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What is Agile project management?

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Have you ever been involved in a lengthy project at your office that took months of work by many different people, only to find in the end that much of the work, or the entire thing, had to be scrapped? Agile project management is a method of planning long projects in a way that allows for flexibility and tries to prevent a project from winding up in the graveyard because of wrong turns and bad timing. Rather than planning one long marathon to get the project done, Agile breaks it up into a series of short sprints. Once a “sprint” is finished, the next steps of the project can be decided.

“Agile aims to do just enough planning to keep projects on track, but not more,” says Simon Moore, author of “Strategic Project Portfolio Management: Enabling a Productive Organization.” “By keeping planning relatively lightweight and targeted, the organization will spend more of its effort doing the right work, rather than something that seemed a good idea nine months ago but is now less useful.”

Agile has its roots in software development, but its ideas can be used in many types of businesses. It’s especially helpful for projects that could experience frequent changes throughout the process or when the end requirements are subject to change. Agile usually calls for short daily or weekly meetings for everyone involved to briefly discuss what they did the day or week before and what they will do next.

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development was created by a group of developers in 2001. The manifesto states that Agile values:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

Agile lets team members engage on a daily basis, values their input over strict processes and allows for improvement between major milestones, says Bret Williams, CEO of Novusweb, an e-commerce coaching and development company. The primary goal of Agile is to consistently complete deliverable work, he says.

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