Defining Agile Project Management

Defining Agile Project Management

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Agile and Six Sigma have a lot in common.

Six Sigma is a manufacturing methodology. In the 1980s, it was designed to help Motorola improve the quality and output of their processes. Agile, which was formalized in the early 2000s, is a project management philosophy, designed to improve the efficiency of software developers.

These two methodologies were specifically designed for manufacturing and software. Why, then, are they used in so many other industries?

Because they work.

They’re both designed to improve processes and inspire teams to finish projects more efficiently, and like Six Sigma, Agile has developed a significant following over the last decade – a following that spans hundreds of industries and thousands of unique projects. In fact, you’ve probably heard a lot of the terminology:

  • Many businesses these days divide projects into sprints—a period spanning several weeks, in which an Agile development team produces an increment of a completed project.
  • A series of sprints-in-progress come together to fill out a framework called Scrum – a project planning structure that defines (1) what work needs to be completed, (2) what work is currently being completed, and (3) what work has been completed.
  • The Scrum is managed by a Scrum Master – the Scrum Master’s job is to keep the sprints on track by removing any obstacles that might prevent teams from being productive.

What is Agile

You might be unfamiliar with sprints or Scrum, but chances are, you use some type of Agile terminology in your workplace. You might know the terms Kanban, backlog, product owner, stand-up meeting, or some other common Agile phrases during your day-to-day work, because it’s becoming universal. And that’s interesting, because Agile wasn’t originally intended to be used in every industry.

Agile Stand-up Meeting

Stand-ups are daily 5-10 minute meetings where team members give status updates regarding an Agile project.

The phrase “Agile software development” was coined back in 2001. A group of software developers were tired of the inflexible software development processes that ruled the industry in the 1980s and 1990s, and they wanted a process that was designed to bring out the creative and collaborative nature of software development. It worked so well that Agile quickly spread to project management processes across hundreds of other industries.

Prior to Agile, the go-to project management philosophy was called Waterfall, because the project moved forward linearly, in a single direction, like water from a waterfall pouring out over a cliff. Project plans would guide teams from point A, to point B, to point C, and so forth, until a project was presentable, but teams wouldn’t receive any meaningful feedback until the end of the development cycle.

Agile, meanwhile, takes a different approach. It’s much more fluid and flexible, and it focuses on interactions and individuals (instead of processes and tools). Stakeholders are brought in early to offer feedback and keep the team moving in the right direction. Plans can easily change without derailing the entire project. Instead of moving from point A, to point B, to point C, teams develop a project holistically and collaboratively.

Agile is about people over process, and—like Six Sigma back in the 1980s—it has changed the way most industries approach project management.

The post Defining Agile Project Management appeared first on Six Sigma Daily.

By: James LoPresti
Posted: July 6, 2017, 12:04 pm

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