In this article, I will be talking about the five main benefits of agile project management and how it helps organizations, teams, and products. Let’s start off by briefly introducing agile methodology.
What Is Agile Project Management?
In general, when we talk about agile methodology, it implies an iterative and incremental method of management. It focuses on helping teams in an evolving landscape maintain a focus on the rapid delivery of business value. The methodologies used in Agile project management (Scrum, XP, Kanban, and others) all follow the Agile Manifesto that is based on continuous improvement, flexibility, the input of the team, and the delivery of results with high quality. I won’t go over this in detail but if you are interested, you can read more here about agile principles and agile outsourcing of software development.
Agile Methodology vs. Traditional Development
Before going through the benefits of agile project management, I would like to compare traditional and the agile development. In software development, we often talk about the traditional model, which refers to the Waterfall model. It's very different than the Agile method, especially because it’s not iterative. Waterfall is more about a process where you can see the progress flowing through the difference phases. In fact, it’s a sequential model usually consisting of requirement analysis, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. The image below illustrates the difference regarding the value proposition of both methodologies and how agile development tends to deliver visibility, adaptability, and value in the beginning of the process and reduces a lot the risks during the project.
Agile project management addresses the customer’s needs. During the whole cycle, user involvement is encouraged, providing visibility and transparency and showing the actual progress of projects. As mentioned earlier, the agile method is all about iterative planning, making it very easy to adapt when some requirements change (if you work in the software development industry, I am sure you know how much they can change!). The fact that there is continuous planning and feedback through the process means that we start delivering business value from the beginning of the project. Again, the idea is to deliver business value early in the process, making it easier to lower risks associated with development.
Let’s go through the five main benefits of agile project management, point by point.
1. Higher Product Quality
In agile development, testing is integrated during the cycle, which means that there are regular checkups to see that the product is working during the development. This enables the product owner to make changes if needed and makes the team is aware of any issues. Agile project management does the following:
- Defines and elaborates requirements just in time so that the knowledge of the product features is as relevant as possible.
- Incorporates Continuous Integration and daily testing into the development process, allowing the development team to address issues while they’re still fresh.
- Takes advantage of automated testing tools.
- Conducts Sprint retrospectives, allowing the Scrum team to continuously improve processes and work.
- Completes work using the Definition of Done: developed, tested, integrated, and documented.
- Ensures that software is developed in incremental, rapid cycles. This results in small incremental releases with each release building on previous functionality. Each release is thoroughly tested to ensure software quality is maintained.
2. Higher Customer Satisfaction
The Product Owner is always involved, the progress of development has high visibility, and flexibility to change is highly important. This implies engagement and customer satisfaction. Agile project management does the following:
- Demonstrates working functionalities to customers in every Sprint review.
- Delivers products to market quicker and more often with every release. The clients get early access to the product during the life cycle.
- Keeps customers involved and engaged throughout projects.
3. Increased Project Control
- Sprint meetings.
- Jira usage (visibility of each step of the project for both parties).
4. Reduced Risks
Agile techniques virtually eliminate the chances of absolute project failure. Agile means always having a working product, starting with the very first Sprint, so that no Agile project fails completely. Agile gives freedom when new changes need to be implemented. They can be implemented at very little cost because of the frequency of new increments that are produced. Agile project management does the following:
Develops in Sprints, ensuring a short time between initial project investment and either failing fast or knowing that a product or an approach will work.
Generates revenue early with self-funding projects, allowing organizations to pay for a project with little up-front expense.
Allows for adaptation to the client’s needs and preferences throughout the development process. Agile commonly uses user stories with business-focused acceptance criteria to define product features. By focusing features on the needs of real customers, each feature incrementally delivers value, not just an IT component. This also provides the opportunity to beta test software after each iteration, gaining valuable feedback early in the project and providing the ability to make changes as needed.
5. Faster ROI
The fact that agile development is iterative means that the features are delivered incrementally. Therefore, benefits are realized early while the product is in the development process. Long delivery cycles are often a problem for businesses, particularly those in fast-moving markets. Agile means fast product releases and ability to gauge customer reaction and alter accordingly, keeping you ahead of the competition. In agile project management:
- Development starts early.
- You have a functional ready-to-market product after few iterations.
- There's first mover advantage.
- There's a focus on business value. By allowing the client to determine the priority of features, the team understands what’s most important to the client’s business, and can deliver features in the most valuable order.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the benefits of agile project management. There are obviously others. If you have some that come to mind, you can share them in the comment section! I’ll leave you with those two statistics that shows how agile methodology has provided advantages to projects:
- Time: 37% faster time-to-market than average.
- Efficiency: 16% higher productivity than average.