When you work at a fast pace and allow for constant change, agile project management methodology can feel impossible. How can you manage an agile project when you are only looking so far down the road and allow for iterations to change and pivot? We hear this a good amount from individuals who have heard of agile but not worked within Agile yet. The concept of a waterfall brings with it a more peaceful project lifecycle. You can have a clean start, middle and end with a very sequential life. Agile, by contrast has iterations which deliver constantly with rapid requirements, development and testing being done in small windows called sprints. How then can you apply agile project management methodology to this to make it work? Easy.
Now the biggest thing to remember when you do a project is that while you work on deliverables every 2 or 3 weeks within your sprint, these sprints should be breakdowns of a larger end goal. You do need to know what your end state should be and what you do within Agile is break that end state down into smaller chunks of work called Epics which then have specific tasks that need to get done called User Stories. Each sprint ideally contains work that can be independently deployed to production. This means that every 2 or 3 weeks as you finish your work, you are delivering. This approach does not mean what you deliver is available to end users or anyone. Instead it means what you completed, you deployed and you moved on.
We have all been part of a larger waterfall project where something runs long. Requirements can get delayed. Design takes longer than it should. We learn something in development which requires changes all the way back to requirements. These larger projects are famous for not just missing deadlines but blowing them out of the water before they add value to users. Alternatively, with Agile you are constantly delivering some chunk of work. This allows for a much more controlled Project management methodology because you have more control over the scope and adjustments in case one thing runs long, you can adjust the next sprint to make up for it.
As you work on your Agile project management methodology you can identify dependencies across epics or user stories. You can also implement sizing’s of your stories called points. With this approach you start to be able to forecast out schedules for completion.
Tips for Agile Project Management Methodology
- Understand the end deliverable
- Breakdown your end state into many stand-alone smaller chunks that feel could be completed and independently released
- Breakdown those chunks called epics into specific tasks that need to get done called user stories
- Size your user stories and epics to know how many sprints you will need to complete all of the work
- Every two weeks, review the upcoming sprint scope of work. Adjust the scope as needed for any work that was not completed in the previous sprints or if priorities have changed.
One way you can organize all of this work within Agile is with the use of a Kanban board. Using a Kanban board you can quickly define out your user stories, organize them into sprints and track the work from start to finish using a simple workflow of “To do” , “In Progress” and “Done”. Typically teams will meet daily to check on the status of their tasks within a sprint.