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Every professional services company understands that the art of executing projects is unique and complex. It requires insights for agile responses; it also needs to rapidly keep resources unified, projects on track, and finances optimized.
Today, traditional project management gets highly complex and layered. Project management is defined as the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to projects in order to meet the project requirements. That’s where the flexibility of quick iterations is required, which the agile methodology provides with increased efficiency. Instead of following a steady path, project managers break projects into timeboxed short sprints, which again are divided into a draft, prototype, and final deliverables and made ready for review. Let’s learn more.
What Is Agile Project Management?
Agile project management is an iterative, flexible, and customer-centric approach towards continuous improvement. Due to its iterative steps, teams manage and track a project by breaking it into chunks or sprints. Sprints are short-term work cycles that project managers plan into bite-sized pieces. Grouping these into small chunks helps teams reach the milestones with fewer headaches. This creates shorter feedback loops and makes it easier for everyone to keep their metrics aligned with changing customer and stakeholder mandates.
To put it simply, this transparent and collaborative approach is designed to support dynamic project managers and their teams to become more responsive to feedback and external changes. This allows services businesses to adapt to work quickly and collaboratively with the changing dynamics of project scope and optimize workflow.
The Agile Project Management Methodology
Unlike a straightforward, linear waterfall model, the agile methodology is a way to manage projects by creating short development cycles. Once the method starts, teams cycle through a process of project planning, roadmap, release, and evaluation. Scrum and Kanban are the two most popular agile frameworks. They largely follow the same processes, which may include:
1. Project planning: Teams plan projects and discuss the scope, time, cost management, and stakeholder goals.
2. Roadmap creation: A roadmap can visualize how the process would grow, align clients, and attain budget amid situations where changes may occur frequently and unexpectedly.
3. Release planning: This consists of a high-level summary timeline and can include milestones around short development cycles (or sprints).
4. Sprint planning: Sprint planning is an event in the Scrum framework, where teams determine product backlogs to work and establish sprint goals for individuals or groups.
5. Daily standups: Project managers schedule brief, daily meetings to touch base and get on the same page during a daily standup. Members discuss their previous day’s accomplishments and today’s plan of action.
6. Sprint review and retrospectives: This could be a weekly or biweekly occurrence or may happen at the end of a sprint. The team members and managers discuss the accomplishments of previous and upcoming sprints and what they are working on. In retrospectives, the focus is on how to develop or build.
Why Use Agile Project Management?
Today, worldwide, 71 percent of companies have adopted agile methodology and it has helped 98 percent of companies in managing projects. By collaborating closely with internal and external stakeholders, project managers can manage projects in real time with live resource inputs around effort and completion estimates. They manage the resource pool, its allocation, conduct capacity planning, and get an instant understanding of all critical project metrics, including hours, cost, financials, and other details. By embracing agile project processes, teams expand collaboration, optimize fulfillment, and foster the ability to respond faster and better to stakeholder needs.
Here are some reasons why businesses are leveraging agile management to manage their projects:
1. To Intelligently Plan and Run Projects
Project managers know that bidding is not just labor-intensive but also risky in many aspects. In a way, biddings themselves are projects in their own right. There could be a high degree of uncertainty in terms of timeline and costs. For project managers, gauging confidence in achieving project milestones is another gray area for them. Instead of blindly walking into the bid and negotiations, project managers using the right agile project management tool can use historical information to bid and select customer projects intelligently. They can automatically pull and plan projects from a CRM to have better visibility. They can generate accurate project timelines and resource requirements from previous projects to meet profit metrics. To proactively manage the potential risks, they can set up complex work breakdown structures with accurate costs, margins, and billing information.
2. Staying on Top of the Task Progression Across Projects
Ensuring project managers are always up to date on the status of their projects is one of the crucial aspects of agile project management. With advanced desktop and mobile apps, users are reminded to update status and make entry fast and easy. They also get input from other work execution systems like Jira, Asana, Slack, and more. All these help project managers intervene sooner if projects are going off-track. Project and task managers also get a sense of any project issues or escalation issues in real time. An intelligent professional services automation software can also automatically populate timesheets. It makes completing timesheets easier and more accurate since beats are submitted immediately after work was performed.
3. Keeping a Finger on the Project Pulse
It’s not easy to be completely aware of every facet of a project at all times — what’s being worked on, how much of it is done or still in progress, estimating completion of assigned tasks, etc. A project management software can play the role of a catalyst in such situations. What’s more, project managers can provide instant feedback by approving/editing pending or completed work and estimation submitted by the resources. With an instant understanding of all critical project metrics, including hours, cost, financials, and other details, they can be aware of the current project trends and happenings at the granular level.
4. For Optimized Resource Management
The art of managing diverse resources across multiple projects and geographies needs the next level of agility, competency, and demand planning. Normally, services-based businesses and project managers follow different strategies to manage resource dynamics. When the project resource planning is done based on standard criteria like scope, capacity, assessment, complexity, and project financials, it becomes challenging to manage them like assets.
With the right resource management capabilities, project or resource managers can view global resources to determine their current and future allocation levels. For example, graphical calendars and dynamic charts can spot under- or over-utilized resources with ease. This is where intelligent resource allocation chips in with resource requests, resource criteria, recommendation engines, fulfillment, and project allocation. While a built-in resource recommendation engine brings ideal resources for the job to the top, resource fulfillment with built-in project manager and resource manager collaboration workflows enables project resource optimization.
Project management complexity affects the scope, evaluation, and control of project milestones. With agile project management in place, project managers can bring flexibility and customer-centricity, along with transparency and collaboration.
Do you want to learn more about how agile project management can help your service delivery? Download our ebook.