As the Agile Project Management approach becomes more mainstream, organizations considering its implementation are deluged with questions. Is agile project management right for us? Does our current structure support this change? How will we measure progress? Though replacing traditional project management methods may seem like a leap, taking an agile approach can actually increase productivity, improve accountability and speed delivery across all team members. But simply designating an Agile Project Manager (PM) is not enough. The entire organization must support, engage and embrace new methods and metrics in order to reap the benefits.
If You Want to Go Agile, Your Organization Has to Be Agile
One of the key strengths of traditional project management practices is that they provide a robust, time-tested toolkit of metrics and reporting techniques that grant immediate visibility into the timelined progress of a project. Because each assignment is divided into a series of granular, linear tasks it’s easy to track development. With the agile project management approach however, the emphasis is more focused on achievement of the mission than a master checklist of tasks. Agile PMs are dedicated to upholding the project vision, while empowering team members to fulfill responsibilities through collaboration and self-direction.
Often many staffers are working simultaneously on different aspects of a project to meet a common end goal, which means their accomplishments may not translate easily into traditional charts and checkboxes. However, there are plenty of effective agile tools and metrics to measure and report progress—if your agile PMs are strong enough to mentor teams and clients through the process and your organization can be flexible and open to new methodologies.
Re-thinking Project Metrics
The agile PM is responsible for understanding the progress the team is making and for reporting the pace and movement to key stakeholders. The tools utilized are designed to give a range of project tracking depths—from top-level, at-a-glance representations like iteration status and burn-down charts, to more detailed, issue-specific examinations during daily stand-up meetings. In either case, all efforts are extremely concentrated and efficient in order to maintain momentum and remove any barriers or obstacles.
Staunchly traditional organizations may be fearful that agile project management is more chaotic and less detail-oriented. But agile methods can actually free the PM from over-planning and minutia to shift more attention to fulfilling the project vision itself. Agile PMs are not so much task masters and controllers of each and every developmental step in the process as they are the keepers of momentum, motivation and empowerment. With support of senior management, organizations and clients that adapt to and support agile metrics can receive the same high quality of reporting with perhaps even more satisfying emphasis on the main objectives.