In the past decade, project management has been undergoing a major transformation as it is applied to information system design. When you consider that traditional project management methodology originated from the body of knowledge of an entirely different domain (engineering, mainly of the industrial and civil kind), it is not surprising that project management in the information systems arena has evolved.
When we consider traditional project management and software development approaches, several disadvantages are immediately evident. For one, the huge effort required during the planning phase of a traditional project is often so all-encompassing that half (or more) of the resources for the project are expended before any development work even beings. Furthermore, requirements deﬁnitions are often so labor intensive and protracted that the requirements for the project have changed before development even begins.
From this context, agile project management developed.
Overview of agile project management.
Agile project management is an outgrowth of the agile software development movement. While the origins of agile project management can be traced back to ideas from a paper by Takeuchi and Nonaka in the January 1986 issue of the Harvard Business Review, it was not until Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber discussed the ﬁrst agile method for software development at the 1995 OOPSLA conference that the idea of gained traction. While analyzing common software development processes, they found that traditional development approaches were not suitable for empirical, unpredictable and non-repeatable processes.
Today, there are several different approaches to implementing agile methods but underlying all of the various agile movements are some basic concepts that turn traditional methodologies on their head. The “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” stated four core principles:
(1) Individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
(2) Working software over comprehensive documentation.
(3) Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
(4) Responding to change over following a plan.
Agile project management is deeply rooted in these principles but slightly modiﬁed to make sense in the project management, rather than software development, environment. This can be seen in some of the qualities of the agile project management approach. For example, agile project management emphasizes two important concepts. The ﬁrst is that risk is minimized by focusing on short iterations of clearly deﬁned deliverables. The second is that direct communication with partners in the development process is emphasized in lieu of creating copious project documentation. The reasons these two concepts are emphasized is simple: both help a project team adapt quickly to the unpredictable and rapidly changing requirements most development projects are carried out in.
What are agile methods
Just as there are many types of projects, there are several different takes on how to best apply agile methods. Some of the most important include: Scrum, extreme project management, adaptive project management, and dynamic project management method. Of these, the general model of Scrum is most often used. In terms of agile project management, a Scrum is simply an agile, lightweight process for managing and controlling software and product development in rapidly changing environments. Like a Scrum in rugby, it shares many of the same characteristics. For example, agile project management Scrums are intentionally iterative, incremental processes that are predicated on a team-based approach. Given that systems today are usually development in ﬂuid and rapidly changing environments, one of the major reasons for using an iterative process is to help control the chaos that can result from conﬂicting interests and needs within the project team. Additionally, iterative processes are used to help enable improvement in communication, maximize cooperation, as well as protect the team from disruptions and impediments. Overall then, the goal is to deliver a more suitable product more quickly than with traditional methods.