According to Gartner, project management is defined as the application of skills, knowledge, techniques, and tools to project activities to fulfill the project requirements.
Project management is an important aspect of software engineering processes along with requirement specification, business analysis, design, programming, and lastly, testing. It has become a matter of discussion for many years.
Even now, while project management practices are becoming more mature, only just 53% of the organization are completely aware of the significance of such practices.
Regardless of the industry, project management is a vital element of a company’s productivity and ultimate success. Actually, organizations utilizing tried and tested project management practices waste quite less money and execute projects that are 2.5 times more effective.
Project management experts clearly define that a successful project is something that gets done in a timely manner and within the decided budget, which further brings out the expected benefits.
Phases of Project Management
Irrespective of the scope, any project must follow some actions in sequence to be completely controlled and well-managed. As per the Project Management Institute (PMI), a general project management process involves the following phases:
- performance/monitoring, and
- project close
Utilized as a blueprint to achieve specific tasks, these many phases explain the project management lifecycle really well.
But, this structure is quite general. Generally, a project has some internal stages within every phase. They can differ based on the scope of work, the industry, the team, and the project itself.
In order to get a universal approach to managing any project, humanity has built a great many project management techniques as well as methodologies.
Traditional Project Management Methodologies
On the basis of the above-mentioned traditional framework, classic methodologies require a systematic approach to executing projects rightly. Thus, the project went through the entire process, such as initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure.
Often known as linear, this approach has many internal phases that are consecutive and implemented in chronological order. Applied widely within the manufacturing or construction industry, where small or no changes are needed at each phase, traditional project management has got its application in software engineering too.
The waterfall model has been the most powerful software development methodology since the 1970s. As described by Winston W. Royce:
“There are two steps mainly used for computer program development, irrespective of complexity or size. The first step is analysis, followed by the second step i.e. coding. This kind of easy implementation concept is in fact all that is needed if the effort is small enough. If the end product is operated well by those who developed it – as is generally done with computer programs for internal utilization.”
The Waterfall model has a solid focus on planning as well as specification development, which takes around 40% of the project budget and time. Another general principle of this approach is the stern order of the phrase of the project. A new project stage doesn’t start until the first one is completed.
The methods do well for projects that have a single deliverable and definite deadline. The Waterfall approach needs proper planning, project documentation, and strong control over the process of development. In theory, this should result in on-budget, on-time delivery, low project risks as well as expected final outcomes.
However, when applied to the actual software engineering process, the Waterfall method tends to be slow, costly, and inflexible due to numerous restrictions. In many cases, its inability to adjust the product to the evolving market requirements often results in a huge waste of resources and eventual project failure.
Agile Project Management: An Overview
In comparison to the traditional approach, Agile project management has been termed as an attempt to boost the flexibility and efficiency of software engineering, with around 94% of the organizations performing agile in 2016. It has turned into the industry standard for project management.
Back in 1957, John von Neumann, Bernie Dimsdale, Herb Jacobs, and Gerald Weinberg were utilizing progressive development methods (which are now called Agile), developing software for renowned companies like Motorola and IBM. Though they did not understand how to categorize the approach they were generally practicing, and they understood clearly that it was a bit different from Waterfall in multiple ways.
But, the modern-day agile approach was introduced officially in the year 2002 when a team of 17 software development experts conducted a meeting to discuss other project management methodologies. Getting a clear vision of the lightweight, flexible and team-oriented software development method, they clearly mapped it out in the Agile Software Development Manifesto. Complemented well with the 12 Principles of Agile software, the philosophy has become a universal and effective way of perfectly managing projects.
Agile methodologies follow an iterative approach to software development. Unlike the waterfall model, agile projects have many smaller cycles – sprints. Every one of them is a project in miniature: it includes a backlog and has design, application, testing, and deployment phases within the pre-defined scope of work.
At the end of every sprint, an assuredly shippable product instrument is perfectly delivered. However, with each interaction latest features are included in the product, which leads to gradual project growth. With the features being approved early at the time of development, the possibilities of delivering a potentially failed product are quite lower.
Key Steps of an Agile Project Management
The scope of work may evolve based on the new requirements.
02. Iterative Improvements
There is a regular reassessment of the work completed within a cycle to improve the end product.
03. Work Breakdown
The project has small cycles (In Scrum, they are known as sprints).
04. Cooperation with a client
A customer is properly engaged in the development. He/she can easily accept the team’s suggestions or change the requirements.
05. Worth of Teamwork
The team members work collaboratively and have a strong vision of their duties.
Prioritizing flexibility and fast turnaround, the Agile approach provides the following benefits, as per the existing research:
- Ability to handle constantly changing priorities (88%)
- Improved project visibility because of the planning system (83%)
- Enhanced team productivity through regular task allocation (83%)
Frameworks of Agile Project Management
Agile includes a great variety of techniques and methodologies, sharing similar values and principles. All of them have specific areas of use and different characteristics. The most widely used frameworks are Scrum, Hybrid, Kanban, Bimodal, Lean, and XP. Let’s check out the main features of these many frameworks:
- The complete scope of work is divided into short development cycles, also known as Sprints.
- The duration of every Sprint is from 1-4 weeks.
- The team must follow a proper work plan for every Sprint.
- People who are part of a project play predefined roles.
- Agile and Waterfall work together incredibly.
- Agile software development is performed under Waterfall conditions.
- Development is done on workflow visualization.
- Every work is prioritized.
- There are some time-boxed development cycles.
- The team can modify the work plan at any point in time.
- At work, two models are used – Traditional (Mode 1) & Agile (Mode 2).
- Two different teams are focusing on projects with separate goals.
- The Mode 1 team keeps up the IT system infrastructure.
- The Mode 2 team provides innovative applications.
- Cross-team collaboration is crucial.
- The framework promotes quick software development with the least time, effort, and cost.
- The development cycle is quite short.
- The product delivered faster is being kept improving.
- The team works independently and has many responsibilities.
- Developers can likewise come up with the product’s concept.
- The key focus is on the technical parts of software development.
- XP brings in engineering practices aimed at assisting developers in writing proper code.
- Product development involves stages such as core writing, analyzing, testing, designing, and continual integration of code.
- Clear communication within the team and customer involvement in development are crucial.
Step-By-Step Guide to Implement Agile Project Management
When you have finally decided that the Agile methodology can be a great alternative for your projects and company, you need to clearly know how to effectively implement Agile project management. Though the entire project may vary from one company to another, there are a couple of basic steps to follow:
Step 1: Ensure your stakeholder and manager buy-in
Before applying the new approaches to do projects, discuss with the main players and receive their buy-in by telling them about the advantages of Agile, addressing all their concerns, and so on.
Step 2: Begin with a small project
Since constant progress is the basis of Agile, it’s great to start the methodology implementation with a small project, assess the feedback, and then implement it in different projects within your organization.
Step 3: Excite your team
Agile project success totally depends on the ability of various team members to communicate. It’s good to keep your team excited. After all, one of the key principles of Agile puts people and their interactions above tools and processes.
Step 4: Pick the right framework and just go for it
As you know, there are multiple frameworks to use. All of them have separate requirements as well as focus. It’s crucial to choose an Agile framework that is suitable for your process and just stick to it.
Are you looking for Agile Project Management for your project?
The Agile approach is falsely considered to be one methodology. But, there are a plethora of methodologies and many practices that remain untouched in this research.
Software engineering, being an immensely fast-paced industry, offers more flexibility as well as responsiveness in each part of project development. Agile methodologies ensure providing top-notch products and fostering of modern experiences while keeping the end product in sync with the latest market trends as well as user requirements.