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Agile Project Management: What It Means and How to Use It
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Project managers have always understood the fine points of agile project management. Agile project management is defined as a form of managing projects in the most effective, timely and productive manner.

Project managers record each leg of their agile project management plans so they can quickly address potential problems. This is a major benefit of using agile project management methods.

What Is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management is similar to the way choreographers create dance routines. Each dance step fits together neatly and in time to the music. So too is the “choreography” of agile project management. Each segment of the project must fit together smoothly and neatly in accurate scheduling of each phase of work to be performed. This is the essence of a finely tuned agile project management plan.

How Agile Project Management Is Used

To create a significantly seamless plan for managing projects, projects are designed in timelines and workflow charts according to project phases. For example, a sales campaign that entails a special set of public relations and promotional events requires this type of project to be planned in phases. Phase I might be the overview of the PR and promotion events that require advance scheduling. The phase II of the project may be the implementation of various PR and promotional events. Third Phase is usually like an encore phase in which project results are reviewed and evaluated for future use and implementation.

The number of phases within agile project management plans depends on the type of work to be performed. In engineering, there are usually four phases to project management plans. The plans begin with the opening phase or Phase I. In Phase 1, the engineering group provides a work proposal outlining work that engineers will perform. It will also outline the customer’s responsibilities for extraneous provisions required to complete the work.

After the Approval

After the customer approves the work proposal, an estimator begins the process of “pricing” labor, equipment (if applicable) and time involved to complete the project.

In agile project management, all of the equipment needed is ordered and delivery and shipment schedules added to workflow charts. In projects that do not require equipment, this phase may include acquiring proper permitting and other types of authorization related to performing work for customers.

For example, in civil engineering projects, certain areas of surveying require prior authorization from state or federal agencies. In chemical engineering, the first phase includes research of new formulations, the second phase development and last phase is the actual production of the formulation. All of the work performed in the initial phase of agile project management adheres to the pre-specified timeline.

drawing of laptop charts

Time Management

Time management is an essential part of agile project management. By designing an accurate timeline for each work phase, project managers have ready access to the daily status of projects. For project managers who regularly manage multiple projects, agile project management helps maintain constant vigilance over details of each project.

In large companies where multiple projects are standard procedure, each project group is aided by the knowledge that each segment of their individual project will result in smooth implementation. This is especially important when multiple projects are part of a single larger project. Teams remain focused on their particular project work to completion phase and also interface with other teams with interconnected projects on an “as needed basis.”

The best example of this is an incorporation of several areas of production facilities. Such plans require massive planning to effect the desired result of linking several production areas like R&D, assembly, QA/QC and shipping and receiving.

In warehousing, agile project management is crucial to keeping goods stored in inventory for shipping and receiving from being misdirected to customers. In this instance, warehousing managers rely on agile project management to ensure goods received are properly packaged and prepared for shipment and stored in logically arranged order for expedient accessibility at the time of shipment.

How to Use Agile Project Management

The first step to use agile project management is to outline the most important points in a project. Determine if the project is short term or is of longer duration. It is important to know the expected duration of a project in order to create an accurate timeline and workflow scheduling.

Next, delineate the expected phases the project requires. Leave sufficient wiggle room for unexpected changes and delays. Remember, the larger the project, the more likely certain changes and delays will occur. Cover all bases in each phase by ensuring each project member maintains a checklist of their particular duties. This can be done in spreadsheets that can be shared in networked computer files between all members of the project.

Once the first phase of the project begins, it is important to “stage” all of the project components. For example, in engineering projects, staging equipment in a specific location allows field technicians quick access to parts of projects they need on a daily basis to complete their work. Each component should be properly labeled and dated. This is especially important in chemical production projects where a product may have a short shelf life.

Staging centers are also found in warehousing so goods for immediate shipment are located quickly by pickers and packers. In smaller businesses, it is also a good idea to keep a staging center for special projects. The staging center for hi-tech projects can be located in computer files accessible through the office network.

Full and Final Satisfaction

In business terminology, agile project management should result in full and final satisfaction by customers and business management. In agile project management, full and final satisfaction is an indication of the accuracy of research, development, planning, timing and implementation.

Agile Project Management


Projects need not be overwhelming to project managers or project teams when all of the difficulties are ironed out and the basic premise of projects rely on agile project management. The best benefit of agile project management is that it keeps projects within budget and results in the expected profit gains.

Agile project management can be used for most types of business and organizational projects. It is especially beneficial for non-profit organizations that rely heavily on external sources of revenue.

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