Being agile is the key to success for many IT projects today. While it's important to keep things in context and not get carried away, embracing agile methods wherever appropriate can help ensure that software delivery is kept moving.
But how do you ensure you're doing this? With development teams facing constantly changing demands from business units and other stakeholders, it can be easy to fall back into an old-fashioned system where you focus on one requirement at a time. However, doing this will slow down development and make it harder to react to an evolving landscape.
Therefore, here are some tactics you should use to make sure your project management keeps agile in mind at all times:
1. Have a centralized management solution
Having a single location where everyone can see what stage the project is at is essential to keeping processes moving. This task board could be a piece of project management software with a dashboard that shows everyone's assignments, or it could be a giant whiteboard in the office covered in post-it notes - whatever works best for you. But whatever form it takes, users need to clearly see what's taking place, who’s assigned to what, when any deadlines are due and what the next steps will be.
2. Put a clear delivery pipeline in place
A delivery pipeline should set out exactly how a project should make its way through an agile development. For software products, it should include information on what the developers should be doing at every stage, and also highlight steps such as continuous testing, so these activities don’t get overlooked. This should run right through from initial developments, through quality assurance, testing, integration and production, so everyone knows exactly what they should be doing.
3. Have a strong motivator overseeing things
Every good agile development needs someone to act as a facilitator for the team and to ensure efforts are being kept on track. This won’t necessarily be a management role - it's more about anticipating obstacles and acting as a first point of contact for any issues that arise. Essential skills for this role include the ability to motivate people and communicate clearly across multiple teams, mediating in any disputes and identifying what areas need to be prioritized.
4. Frequently review your progress
If you're using strategies like sprints, it's vital you're able to review and analyze what was achieved at the end of each stage. This not only highlights any areas that are lacking for the next sprint, but understanding what worked and what didn't. Learning from mistakes and adapting strategies are the hallmarks of any agile developments, so being able to review your effort with a critical eye is a must.
5. Keep everyone informed
Reviews shouldn't be restricted to set periods. Having a short meeting every morning where each team member outlines where they are and what their next steps will be is hugely useful in keeping projects ticking along. These only need to be 10-15 minutes, but will save much more than that, as it means everyone knows what's going on and won't waste time trying to get answers.
6. Adopt a formal strategy
There are a range of formalized strategies for approaching agile that can be easily applied to many IT projects. Adopting approaches such as Scrum or Kanban will help teams put agile principles into action and give them a clear roadmap to follow throughout the process. These frameworks may follow similar formats, but they’ll each have their own unique features and steps that may be more suited to certain scenarios than others, so it's important you do your due diligence and select the one that's tailored to your IT project.