The payoffs of Agile project management

  • Jim Tisch
  • IT Management
  • Solutions
  • 2021
November 11, 2021

Agile project management: 3 employees discuss a project while posting sticky notes.

The concept of project management isn’t new, but project management is in the spotlight today. Why? Organizations everywhere face enormous pressure to consistently identify, develop, and launch the right solutions, products, or services to address market realities and enable digital transformation.

A key factor to success is using the right delivery methodology and, increasingly, the answer is Agile.

What is Agile?

The Agile method for efficient continuous software delivery was conceived in 2001 as a way to transform software development. The Agile Manifesto states:

  • 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 swiftly became a popular way of delivering software because it enabled teams to start building quickly based on what customers described. The method also supported continuous customer feedback: With each iteration, the solution evolved into something that more closely met customers’ needs until the project could be considered complete.

Agile yields results

Agile has detractors but, over the last 20 years, it has evolved and continually delivered results. Today, Agile is not only used in software development, but its principles are also:

  • Applied across the business outside of IT

  • Embraced by most organizations

  • Recognized by professional project management bodies

There are many different Agile software development methods, but the most popular is Scrum. Scrum is a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining products with an initial emphasis on software development—although it’s been used in other fields, including research, sales, marketing, and advanced technologies.

Scrum uses small-scale Agile teams as the building blocks of success and is designed to grow with organizations.

Applying Agile across the enterprise

There are a number of models to help organizations apply Agile principles beyond software development to the more strategic layers of their business. One of the most popular is the Scaled Agile Framework, or SAFe.

Think of it as a series of processes and workflows that allow Agile principles to be applied for various enterprise operations. Each of those workflows can operate independently, but they also integrate together to form an entire enterprise management approach.

Like Scrum, SAFe uses small-scale Agile teams. And, its modular nature enables organizations to evolve toward the SAFe ideal rather than having to commit to a “big bang” implementation.

Why Agile matters

The pace of business continues to accelerate due to shifting customer demand, emerging technologies, and increasingly global competition. To be successful, organizations like yours need to become more flexible at everything from investment management and organizational planning to project selection and organizational change.

Businesses need to consistently deliver the right solutions to address these challenges. Adopting Agile concepts at enterprise and team levels can make it easier to adapt to changing circumstances and result in better solutions.

Explore Agile project management in more detail in our ebook, Agile at scale 101. You can also subscribe to our Enterprise Agility podcast.

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