Why should my organization adopt Agile project management methods?

Many benefits have been documented by companies that have either replaced or integrated Agile methods within their existing project management methodologies:

  1. More effectively manage changing priorities. Traditional project management approaches typically focus on collecting requirements at project start up and then use these requirements as inputs to a lengthy development, test, and release cycle. In the end, when product is to be released to the user community, it is quite possible that significant change has taken place in the market to render the original requirements obsolete, or the functionality missed the target on meeting user expectations and needs. With Agile, you maintain a prioritized product backlog of requirements that is ranked in importance by the Product Owner with input from stakeholders (user community) that is relevant and current. As priorities change, the ability to manage these changes becomes easier. Planning becomes ‘continuous and iterative’ with each Sprint offering an opportunity to revisit priorities based on customer feedback.
  2. Improved project visibility. Agile provides real-time information regarding project status and health to all involved – the project team, the Product Owner, Executive Leadership, and all other major stakeholders. There is no lag time associated with the typical formal weekly, monthly, or quarterly status updates. Instead, status information is provided via Sprint Burndown charts that are updated daily, and tracked against the planned functionality for a given Sprint iteration. The use of Sprint Velocity as a metric also provides the ability to more accurately forecast when certain features will be delivered. The use of Agile tools that incorporate story boards and task boards, coupled with the ‘Daily Scrum’ meeting, give the project execution team continuous feedback in order to adjust to new and changing information.
  3. Increased team productivity. In Agile, a Product Owner is designated and given the responsibility to own and execute the vision and objectives of the project. The product owner can also be thought of as the team member who speaks as the voice of the customer, representing the needs and desires of the stakeholder community. As such, the product owner communicates the vision and value-based decisions to the team on a regular cadence during the Sprint Planning Meeting. This makes it very clear to a team practicing Agile that what they are producing in every sprint cycle is always of the highest value and of the highest priority. The Agile team is also protected from outside interference to eliminate distractions and multi-tasking, so they can remain focused on completing delivery of the current Sprint Plan. Lastly, Agile retrospectives provide the opportunity for continuous improvement of the Sprint process, further improving team performance.