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Agile Project Management: The Secret to Boosting Your Team’s Productivity

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“Businesses often forget about the culture, and ultimately, they suffer for it because you can’t deliver good service from unhappy employees.”

– Tony Hsieh

Introduction

Agile project management is a widely popular approach that emphasises the crucial qualities of flexibility, collaboration, and adaptability as the key to achieving project success. This methodology’s focus on rapid iterations and continuous feedback enables teams to respond promptly to evolving circumstances and deliver high-quality outcomes. However, while pursuing Agile methodologies, many teams tend to fall into the trap of a rules-based approach that can undermine the very principles that make Agile effective.

In this post, we explore the advantages of Agile project management and highlight the potential hazards of adopting a rigid rules-based approach which often leads to stifled creativity, and innovation, and eventually may even jeopardise the success of your team’s project.

Now that we have a general understanding of what Agile project management entails, let’s dive deeper into its advantages and how they can be leveraged to ensure project success. 

Agile Project Management

What is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management is an iterative approach to project management that focuses on collaboration, flexibility, and continuous improvement. In contrast to traditional project management, which relies on rigid planning and control, agile project management emphasises the importance of responding to change and adapting to new information. This approach is particularly well-suited to projects that require a high degree of creativity, innovation, or rapid development. 

The Benefits of Agile Project Management

There are many benefits to using agile project management in your team. Here are just a few of them:

  • Increased Flexibility: Agile project management allows you to adapt to changing circumstances and requirements. This means you can respond quickly to new information, make adjustments to your project plan, and stay on track even when things don’t go as planned.
  • Better Collaboration: Agile project management encourages collaboration and communication between team members. This leads to better alignment, more efficient workflows, and higher-quality results.
  • Faster Time-to-Market: By breaking your project down into smaller, more manageable pieces, you can release working versions of your product more quickly. By soliciting feedback from both customers and stakeholders at the early stages of product development, you can gain valuable insights that inform better decisions and ultimately lead to a superior final product.
  • Improved Quality: Agile project management allows you to continuously test and refine your product throughout the development process. This means you can catch bugs and other issues early on, resulting in a higher-quality final product.
  • Greater Transparency: Agile project management requires regular check-ins and progress updates, which means everyone on the team is aware of the project’s status at all times. This creates greater transparency and accountability, which can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Real-Life Examples of Agile Project Management in Action

To help illustrate the benefits of agile project management, let’s take a look at two real-life examples:

EXAMPLE 1: An E-Commerce Website Redesign

Say a company wanted to redesign its e-commerce website, improving both the user experience and increasing its sales, it could use agile project management to break the project down into smaller chunks and prioritise the most important features. The team works on each feature in sprints, with regular check-ins and progress updates. By the end of the project, they have a fully redesigned website that has better user engagement and higher sales.

EXAMPLE 2: Software Development

A software development team is tasked with creating a new application. They use agile project management to develop and test the application in small, manageable chunks. Each sprint focuses on a specific feature or set of features, and the team works together to refine and improve the application over time. By the end of the project, they have a high-quality application that meets the needs of their users.

Embracing Change and Flexibility with Agile

Agile project management methodologies place a premium on adaptability and flexibility. Traditional project management approaches often rely on a fixed plan, with rigid structures in place that can be difficult to change mid-stream. With Agile, however, change is not just expected, but welcomed. This approach allows teams to adjust their strategies and processes in real time, responding to new information, challenges, or opportunities. Embracing change and flexibility with Agile can help teams to stay on track, even when the unexpected occurs.

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro

Collaboration and Communication: Key Drivers of Agile Success

One of the key tenets of Agile is collaboration. Rather than siloed teams working independently, Agile teams work together, communicating regularly and openly. This collaboration allows team members to share insights, identify potential roadblocks, and work together to find solutions. Effective communication is essential for successful Agile project management. Teams must communicate regularly, often daily, and be transparent about their progress and challenges. With clear lines of communication, teams can make sure everyone is on the same page and can work towards the project’s shared goals.

The Importance of Iteration and Continuous Improvement in Agile

Agile project management is built on the idea of iteration and continuous improvement. Projects are broken down into smaller chunks or sprints, allowing teams to regularly test and refine their work. Rather than waiting until the end of a project to test a final product, Agile teams are constantly testing and iterating, working to refine and improve their product along the way. This approach allows for faster feedback loops, enabling teams to identify and address potential issues earlier in the process, reducing overall risk and helping to ensure a successful final product.

Caution - Steering Clear of Agile Pitfalls

Increasingly we are seeing Agile corrupted into a strict, rules-based, approach that is far from its intention. The elements of collaboration are regularly replaced by mini-waterfall elements. Too often, we see Agile being used as a tool to hide progress and obfuscate actual understanding of the status of projects. It is important to note, that any method or tool that claims to be the ‘one’ is very suspect.

The problem with this corruption is that it can lead to a lack of innovation, creativity, and experimentation, which are all essential components of Agile Project Management. When teams focus too much on following the rules and adhering to a strict process, they may miss opportunities for improvement and fail to deliver the highest value to stakeholders.

One of the causes of this corruption is a misunderstanding of Agile principles. Some organisations may see Agile as a set of rules to follow rather than a mindset to embrace. Additionally, some leaders may view Agile as a quick fix to their software development problems, failing to recognise that it requires a significant cultural shift and ongoing commitment to be effective.

To avoid this pitfall, it is essential to recognise that Agile is a mindset, not a set of rules, and requires ongoing commitment and cultural change. Organisations must prioritise trust in teams and allow them to self-organise and make decisions. Leaders must also resist the urge to micromanage and instead focus on facilitating collaboration and continuous improvement.

