Succeed on Projects using these Agile Principles

Succeed on Projects using these Agile Principles

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Today’s world demands acting on the fly, moving ahead on projects without all the details known. Agility is the term coined where projects move one step at a time, and thinking only as far as things are known.

With the limited information available, challenging timelines and pressure from various stakeholders, how does a project move ahead without compromising on quality and triple constraints of project management?

I have managed several projects, and most of them are chartered with customer demand only, and without the backing of technology, logic or any other necessary supports. Yet, my projects have always met the objectives. How is it possible?

I manage my projects based on the following three principles which helps me in keeping an eye on the target at all times, and not get carried away with revelation of information before I get started. My principles of agile project management are:

  1. Focus on Project Objectives

  2. Make Assumptions and Educated Guesses

  3. Course Corrections

Focus on Project Objectives

I picked up this principle from my process development experience. When I develop processes, I focus on the process objectives. And, then I start working around the objectives. Likewise in projects, envision the project goal, envision the project output and start reverse engineering on all the activities you need to perform.

This principle has helped me a bunch, whenever I felt like I was losing track of where I stood in terms of the project goals, focusing on the end product helped me direct towards true north. The processes that I have developed have come out optimized and well rounded, thanks to this principle.

Make Assumptions and Educated Guesses

When we start planning our projects, we may not have all the details known. For example, I may not know the logic I am going to use in developing a certain application, I may not be aware of certain legislation laws, or I may be still waiting on business intelligence reports for identifying the timelines or scope.

If I decide to wait on all the missing details, I might lose out on the precious time, and in a time sensitive market, I might miss out on opportunities to make a difference. So, what do I do? I assume. I make educated guesses.

Yes you have to make certain assumptions if you ever dream of completing your project on time. Base your assumptions on logic that makes sense, rather than picking it up out of thin air. If I am not sure on the exact requirements for my project, I add certain basic core requirements on my own, assuming that these are pretty basic, and the project sponsors would most likely ask for it in due time. Make sure that you are able to justify the assumptions you are going to make, and let them have common sense written all over it.

Course Corrections

When ships travel, they start moving from point A to point B. Along the way, depending on the wind and wave patterns, the ship drifts, and the captain has to bring it back to intended direction constantly. This course correction is common with planes as well. Analogously, projects need to do course corrections to stay on the project objectives.

Course corrections are necessary for projects for the following reasons:

  1. Certain assumptions made during planning may turn out to be different when more details are revealed
  2. Project requirements may change during the course of the project
  3. Policies of the organization or the state may change, giving rise to course corrections
  4. Better algorithms and logics can change the course of a project

Primarily, I suggest course corrections for the assumptions and educated guesses that are made during the planning phase of the project. It is often more rewarding to make educated guesses, basing assumptions off of it, and then correcting the course during the project lifecycle rather than not plan for certain aspects of the project, awaiting complete information.

There are a number of different ways one can perform course corrections. I normally list down all the assumptions made, and conduct weekly/fortnightly meetings with all necessary stakeholders and review the assumptions. If any of the assumptions turn out to be different, then I plug in the right set of details, and evaluate the changes that need to be made to the project. Through change control, I make changes to the project plan, WBS and the project constraints – schedule, cost and scope.

 

About the author

Abhinav Kaiser is an author and a management consultant. He has authored Become ITIL Foundation Certified in 7 Days and Workshop in a Box: Communication for IT Professionals. He works as a consulting manager for a top consulting firm. He advises businesses, organizations and enterprises in the areas of DevOps, IT service management and agile project management frameworks. Social Media : Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Google Plus

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