You can’t go anywhere in the IT field without hearing the word Agile. It was originally designed to improve software development, in order to help software development teams react to a dynamic market and huge advances in technology that were happening so quickly.
Did you know that Agile project management can be used for non-software projects? Of course it can! Let’s talk about why you should start using agile project management today.
Maintaining a Product Backlog
What is a backlog and how can you utilize it in a non-software project? A backlog is a prioritized list of everything that will make up a product. Any product getting ready to be released to the market can have its own backlog. Ideally, the backlog should consist of the items that will help the team towards a beneficial result. The backlog helps the team to focus on value and prioritize items during the development of a product or service.
Using Sprints to deliver value
Sprints are short, time-boxed periods where the team works to complete a set amount of work. Sprints tend to be 2-4 weeks long and enable the team to produce predictability of a product. This also allows for adaptation of the product throughout the project lifecycle. If the time you plan for each piece of the product is too long then the goals may become invalid, complex issues and blockers may arise, which will increase the risk of the project.
When the team has time to adapt to issues and changes the team can self-organize to make the necessary modifications to the product or service. This fosters a culture where collaboration and access to information are the main focus.
Teams that take on a retrospective point of view will continuously improve on their deliverables. What can you learn from the previous project? The answer is A LOT! When the team as a whole and the individuals on it are given a chance to look back on the previous strategy, to really jump in and see what went wrong and what they should continue to do during the next project, they will continue to improve.
When you foster a mindset of continuous improvement on your team, you can ensure that the team will perform on each project differently and slightly better than the previous one. This will allow the company or team to continue to yield benefits in the long run, not only software companies!
What is iterative development? It is a method used to break down development of a product or service into smaller pieces and then roll them out piece by piece. Thus allowing projects to quickly and easily adapt to change. It is impossible to predict outcomes later in the project without first seeing how the early changes and decisions unfold. Agile project management allows the project to adapt to change as many times as necessary and thus eliminates risk of uncertainty, allowing even an enormous project to run smoothly.
Stakeholder feedback is collected in both structured and unstructured ways throughout an agile project. Non-software projects can benefit from stakeholder feedback in real-time. Imagine creating a product where many of the features are never utilized by the user because there was no feedback during the process of developing your product. Oh the resources that could be saved! Feedback late in the project or once the product is complete, can oftentimes be too time-consuming or end up costing more than what is budgeted.
If you are developing a new rewards program for your customers wouldn’t you be more successful if you surveyed some of your current rewards customers? Stakeholder feedback can guarantee the focus continues to be on delivering value to the stakeholders.
Let’s wrap it up
I hope you were able to see the benefits of utilizing agile project management in fluctuating and dynamic environments. You can even use agility in your daily personal life and goal setting.
Just remember agility is a mindset and not a set of guidelines. When you take the time and properly plan it, almost any product or service can be managed with the agility project management process and can benefit from it!