Conclusion

Agile project management is a powerful tool that can help you boost your team’s productivity and improve the quality of your results. By emphasising collaboration, flexibility, and rapid iteration, you can respond quickly to changing circumstances and create high-quality products in less time.

To find out how we can help take your project forward, develop your program or portfolio, contact our friendly team on +61 2 9238 1990.

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Debs Skene

After returning from London in 1999 where Debs gained extensive experience working for Barclays Capital, she decided to continue working within the Banking & Finance industry for the next ten years.

It was during her time at Asgard that Debs first worked alongside Diane Dromgold. Given Debs is results-driven, has incredibly good time management skills; and loves working and managing teams of people whilst maintaining a great ‘sense of fun’ in her every day, it was obvious that a career in Project Management was for her. Being invited to join the RNC team was an honour and privilege and created many opportunities to work alongside very dedicated, highly skilled and successful project managers. Debs has continued to work on many projects within the Banking & Financial Services industry, as well as the Hospitality Industry and local community groups.

Debs moved to Queensland in 2011 with partner Tim and they have two beautiful daughters who are heavily involved in Swimming, Basketball, Nippers and Martial Arts. 

Janelle Panton

Janelle is a versatile professional who believes in a flexible and pragmatic approach to deliver business outcomes and to just get stuff done.

With a background in the Financial Services and Consumer Health Manufacturing sectors, Janelle spent time in a number of customer service and operational delivery roles whilst completing an MBA (Executive), before finding a passion and skill for program management.

Janelle has a commercial and common sense understanding in managing change and business transformation, and has delivered new product, business process improvement, compliance, IT and offshoring programmes. 

Janelle joined RNC in 2014 after working alongside Diane and the team on a large integration programme. The appeal of working with a “Really Nice Company” aligned with her values and clinched the deal.

Janelle has two teenage daughters to keep her grounded and, along with her husband, is a keen spectator of live sport and trying out new and adventurous recipes on her family and friends.

Jonathan Molyneux

Jonathan is a highly experienced Project Manager who has worked in many different countries with a multitude of cultures across both Business and IT departments to deliver value into organisations.

Jonathan started his career as a Graduate Trainee with a Lloyds of London Underwriting firm; this set the tone for the next decade learning the development delivery disciplines across multiple Financial Organisations throughout London.

With a strong tendency towards problem solving and a systematic and methodical approach to challenges it was a logical step into Project Management. Jonathan has delivered on numerous projects across a diverse range of business requirements.

Jonathan joined RNC in 2016, and during this time has worked in industries such Pharmaceutical, Commercial Real Estate and Entertainment delivering on a number of projects utilising methodologies and strong governance regime to ensure delivery of business solutions in line with expectations. 

Angela Edwards

Angela’s career has focused on delivering domestic and international projects ranging in size and complexity for both private sector and government clients.

A native of Bowral in the Southern Highlands, she gained her business and administration diploma in Canberra before embarking on her first overseas working experience in Japan.

In her project management career, Angela has excelled at managing complex environments and competing interests within the pressures and dictates of diverse environments. Her focus is always on the outcome, with. an ability to work out what is needed and make sure all avenues are considered and all risks are covered.

She has lived and worked in the USA, Dublin, London, Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, Jakarta, and Tokyo and is accomplished at building and developing high-performing teams.

In her personal life, Angela is an avid golf fan, a traveller and a keen appreciator of Asian and native American art and collectibles. 

Simon Harwood

Simon has had a unique career path, starting off as a drug development chemist before completing his MBA at MIT Sloan in the US in 2008 and then transitioning in to the business world.

Since 2008, Simon has worked for a range of executive teams in London and Sydney successfully delivering complex business projects and programs all with a change management focus and often where timelines have been extremely tight.

Simon joined RNC in 2018, and has diverse experience working in a range of functions – including marketing, IT, and manufacturing – in the pharmaceutical, consumer healthcare, consumer products, and airline industries.

Simon has a young daughter and is a committed member of his local Christian church where he volunteers his time during the week and at weekends.

Andrew Mencinsky

Andrew has had a varied and diverse career, however one with a continual focus on helping organisations and individuals achieve their objectives.

From university Andrew founded a technology business assisting small to medium businesses implement and effectively use technology, before moving to deliver significant projects for Optus and a leading national commercial interiors organisation.

Andrew completed his MBA (Executive) from the AGSM in 2004, after which he spent time with PWC advising public and private sector clients on improving organisational performance through technology.

Andrew joined RNC in 2009, and during his time at RNC has delivered multiple high visibility and high value projects across multiple industries such as banking, insurance, construction and commercial real estate.

Andrew is the father of three young children and has a strong social conscience, giving generously of his time to support local, national and international Ukrainian schools and youth organisations.

Diane Dromgold

Having chosen project delivery as a career and honed her craft working for the Federal Government, Qantas, Philips, and KPMG, Diane decided to strike out and start a project service that would give clients certainty.

Diane started RNC to address five problems:

  • The increasing market frustration with project failure and consequences
  • The increasing focus on process and procedure over delivering the outcome
  • The disconnect between what people want from projects and what project managers want to do
  • To put the outcome back in projects
  • To put the client back in the driver’s seat

Diane regularly presents at conferences on topics ranging from the basic how-to of running projects, to the latest thinking and approaches in project, program and portfolio management.

Diane has authored one book, contributed to several others and provided the foreword on a leading book on influence for project managers. Many of her presentations have been published in proceedings and other publications.