University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee School of Continuing Education
Project Management Monthly: April 2013: Tips and Tricks

Agile Project Management
Agile project management techniques were originally developed in the early 21st century to support software development projects. Agile projects engage small, dedicated teams that produce working, usable project deliverables incrementally as opposed to ‘waterfall’ methodologies where all requirements and design are specified up–front before project work begins. Over time, agile project management methodologies have also been successfully used on non–IT projects such as content development and research and development projects in various industries such as manufacturing and product development.

While agile projects are managed differently than waterfall projects, the two methodologies are complementary within organizations. Agile techniques work best on small, focused, single–stakeholder projects where incremental delivery of results (and changes based on feedback from the iterations) provide immediate value for organizations. Incremental delivery also allows for changes to be made to work products by project teams efficiently.

Agile project management techniques are not ‘perfect’ in the sense that they cannot or should not be used on certain projects – such as those subject to heavy regulatory scrutiny as in the case of medical device or pharmaceutical development projects. Agile projects also assume that the project team and stakeholder are completely (or nearly so) engaged in the project with little or no responsibilities for other tasks and projects within their organizations.

The Agile Manifesto, which originated in 2001, specifies the 12 principles of agile project management:

  1. Satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from every couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  6. Convey information to and within a development team through face-to-face conversation as it is the most efficient and effective method.
  7. Measure progress by assessing working software.
  8. Promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Pay continuous attention to technical excellence and good design.
  10. Strive for simplicity by maximizing the amount of work not done.
  11. Promote self-organizing teams to create the best architectures, requirements, and designs.
  12. At regular intervals, reflect on how to become more effective, then tune and adjust behavior accordingly.
Learn more about Agile Project Management – including when, why and how to use it – during an in-depth, two-day course this November at the UWM School of Continuing Education.


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