In modern online, offline, on-site, and remote workplaces, there seems to be a plethora of ways to manage your employees and their work. Building and maintaining a performance-driven, inclusive work environment isn’t easy, and a significant part of that is managing your projects to maximize culture, efficiency, and happiness throughout.
While there are also many methodologies that you can use to run successful projects from inception to completion, today we’ll be focusing on Agile project management. This methodology is a proven way to take good care of your people, your customers, and the product itself throughout the project.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Agile project management?
Agile project management is a process and a methodology derived from the Agile methodology in software development. Agile project management uses the core principles of Agile to ensure smooth team management and collaboration and continuous improvement throughout the project while staying within budget and project scope.
While it draws inspiration from Agile, it’s important to note that Agile project management can take many forms based on unique business requirements. That said, the key concepts and pillars we’ll be talking about today remain the same.
Agile project management puts a high emphasis on the people and their needs. This is why business leaders use Agile change management to bring greater flexibility and seamless change to the organization as a whole.
Taken down to the project level, Agile uses people, working software, and feedback to create a performance-driven work environment for all. This allows for continuous testing, reducing the risk of error and ensuring that the team rolls out the best product possible.
Here’s what that means in practice.
Utilizing the people-first approach
First things first, it’s important to keep in mind that Agile project management prioritizes people over tools and processes. This means that to build high-functioning teams for your projects, you first need to surround yourself with the right people.
Choosing the right people for your projects and tending to their needs relative to the project requirements is the first step to efficiency and collaboration. But don’t worry—the tools, software, and processes will soon follow suit.
Focusing on the talent first allows you to build your project scopes, workflows, and processes based on your human resources and outsource talent requirements if necessary.
Agile project management is a good choice when you’re managing remote teams, as you can set the processes and policies for global outsourcing and managing workers abroad. Given the high availability of global remote talent nowadays, this creates a golden opportunity to bring the best of the best to your project.
One of the best examples of Agile adoption comes from the tech giant, Philips. The company adopted Agile work, software development, and project management methodologies to help remove bureaucracy and implement a culture of continuous progress.
With numerous changes to its management structure and significant changes to its processes, using Agile allowed Philips to ensure faster product development, increase quality and workflow, and minimize errors.
Focusing on the needs of your target audience
In the same way, it focuses on the team's needs and the project's talent requirements, Agile project management emphasizes the customers. These are the end-users of your products and services, and that’s why their needs, goals, and ultimately feedback are essential for the success of your projects.
Whether you’re developing new products or services or if the project is all about reinventing your employer brand, focusing on your target audience will be the key to success. The way to do this is to continuously research and stay on top of the trends in your market and to monitor the chatter around important topics and conversations in your niche.
This will ensure that your project managers and your teams are constantly in the loop and are able to pivot and optimize their processes if necessary. You want the agility to make changes along the way to suit your target audience while staying within project parameters and budget.
Leveraging the right software
Once you have chosen the right people and set up the processes to collect data and feedback from your target audience, you can integrate the right tools for every job. Good software is the foundational pillar of Agile project management, and it’s crucial to empower your employees to do better work while maintaining a work-life balance.
Nowadays, software is a key element of a good work-life balance because it allows your team members to be more efficient while spending less time on repetitive tasks. Instead, they can focus on collaboration and the more complex tasks that drive the project forward.
The first step here is to make your digital work environment and your tools and applications accessible to all employees. Whether your people work in-house or remotely, you can deliver a centralized work environment with a DaaS (Desktop as a Service) solution to enable all teams to collaborate seamlessly on every project.
Aside from collaboration, it’s essential to ensure every team has access to the tools they need, especially from which they’ll extract meaningful data and share progress. Efficient communication is also important, so make sure that your centralized communication tools can support all teams and cross-department collaboration.
Continuous improvement through feedback
As we mentioned briefly, continuous improvement is one of the foundational pillars of Agile project management simply because you need feedback for incremental progress. You can’t hope to keep the project going day by day and make progress without collecting input and data from your teams or your customers.
Keep in mind that you can trial the services and products you’re developing with a select audience and use this to collect vast amounts of data for your project teams. That, coupled with the feedback you collect from your team members, will give you plenty of insight into how you need to steer your project to stay on budget while achieving the best possible results.
Moreover, remember that feedback is a two-way street and that you also need to give constructive feedback to your employees to keep the project on the right track.
Post-project analysis and optimization
Upon project completion, you might think that your work as a project manager is done, but that’s where Agile project management has one more task for you. One of the biggest strengths of Agile in the software development world is that it emphasizes post-launch analysis, feedback, and optimization.
This means that in the project management world, you have the opportunity to assess the finished project from start to end and even collect post-project feedback. Why? Because you want to improve your processes, your software, and your teams for future projects.
Collect data from your teams as well as your target audience, analyze every stage of the project, and generate insights that will drive efficiency and innovation in your company.
A great example is JP Morgan Chase, which used Agile methodologies to improve product development while maximizing its onboarding and training budget. The banking giant used Agile to develop new legacy systems and platforms and leveraged Agile project management to create efficient IT processes and workflows.
This also allowed for faster application deployment and better functionality on site.
Over to you
Agile project management is an effective way to take everything that makes Agile work in software development and use it as a recipe for success in your company. When it comes to managing your people, in-house and remotely, and efficiently taking projects from inception to completion, Agile seems to be the way to do it right.
Be sure to use these tips to take your business forward in 2023 and beyond.