved, you will probably be able to determine on which side of the spectrum you belong: a planner or a doer?
What’s great about project management is that it brings both sides of the spectrum together so that planners will eventually execute and do their project tasks and doers must first plan their project tasks before jumping right in. A relatively new way to do project management has made this merger of “planners” and “doers” even more seamless: Agile principles and practices.
What Exactly Is Agile? Agile is a philosophy that focuses on people, collaboration and shared values to get projects done. The Agile philosophy can be best described by the Agile Manifesto, which was written back in 2001 by a group of software project managers. The Agile Manifesto describes Agile as valuing the following:
- Individuals & Interactions over Process & Tools
- Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation
- Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation
- Responding to Change over Following a Plan
From taking a look at these, it would seem like Agile falls more to the side of the “doers” than the “planners” – and this is partially true. Agile practitioners pride themselves in doing what they say and saying what they do, as well as allowing for and embracing change in project requirements.
But not to worry, planners, there’s plenty of opportunity for you as well in the Agile realm. In Agile, teams plan in “Sprints,” which is exactly how it sounds – planning in small, fast bursts. Before every sprint there is a “Sprint Planning” meeting where the team meets with the products owner and decides what needs to get done in the next sprint. After the sprint the team goes through a “Sprint Review” where the team will demonstrate the incremental value that was attained during the sprint.
Using this method, planning and doing go back and forth in rapid succession to create clear transparency in what everyone is doing and what the project team should be focusing on.
How Does Agile Relate to Traditional Project Management? While the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition) does not specifically mention Agile methodologies, it does not contradict them, either. In fact, the PMBOK discusses iterative approaches to project management, which can be applied to projects managed using Agile principles and practices. Therefore it’s not an either or relationship, but rather that they complement each other. The use of Agile techniques is particularly useful in projects that require quick responses to change along with communication to customers.
Why Should You Care? OK, let’s cut to the chase. Why are we talking so much about Agile when this isn’t even an article about yoga? In the project management field, Agile principles and practices are topics of growing interest and importance. PMI’s research shows that the use of Agile methodologies has tripled from December 2008 to May 2011. In fact, it’s predicted that by the end of 2012, Agile development will be used on 80% of all projects involving software development. But it’s not just about software anymore. Agile methods are being use more and more by industries other than software because of its proven ability to decrease product defects, improve team productivity, and increase the delivery of business value.
About the Know How Network and Cheetah Learning
The Know How Network is a monthly column written by Michelle LaBrosse, the founder and Chief Cheetah of Cheetah Learning. Distributed to hundreds of newsletters and media outlets around the world, the Know How Network brings the promise, purpose and passion of Project Management to people everywhere. Visit www.cheetahlearning.com to learn more about Cheetah PM, the fastest way to learn about Project Management and get your PMP. You can also get your career in gear with CheetahWare, free Project Management tools from Cheetah Learning.
About the Author
Michelle LaBrosse is the founder and Chief Cheetah of Cheetah Learning. An international expert on accelerated learning and Project Management, she has grown Cheetah Learning into the market leader for Project Management training and professional development. In 2006, The Project Management Institute, www.pmi.org, selected Michelle as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the World, and only one of two women selected from the training and education industry. Michelle is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner & President Management program for entrepreneurs, and is the author of Cheetah Project Management and Cheetah Negotiations. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company and has 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide.
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