To say the words ‘Agile Project Management’ in front of Agile purists falls somewhere in the spectrum between ‘not cricket’ and ‘blasphemy’.
Because Agile doesn’t in any way focus on Project Management, in the traditional sense of the words, at all. It is the complete Antithesis of traditional Waterfall-style Project Management in that Agile values people over processes and product/service over the project.
They do, however, have one thing in common and that is to make a vision, idea, product and/or service manifest. To make it real. They simply differ on the ‘why?’ and the ‘how?’.
And so, just this one time, I have the green light to write about Agile Project Management without fear of being locked away in a small room with a recording of the Agile Values, Agile Manifesto, and Scrum Values playing on repeat to cure me of my heresy.
What is Agile Project Management?
First and foremost, Agile is a mindset. A ‘culture’ if you like.
A high-performance culture that celebrates creativity, collaboration, and producing the most valuable product and/or service for customers, fuelled by a mission and clarity of purpose that is valued by people who value people.
The Agile Manifesto was conceived and written in February 2001 by seventeen (17) independently-minded and brilliant software engineers.
Its aim was to transform how software was built, and replace the traditional waterfall style of project management with a framework steeped in values and principles rather than step-by-step instructions that couldn’t account for complexity and adaptive variables.
Waterfall vs Agile Project Management
People are at the heart of Agile Project Management. Process is at the heart of Waterfall.
From delighting customers, to creating frameworks in which teams can thrive through creative interactions and meaningful contributions to deliver the highest quality work, Agile Project Management enables progression, innovation, and continuous improvement.
|Traditional Project Management||Agile Project Management|
|Guess the future upfront, define it, scope it, estimate it, procure it, staff it, present a business case for something unknown||Start with Why? Iterate through the ‘How’, focus on the highest value product/service you can deliver right now.|
|Months to years before a customer holds or experiences a product for the first time||Rapid prototyping to get customer feedback and inform product development immediately|
|Focuses on the project and processes||Focuses on the product and the customer|
|Focuses on time and cost (actual vs projected)||Focuses on the highest quality / value product|
|Know the unknowable answers upfront||Start with what you know, iterate from there|
|A single big bet on a product and/or service with feedback after launch||Lots of small, manageable bets with rapid feedback during build and launch cycles|
|Management team, and project manager that instruct individuals and development teams what to do, how to do it, when to do it||Collaborative effort with ‘why’ at the forefront of team’s mind, and self-organising, cross-functional teams producing the work|
Visit our Agile section for more information on achieving Business Agility with Agile Frameworks. Visit our Scrum section for more information on how Scrum enables hyper-productive teams.
Agile Project Management Methodologies
Whilst Agile is the name that has gained the most traction in the past 18 years, the name originally assigned to the concept was ‘Lightweight Development Methods’.
The name conjures up a group of people who craved the freedom to build great software unencumbered by the mountains of documentation, bureaucracy, and dogma that impeded rapid prototyping and deployment of products to those who’s opinion mattered most.
Agile is to product/service development in the 21st Century what Lean Project Management was to manufacturing in the 20th Century.
A business philosophy supported by frameworks that leverage focus, collaboration, and creativity to produce tangible, measurable, and valuable outcomes in very short periods of time.
Whilst software engineering and development is the incubator for Agile, over the past 18 years, it has been adopted and deployed in some of the most progressive, complex organisations on Earth in a variety of applications that don’t include software engineering.
There are a number of frameworks under the Agile umbrella, some in hyper-specialised niches and others with a broad application but little traction, yet they all share the following characteristics;
- Test-driven development
- Behaviour-driven development
- Continuous integration
- Self-organising teams
- Prioritise face-to-face communication
- Customer focused
- Emergent design oriented
- Pair programming
- Automated testing
Some of the most popular Agile Frameworks
- LeSS (Large Scale Scrum)
- XP (Extreme Programming)
- Feature Driven Development
Read ‘What is Project Management?’ article for more insights into different Project Management methodologies.
Agile Project Management Certification
As with all complex and adaptive environments, there’s always an anomaly that needs addressing and this sub-heading is one of them. Remember how I said earlier that the phrase Agile Project Management is frowned upon amongst the Agile purists?
Well, in addition to the Agile certification programmes and paths we’ll list below, there is actually something called an Agile Project Management Certification, ahem, and so it is a real course with a real certification attached to it.
It’s an entry-level course designed by the Agile Business Consortium and you can find out more about it on the Agile Business Consortium website.
Now that we’ve addressed the elephant in the room, let’s get straight into it;
The Agile Certified Leader certification by Scrum Alliance is one of the most respected leadership credentials in the Agile space.
A 2-day intensive course that aims to inform, educate, and empower both current and future business leaders in the art of creating, nurturing, and leading an Agile organisation.
Visit our Certified Agile Leadership Page for more information.
The Scrum Master Certification by Scrum Alliance is a premiere skill set and credential in Scrum and Agile environments. Ranked 3rd most valuable project management certification by CIO magazine, the Certified Scrum Master course is the perfect launchpad for your Scrum career.