5 Benefits of Agile

It’s considered the best methodology for web 2.0 tools like Twitter and Facebook. You guessed it; we’re talking about the agile methodology (aka agile mantra, agile development lifecycle etc.). Industry veterans say that it’s the best suited methodology for running ‘fast and efficient’ projects. Is it true? Or is it more hype than reality? Does it break the rules of conventional software development? Does it compromise on quality for speed? Is it just another project management fad? Many people wonder who really benefits from agile and how. In this article, I walk you through the two most important aspects of Agile – the beneficiaries of Agile and how Agile benefits them.

Who Benefits from Agile?

Each development methodology suffers from one limitation or the other. On one hand, there are methodologies like Pair Programming which makes life simpler for developers but on the other hand, it makes it difficult to justify the cost from a managerial perspective. On the other hand, there are other methodologies like the conventional Spiral model which are customer friendly but rather unforgiving for development and QA teams.

The best thing about Agile is that it preserves the interests of all stakeholders in a project, be it the client, project manager, development team or testing team. Agile promotes transparency and visibility, both of which are crucial aspects for the success of any project.

  • Customers benefit from Agile as it ensures high customer satisfaction courtesy frequent releases.
  • Managers benefit from Agile as it makes life easier for them. No overheads, minimal documentation, no useless meetings and clear & crisp communication with all stakeholders.
  • Development team benefits from Agile as it shortens the learning curve and development time for iterations.
  • Testing team benefits from Agile as they get ‘Early Access’ to the software to test.
  • All stakeholders have a better visibility of the project and ‘right expectations’ from each other.

How they Benefit from Agile?

Agile is proven to work well for all sizes of organizations, be it few employees to large technology giants employing a workforce of more than 100,000 people. So, how do individuals and organizations benefit from Agile?

1. Faster ROI

The trick to achieving faster ROI is simple. Build a functional product across iterations, get it out to market early with limited features, continue adding features and then launch the fully functional version. Agile is the perfect methodology to gain the ‘first mover’ advantage.

  • Development starts early
  • A functional ‘ready to market’ product after few iterations
  • First Mover Advantage

2. Lower Risk

Agile ranks very highly on risk mitigation scale. Since iterations are short, the market risk is reduced. A beta version released early in an agile project is a great way to tap the potential market for a product. Feedback from prospect customers can help evolve the product and lowers risk of the product failing to match client expectations. Agile even recommends early cancellations for projects which have high chances of failure.

  • Client gets early access to product during the life cycle
  • Greater flexibility for accommodating Change Requests
  • Early Cancellations hurt less

3. Lower Defect Density

Since the testing is frequent and starts early in the project, most bugs are caught during the test iterations. Agile’s ‘test driven development’ approach ensures a high quality product with minimal bugs. There’s no better way to measure a project’s progress than having a working version at the end of all iterations.

  • Showstopper/ Critical bugs are caught early in the project
  • Stories are considered incomplete till they have critical zero defects
  • Test Automation nets higher productivity for testing team

4. More Transparency & Better Visibility

Agile manta promotes greater transparency amongst stakeholders in the interest of the project. Each stakeholder has a better visibility even when the product is shaping up. Agile preserves mutual interests of the stakeholders from a project perspective rather than catering to individual interests.

  • Agile imparts better visibility and a greater sense of ownership to all stakeholders
  • Encourages Close coordination and build mutual trust amongst stakeholders
  • Brings all stakeholders on the ‘same page’ in terms of project progress and expectations

5. No Frills Approach

The best part about Agile is that it’s a completely ‘No Frills’ approach to software development. There are no useless daily meetings, no irrelevant documentation and fewer paper artifacts. Agile teams self organize themselves so that information is timely communicated to all stakeholders.

  • Higher Productivity for all stakeholders
  • Face to Face Communication works much better than lengthy documents
  • If it doesn’t add any value, don’t do it!

Comparison with Other Methodologies

Critics love to point out how Agile is an ‘undisciplined’ methodology as compared to conventional methods like Waterfall Model. However, the truth is that Agile is a highly disciplined approach sans the overheads of conventional methodologies.

Agile often draws comparisons with the Waterfall model, which works in a highly structured ‘stage wise’ manner. Waterfall model is a nightmare from a project maintenance perspective if the requirements are ambiguous or misinterpreted and require changes during the course of the project. In comparison, Agile is far more accommodating to Change Requests at any time during the project.

Agile is often confused with another lesser known methodology called ‘Cowboy Coding’. As the name suggests, Cowboy Coding promotes a ‘Do it your way’ approach for all stakeholders in a project. There’ no accountability and little control over the project. In contrast, Agile promotes a sense of accountability in all stakeholders and ensures that the project is closely monitored and controlled through out the lifecycle.

