Agile Project Management: The New Software Methodology?

This is my impression of Agile Project Management:

Agile Project Management . . . What is it?

Agile programming breaks down an application development project into smaller modularized pieces.

»      Each piece is addressed one at a time in a very short time frame (called a sprint). This adds to the application and represents a complete part of the functionality.

»      You can deploy the application and expect people to accomplish some amount of work with it, even if the application does not do everything that is intended upon full completion.

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For example, if you were creating a word processor, one iteration might be its spellchecker. The spellchecker adds functionality to the word processor, but it affects only one aspect of the application.

Before the developers create the iteration that handles spelling, users can work with the word processor without that feature in place.  They simply cannot perform a spell-check on what they write.

Reasons to use Agile Project Management

Businesses need a way to reduce development costs, improve software reliability, decrease time to development and ensure applications actually work with the users, rather than against them.  Reducing the number of errors developers make when designing and building applications.

In addition, Agile programming techniques can eliminate that most expensive development cost of all: the failed application.  Source: www.CIO.com : ABC: An Introduction to Agile Programming

Agile Project Management  :  A Scrum Iteration Example

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Scrum (the word “Scrum” comes from a terminology in Rugby) is a management-focused agile methodology that is straightforward and can be used in a wide variety of project environments. The Scrum methodology provides the guidance necessary to direct a project in an environment of high variability and where some departments within the customer may have conflicting or competing interests.  Of all of the Agile methods, SCRUM appears to be the most popular.  The daily communication engages the stakeholders. Scrum requires that the customer not meddle with the team while in sprint and accept that the team may alter sprint goals as required by the difficulty or ease of its tasks. Scrum out-of-the-box is formulated for smaller teams. However, it comes packaged with a scaling strategy, based on a Scrum of Scrums, that is claimed to have been applied to an 800-person project

Product Backlog: team converts the features requested by the customer into a list called the sprint backlog of specific and estimated tasks

Sprint Planning Meeting: The sprint planning meeting is actually two meetings that are timeboxed to four hours each and meant to be completed within the same day. In the first meeting the team assists the customer (called the product owner in Scrum) in selecting the functionality for the upcoming sprint. In the second meeting, the team converts the features requested by the customer into a list called the sprint backlog of specific and estimated tasks

Sprint: Timeboxing is an important feature of the 30-day sprint. This forces tough decisions about functionality and design. The more things different customers request at once, the longer it will take for the project to produce anything of value; meanwhile, there is always a more elegant design solution if the programmers would keep looking. The timeboxed sprint keeps the team from entering into such low-productivity quagmires by forcing the customers to agree on the features the team will produce in the next 30 days and by giving the team a hard deadline to deliver as much of those features as possible.

Daily Scrum: Scrum uses the daily Scrum meeting (short in duration), which facilitates daily communication from the programmers on the project to the otherwise unengaged stakeholders. This meeting ensures that the team communicates frequently, that no one ever wanders far off course, and that customers are made aware of roadblocks in a timely manner.

I hope this was informative in giving you a look at Agile Programming. 

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3 Comments

Filed under General, Program Management

3 responses to “Agile Project Management: The New Software Methodology?

  1. mikeathome

    Hi there, I’m not gonna put myself forward as an Agile expert (although I have been known to talk at length about the subject), but I don’t totally agree with your interpretation of Agile; on the other hand I don’t totally disagree either.
    I tend not to think of Agile as a Project Management methodology, it is more of a systems development philosophy, with Scrum being a methodology based on the Agile philosophy. Having marked myself as a pedant I may as well say that I don’t think an iteration is a mini-project, it’s just a task that builds a solution as quickly as possible, tests it, demonstrates to get feedback and then applies the feedback. I think the most powerful feature of scrum is the cross functional team, where you have development roles that include subject matter experts, designers, programmers and testers working together.
    I think I’d also venture to say that scrum might be getting a bit dated, it’s been around since the nineties and the time might have come for an honorable retirement and closure, rather than endless reiteration.

    Reasons to use Agile – Better, Cheaper and Faster, just tick the two you require.

    Cheers

    Mike the Apostate

  2. gcimmarrusti

    Dear Mike the Apostate,

    I concur with your comments. I guess I did not look at Agile as a philosophy originally, but your explanation makes sense. This is my first foray into Agile based on my research. Thank you for increasing my awareness.

    Greg Cimmarrusti, PMP

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