When you talk about agile management, the conversation usually gets stuck in jargon that means nothing to the uninitiated. In the absence of a well-known vocabulary, practical recommendations are blocked in clarification questions. But how do you do agile projects without a completely new approach to management? More importantly, how do you keep them agile so that you have sustainable results? The following are practical guidelines for answering this question.
1. Set achievable goals
Agile management insists on incremental iterations to complete a project. In simpler terms: "don't bite more than you can chew." You work on big projects slowly, inch by inch. The agile methodology was originally designed so that software developers can develop one part, then test it, develop another part, and then test it again.
Agile projects last from a few weeks to a few months, never more. The teams are a manageable group of up to 9 people, who self-organize about all aspects of the project. Each iteration has exact goals and achieving them in all iterations is a sure recipe for project success.
Experience shows that this approach can be used effectively for non-software products and project management in general. The trick is to have achievable goals and not aspire to too much. This provides room for development/production, testing and improvement before moving on to the next goal. It also helps to deliver a functional product before the deadline, which is the essence of an agile project.
2. Achieve something by the deadline
The agile approach is ruthless in addressing deadlines and results. Agile uses iterative processes, which means that virtually every iteration has a hard and fast deadline. This term does not move. This deadline is not postponed. This term remains, even if the sky falls.
When the deadline comes, you look at what you've done or completed - anything. It can be embarrassing. It can be awful. The code may look like garbage. The design might look like garbage. But you have something. Something is always better than nothing. And with that something you can make decisions, make changes, give feedback. This is the formula for success in the agile approach.
The key to an agile project is to get started. The only way you can do that is to have something. It doesn't have to be the final product, and the customer won't see it. But the important thing is that you have created something and you can only improve from that point.
Iterations set the pace of the project. They are planned and used to identify tasks, resources, but also to estimate the total effort. This is especially important for large projects, which have multiple teams working towards a common goal. Planning clearly defines the tasks to be performed and reduces ambiguity.
3. Make quick changes
Agile methodology is a systematic approach to success. It has built-in flexibility and adaptability. That is, it produces intelligent change. To make quick changes, the decision maker needs to do two things. First of all, it must be present and involved in the real development process. It's hard to make decisions about something you don't know.
Second, you need to make quick decisions. A decision, even a wrong one, is helpful because it helps the project move forward with feedback.
Ultimately, the goal of any project is to provide the customer with a sustainable product that meets all of their requirements. This can only be done if the code quality is superior and the design is good enough to withstand sudden changes.
Testing is therefore the driving force behind agile projects. Testing individual units to eliminate errors ensures a faster and more flexible response to change without exceeding budgets.
These are the most basic issues relevant to agile projects. As you make the transition to agile management, these approaches and principles will help you change your mindset. You will work together to have a more flexible team and to adapt to changes as they arise. Agile is not for everyone, but teams that use it correctly will experience enormous benefits, streamlined work processes, and rapid innovation.
So what are the three practical recommendations for agile management?
1. Set small achievable goals
2. Achieve something by the deadline
3. Make quick changes.
These three basic elements will keep the projects agile, ensuring attention to detail and the discipline of developing an excellent final product. Moreover, the benefits of the agile approach will have a strong impact on the company's revenue generation and culture, which justifies the widespread adoption of this methodology. This approach is only useful as long as it continues to be implemented and we do not fall back on the old comfortable way of working, which has less tangible benefits.
About Constantin Magdalina
Constantin Magdalina has 15 years of working experience, while he performed in multinationals both in Romania and abroad. Constantin has a Master’s degree in Marketing and Business Communication from the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. He is certified in Lean Six Sigma and ITIL (IT Information Library®) which provide him a good understanding of processes and transformations within organizations. The Chartered Institute of Marketing certification further complemented his expertise and knowledge in business. In his over 4 years of working activity in a Big4 company, he initiated and conducted studies that analyzed different aspects related to the business environment in Romania. He is the author of numerous articles on topics related to innovation, the efficiency of business processes, social media, the consumers’ buying experience in the age of digital, trends, and emergent technologies. He is invited as a speaker at numerous events and business conferences.