What are the advantages of using an agile methodology?
This project management method is increasingly used by companies for software development, and sometimes for other types of projects.
If the words Scrum, Lean, Sprint, Kanban board or product owner are as vague as Chinese characters to you, rest assured. After reading this article, you will know what an agile methodology is and why you should use one.
Here are 5 reasons why you need to use an agile methodology, and some of the best tools to get you started.
Before reviewing the advantages of an agile methodology, it is essential to review how this method works.
An agile methodology is a project management practice that promotes a collaborative, iterative and incremental approach to project management.
It is said to be agile because it takes into account both your initial needs and those generated by future changes.
This new approach to project management was initially designed for software development testing and emerged at a time when the failure rate of IT projects was particularly high. During that time, popular linear and predictive cascade-like methodologies, such as the Waterfall method or the V-cycle, left no room for contingencies and change.
In result, teams found themselves confronted with the tunnel effect. They realized too late that there were problems or that the product does not (or no longer) meet expectations. This often goes hand in hand with late delivery or an overspent budget.
In agile development, an iterative approach or continuous improvement is used. This means repeating a process until the desired result is achieved.
The idea is to develop a first functional version of a product component. This version is not meant to be perfect, but to be usable by users in order to be tested in real conditions and then improved. This is how you can identify bugs or unmet needs as soon as possible, and rectify the situation.
On the other hand, an incremental approach induces product development piece by piece. Cascade methods divide the project horizontally, i.e. site by site. In agile, the vertical incremental approach aims to successively build functional elements.
The image below illustrates the concepts of iteration and incremental :
If we take the manufacturing process of a car as an example:
© Henrik Kniberg
When using an agile methodology, teams can breakdown projects into sprints and collaborate with one another to provide high-quality results.
This method allows teams to deal with common project pitfalls such as managing costs, scope creep and not respecting deadlines.
Moreover, there is a testing phase for every task which allows teams to identify and solve issues quickly to avoid any long-term negative consequences.
The second benefit of using agile is its speed and flexibility thanks to a Scrum framework.
This practice places change at the heart of its development. If there is a deviation from the initial objectives, the approach and processes are immediately adapted to meet the new needs.
The Scrum method was originally designed for software development teams and their technical projects. However, today, it can be used for a wide range of projects, especially in marketing.
Scrum is one of the most used agile methods because it can be set up very quickly. Furthermore, it is based on an empirical approach, which allows the method to be make room for changes as your project grows.
Another advantage of using an agile approach is the transparency of each project thanks to frequent exchanges with clients. This allows them to feel more involved and ask for changes throughout the project.
Moreover, the teams that are involved can show their progress to the client along with the obstacles that they have encountered.
This establishes a relationship of trust and collaboration between the team and the client and can lead to improved customer satisfaction.
A key part of using an agile method is the involvement of stakeholders when completing projects.
By collaborating with different stakeholders during each phase of the project, you will build on the trust and confidence of each team member and forge stronger relationships within your teams.
To use this method effectively, it is recommended to have stakeholders participate actively as the project progresses. This will allow them to make make sure that tasks are being completed according to the plan and make changes if necessary.
An agile method can also be used to improve cost control. After each stage, the team reviews the budget when making future decisions. Then, they decide if they will continue, suspend or cancel tasks or even the project itself.
This is an essential part of project management as it allows teams to understand the costs of each feature, which will then be taken into account when making strategic decisions.
Although there are many advantages to using an agile methodology, there are also a few disadvantages that you should consider before using one:
Now that you are ready to implement the agile methodology in your team, we recommend using the right tools to help you set up this method with ease and manage the progress of your team members.
Zoho Projects is an online project management software designed to help teams plan work efficiently with visual tools and collaborative features.
This solution can be used in an agile approach to visualise task progress with Gantt charts and work distribution with the resource utilization chart.
Moreover, its collaborative features such as feeds, forums, online discussions, documents, and pages make project management easy.
Since an agile approach involves multiple stakeholders, it is essential to provide them with the right tools to facilitate collaboration. With LastPass, you can offer a password-free experience to all of your employees, even if they are offline.
Team members will no longer have to ask for passwords and wait on colleagues, and they can begin using all of their online tools instantly.
From protecting passwords to managing employee permissions, LastPass helps businesses of all sizes remove password obstacles and fix dangerous password behaviors.
The main challenge when using agile project management is to deliver value as early as possible. The goal is to meet customers needs’ in an environment that tends to become more complex (competition, the uncertainty of market developments, etc.).
By using this method, you will be able to build and deliver a product with high added value, while adapting to changes.
However, you must implement principles and values that will serve as a guideline along with dedicated software that makes collaboration easier.
The last step is to train your employees and make agility part of your corporate culture.