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Agile Project Management: A Comprehensive Guide

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Agile Project Management 01

Agile Project Management Guide

Organizations want to see the added value of their projects faster and faster. How do you give the project team the necessary freedom to excel without losing all control of the project as a responsible person? Agile Project Management helps you with this, with effective processes and with clear project roles. With Agile Project Management, you have a powerful tool to achieve actionable business results faster. Kanban is a popular framework used to implement agile project management and one we will talk about in this article.

Thankfully there are a plethora of companies out there, such as Leanscape to assist businesses in driving their success forwards. In Agile Project Management with the use of Kanban you can achieve this. Implementing this regime can help boost businesses. With face-to-face consultancy, advice, information and Leanscape can advise businesses on the best way forward. With impeccable training to help them reach optimum success, your business can massively benefit.

What is Agile Project Management?

Under the umbrella term “Agile Project Management”, methods and procedures in project control are summarized. This, in contrast to the classic approach, is flexible and dynamic.

In this context, “agile” means above all less intensity in planning and leadership and requires a high tolerance of the whole team. This involves quality, time, and costs.

In contrast to classic project management, which already defines a final state and a detailed production process at the beginning of the project, (“Monolithic approach”) agile project management works iteratively-incrementally. This means that not all work steps are planned from front to back.

A potentially usable product increment is delivered after a dedicated work phase. Based on an initial vision that allows room for possible deviations, a finished overall product is created in the end. As a result, not only can change requests be implemented much faster. The short planning and implementation phases make deviations easier and error detection faster.

They can be corrected promptly. The success of an agile project stands or falls with the team. The agile organization is characterized above all by self-control, a continuous learning process, and an exploratory process model. Due to the lack of hierarchy, the employees bear a high degree of personal responsibility. They have to demonstrate an entrepreneurial mindset.

How Agile Can Help Companies

How can Agile further assist businesses

Experts from different fields have to work together daily on the project. Agile teams are always interdisciplinary. This means that all the necessary functions for product creation (e.B. specialists, developers, or the process owner) work to develop solutions together. In order for communication between the members to work, a short voting meeting takes place every day. In this way, problems can be identified and eliminated at an early stage. Any project overlaps or a need for support can be identified. Agile project management assumes that the members of the team act independently and creatively. They can bring their skills and abilities to the best possible use.

To do this, they also need a suitable environment that provides them with the appropriate framework. They must be protected from negative influences so that they can concentrate fully on their tasks. An agile team does not need dedicated leadership, but only a product vision, which it then implements on its own.

The agile methods all assume that a consistent rhythm is healthier. It consequently leads to a more productive way of working with better results. In addition, this also creates a higher degree of reliability and reduces the pressure to perform. Work peaks within an agile project. If this is not the case, it is a signal that something is not running smoothly. It may require a more detailed review.

“If you are thinking about Agile as a set of tools and processes, you’re looking for the wrong thing. You can’t go to the store and “buy some Agile management.”
― Stephen Denning, The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done

The guiding principles of Agile

The methods of agile project management are based on a whole series of values, techniques, and principles. These were first developed in February 2001 in the form of the so-called Agile Manifesto. The agile values form the foundation of project management. The agile principles are based on values and represent a kind of principle of action. The agile techniques are concrete instructions and procedures for implementing the principles. There are also five attributes connected:

  • Transparency
  • Customer focus
  • Adaptability
  • Sense of Ownership (Effective Leadership)
  • Continuous Improvement

The agile methods are intended to support the organization of projects based on principles, values, and techniques. The agile method practically forms the framework for management. They can also be adapted to individual needs thanks to its flexibility in every project. In the following list, we have summarized the most important agile methods for business. Almost all of which (except Scrum) are mainly used in software development.

  • Scrum
  • Unified Process
  • AMDD
  • DSDM

One of the most important methods, yet, is Kanban which is a promising solution for many businesses. With the proper training, there are many ways in which you can reap the rewards of using it.

What is Kanban?

Kanban offers lean thinking to companies who wish to fulfill new goals and meet new targets. Kanban is an agile project management method that enables the participants to work in a largely autonomous work organization. It provides various practices for a transparent and efficient transmission of information. Complex processes and projects are divided into several work steps using Kanban and controlled by a very manageable set of rules. In this guide, you will learn how Kanban came about, how agile project management works with the method, and on which basic principles it is based.

So, what is Kanban and how did it come about? Kanban (Japanese for “shield”, “visual sign”) is an agile method that enables evolutionary change management. It was originally developed for manufacturing and production. However, in recent years it has also become increasingly popular in software development and the service sector. The aim was to use efficient and flexible production methods to meet the increased customer expectations. It was important in terms of production speed and delivery readiness while minimizing costs. Yet, the actual production should remain unaffected. Kanban’s approach is based on a pull system, which means that production is geared to customer demand. Unlike the push systems, is not fixed to a specific quantity. This allows losses to be minimized without compromising productivity.

