Do you like to keep up with trends? I do! Be it with fashion- what is in fashion, or what is outdated, or as my profession calls for it – being updated on judgments. Whether a particular judgment has been upheld or overturned, I like to keep up with the times. I feel that it is required for my growth. Some personally, some professionally but overall, for my development as a human being.
This is what led me to Agile Project Management. As a manager of a team I lead, I want to ensure that we complete the projects we have with efficiency and efficacy in order to deliver quality products. Traditionally in project management, the waterfall method was adopted.
In a waterfall method, a sequence of steps had to be followed in order to move forward. Waterfall method was useful as it provided a clear structure and the end goal was clear and predictable. It also made information accessible. However, with changing times, it was soon realised that the waterfall method was more suited to traditional projects. There was little or no scope to make changes. With the waterfall method as the end goals were clear and predictable, there was minimal client involvement. The focus was more on the internal project team to complete the said project efficiently. Further, with waterfall method, as it is linear, testing could only be done at the end stage. Given that the nature of my team’s work is changing rapidly and we require flexibility and freedom to plan and work, I felt waterfall methodology was not something that could work out for us.
I have found Agile Project Management to be dynamic. Why, you may ask. I think the name itself suggests that and also the definition that helped me understand what Agile Project Management is – “Agile project management is an iterative approach to project management that focuses on breaking down large projects into more manageable tasks, which are completed in short iterations throughout the project life cycle. Teams that adopt the Agile methodology are able to complete work faster, adapt to changing project requirements, and optimize their workflow.”
In technical terms, this breaking down of a large project into more manageable tasks is called sprints. The benefit of agile methodology is that after each of these sprints it is possible to look back and see what we need to modify and make improvements accordingly. For example, one of the projects that we have as a team is to conduct capacity building programs for stakeholders. I think it is worthwhile to note here that we don’t conduct these capacity building program independently. It is conducted in partnership. So our first sprint is to identify which type of capacity building program we want to do, whether it is a seminar program, on job training etc depending on who the audience will be.
The next sprint is to decide what would be the objective of this capacity building program. And then we decide where we will hold the capacity building program, depending on the number of audience that the partner has in mind. Sometimes when we want to hold a seminar, we realise that the venues have already been booked, so we have had to back change from a seminar method to an on-job training for the stakeholders which changed the duration and strategy of the capacity building program, all the while keeping in mind the triple constraint.
The Agile Manifesto
The Agile Manifesto contains 4 core values and 12 principles of the Agile Project Management. In brief, the 4 core values of Agile Project Management are to, first, to focus on the clients rather than focusing on the process. This helps the clients to be satisfied that their needs are being taken care of. Second core value is to deliver the product over focusing on comprehensive documentation. Third is to focus on customer collaboration over contract negotiation and the fourth is to allow changes over following a rigid plan.
I feel that these four core values along with the 12 principles– can be summed up in the following words viz, to seek excellence, sustainability, and ensure continuous delivery of goods, bring in a culture where everyone has to collaborate and work together and as the name suggests, there is agility in the way the work needs to be done, if a particular strategy is not working then a new one can be developed which I feel could result in quality product. Above all, why I prefer this, is because it keeps the needs of the clients as a priority. It makes them feel heard and be a part of their project as we work to execute it.
Agile Project Management also has different methodologies that can be applied. But before you decide whether you want to follow the traditional way of managing a project or choosing the Agile way, it’s best to see what your needs are and then apply which methodology works best for you. What has worked for me, may not necessarily work for you. But, whatever you do, always factor in the triple constraint to stay on track.
Author: Zothanpuii Varte
 “Agile vs Waterfall: What’s the difference?” (2021) available online at: https://www.aipm.com.au/blog/agile-vs-waterfall-whats-the-difference
 The Beginner’s Guide to Agile Project Management Methodology, at https://www.workfront.com/project-management/methodologies/agile
 “What is Agile Project Management” available online at: https://www.apm.org.uk/resources/find-a-resource/agile-project-management/
 “What are the 12 principles of Agile Project Management?” available online at: https://kanbanize.com/agile/project-management/principles