Wrap Up

Like other mantras, Agile has its fair share of fan following as well as critics. Managing geographically diverse cross cultural teams is considered one of the biggest challenges for agile methodology. Many old school managers criticize Agile for doing away with too much to provide little value.

Project Management does not follow the ‘one size fits all’ rule so it would be inappropriate to believe that agile methodology is the perfect solution for all projects.  The key is to understand the real benefits of Agile and how it can benefit you and your organization.

Importance of Project Portfolio Management Noted as Top 10 Project Management Trends in 2014

Project Management trend predictions for 2014 continue to roll in and one notable prediction is the emphasis on Project Portfolio Management (PPM). ESI International recently released an article on their Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2014, and they predict PPM will take center stage due to the new Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® new Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)SM credential.

In addition to the importance of the new credential, they believe PPM will be increasingly significant because many organizations are still tight on spending despite large cash reserves and that there are far more projects than people to work on them. Portfolio management will play an increasingly important role in helping to select the most strategic projects with the highest return on investment (ROI). This is a key shift in recent years as more enterprises grow beyond simple project management tools, spreadsheets and home-grown systems to top-down systems that enable executives in IT, New Product Development, Process Excellence, and PMOs (project management offices) to improve portfolio-level visibility and insight. The end result is improved business decision making and agility that includes a holistic approach to cost optimization across the entire organization.

Other notable trends included the expansion of Agile methodology and shifts in education and leadership for Project Managers.

EPM Live provides many project portfolio management features that allow organizations to find the right balance of “keep the lights on” activities and strategic opportunities to bring the most value to your organization. EPM Live also offers cutting-edge features like Social Project Management and Collaboration as well as a complete App Marketplace. Learn more about EPM Live and how we can help revolutionize your business.

Easily Support your PPM Methodology of Choice with Flexible Project Software

Selecting the Right PPM Management Approach 

EPM Live project software makes selecting a work management approach easy. A key distinction between Agile and the more traditional waterfall approach to project management is all about flexibility. So which is better – the Agile or Waterfall methodologies?  Both are very different approaches used to achieve a product in the end. Really understanding how your organization and management team functions is the key to implementing project and work methodologies within the business. Whether you are using the traditional waterfall method of project management or the agile method, EPM Live makes using one method or a combination of project management methods possible. If your organization is using or considering using Agile, EPM Live project software offers a simple yet powerful solution.

What is the waterfall method? The traditional way to build software is a life cycle commonly known as “the waterfall.” It typically begins with a detailed planning phase, where the end product is thought through, designed, and documented in detail. Once stakeholders approve the plan, the team starts to work. Once the work is completed, testing is done, modifications are made, and then the customer gets the end result. Throughout the change-resistant process, deviations from the original plan are not easily allowed.

Conversely, Agile is a philosophy which emphasizes building software that people can get their hands on quickly. Agile describes a set of principles for building software through iterative development. The Agile development method is an approach that considers learning, improving, and changing during the process of the product development. Agile development focuses on rapid iteration, with continuous customer input along the way. The most popular agile method is Scrum.  Scrum structures development in cycles of work called Iterations and Sprints. These iterations take place one after the other without pause. The Sprints end on a specific date and are never extended. The team commits to complete the items by the end of the Sprint. Every day the team gathers briefly to inspect its progress, and adjust the next steps needed to complete the work remaining. At the end of the Sprint, the team reviews the Sprint with stakeholders, and demonstrates what has been built – a finished product – meaning the software code is integrated, has been tested, and is ready to ship.

Integration of portfolio management, project management, and Agile management is possible in EPM Live. EPM Live project software offers single and bundled apps to facilitate project portfolio management, work management, and Agile management. By integrating EPM Live’s Project Portfolio Management App with the EPM Live Software Development App you can easily manage your software development projects using the waterfall approach to project management and/or the Agile iterative planning method to effectively keep track of all your projects, tasks, issues, backlog tasks, user stories, bugs, etc. You can build your own projects using the EPM Live Project Planner, Agile Planner, or Microsoft Project.  The included apps can be utilized to help monitor your software projects at a more granular level. Valuable reporting information can also be analyzed, and these reports can be used to quickly see where the money is being spent, and which features have the greatest number of issues. The included test case app within the Software Dev app allows for organized storage of all test cases in a central location for quick reference when testing and allows you to manage software development projects within the same system that is used to manage other projects.

With EPM Live by Upland, you can do the right work and do the work right with whichever project management method is best for your organization.

How do I begin? EPM Lives’ Software Development App makes using the Agile approach to software project management simple yet powerful.  Join us Tuesday, August 13th for our Tech Tuesday presentation and demonstration on how we use the Software Development (Agile) App available in EPM Live.

Tech Tuesday Webinar – Using the Software Development App (Agile) in EPM Live!

Tuesday, August 13th 
9:30am – 10:30am 

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