Agile and Kanban

Kanban is a method that was developed a decade ago. It focuses on change through further development and continuous process improvements. The method is based on 6 practices:

  1. Visualizing the work
  2. Limit ongoing work
  3. Workflow Management
  4. Formulating process guidelines
  5. Introduce feedback loops
  6. Improving together

Track incremental, evolutionary changes.

An essential component of Kanban is the change that unfolds evolutionarily from one’s organization and is to be striven for at all levels. Excessively extensive changes are avoided as potential triggers of uncertainty or even fear. Therefore it reduces possible resistance. Based on the current situation, baselines are determined for the effectiveness and performance. This way future changes can be measured. In most cases, larger companies consist of a branched network of various interdependent services. There are three special service delivery principles in Kanban. The focus is, as the name suggests, on customer and service orientation: Focus on the needs and expectations of the customer. Manage the work and let people have the space to organize themselves. Develop policies to improve customer and business outcomes. This is lean thinking that leads to better outcomes.

Consider current roles, processes, and responsibilities

Kanban also incorporates the values of existing processes, responsibilities and titles. It also considers their possible retention. In this way, incremental change is encouraged, but it is not mandatory. By respecting all the people involved and involving them in decision-making, you also reduce resistance to change. All those who do not work with the existing processes can usually not properly assess their advantages and disadvantages.

Teams make results

Promote leadership at all levels of the organization.

The latest of the four principles sees not only the management level but all parties involved in the obligation to strive for continuous improvement. Demonstrable leadership qualities often result from everyday situations. And measures from the everyday practice of those involved. Kanban only works if all employees take responsibility. They must be actively committed to improving processes and procedures within the workplace.

Visualization of the workflow

It must be ensured that all tasks are always in progress and that the workflow is constantly running. For this purpose, the process steps are visible to all participants on the Kanban board and wander through the columns from left to right. Limitation of the amount of work: The WIP (“Work in Progress”) is limited. This means that only a certain amount of tasks may be processed in parallel at one station. This ensures that not too many tasks are started at once and the focus is clearly on the result. Definition of clear rules: The rules of the process must be made explicit. This means that all those involved know the laws and assumptions under which they work. These include, for example, the definition of the status “Done” or the meaning of the individual columns of the Kanban board.

Agile Management and Visual Management

Continuous improvement

All Kanban processes should be subjected to regular analysis. This way businesses can correct typical variables. This way a business can sustainably improve the efficiency of the operation. How project management works with Kanban is based on so-called evolutionary change management. This is where the workflow is continuously improved in small steps. This reduces the risk of the individual measures since many smaller ones are carried out instead of a large change.

Agile and Visual management

The Kanban Board

The central element of project management with Kanban is the Kanban Board. It is primarily used to visualize the workflow as well as the existing process and any problems that may occur therein. This can be either an analog board (e.B. a whiteboard) or software. In many companies, however, both variants are now also combined. Attached to the board are index cards or sticky notes, each of which represents a task. The classic Kanban board is divided into three columns. The cards or tasks, thus, move from left to right in the course of their completion on the board.

Easy to use, once you learn there’s no going back

Kanban can even be used by any team in your company from IT to marketing. Once you are familiar with Kanban and it is implemented, then you can begin to find the process much simpler and reap the rewards in the droves. The main reasons that Kanban is such a great tool to use for businesses are:

  1. Respects current processes and roles
  2. Requires not revolutionary, but evolutionary changes
  3. Recommends that you develop slowly and try to constantly improve
  4. If you want to use Kanban, simply set it up on your current processes and improve step by step.

 

Kanban is a very simple, yet effective method to improve process flows and task management. The visualization makes it easier for the teams to keep track of their work and the goals to be achieved. With the help of the Kanban Board, all participants are informed about the current status of the project.

They can take timely countermeasures in the event of problems or obstacles. The Kanban system follows only a few fixed rules. This also makes it particularly suitable for entering agile project management. At the same time, however, it also places high demands on the self-organization of the individual teams. It allows employees to be incentified, focused, and driven, to find ways around any problem, finding quick and simple solutions.

Leanscape is dedicated to assisting businesses progress. It helps businesses use Kanban to excel their business forward. We can help companies implement Kanban easily and effectively so that you can focus on the benefits that it can bring to your business. Not only does it promote a plethora of benefits, but it also has benefits for growth and new employees with the same working ethos as you. It brings teams together. It provides better management. It promotes growth. It helps you shine with success. The opportunity is yours for the taking so do not fall behind in an ever-changing business landscape.

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