What Is Agile Project Management?

Agile project management is an iterative approach to planning and guiding project processes.

Just as in agile software development, an agile project is completed in small sections called iterations. Each iteration is reviewed and critiqued by the project team, which may include representatives of the client business as well as employees. Insights gained from the critique of an iteration are used to determine what the next step should be in the project. Each project iteration is typically scheduled to be completed within two weeks.

The main benefit of agile project management is its ability to respond to issues as they arise throughout the course of the project. Making a necessary change to a project at the right time can save resources and, ultimately, help deliver a successful project on time and within budget.

Because agile management relies on the ability to make decisions quickly, it is not suitable for organizations that tend to deliberate over issues for a prolonged period or for those that take decisions to a committee.

Within agile development, Scrum has the most to say about exactly what is agile project management (there are also other lean techniques known as Kanban and Six Sigma). On a Scrum project, there are three roles: product owner, ScrumMaster and team.

Agile techniques are best used in small-scale projects or on elements of a wider program of work, or on projects that are too complex for the customer to understand and specify before testing prototypes.Projects that develop in iterations can constantly gather feedback to help refine those requirements.

Where did Agile come from?

In 1970, Dr. Winston Royce presented a paper entitled “Managing the Development of Large Software Systems,” which criticized sequential development (also known as the Waterfall method). He asserted that software should not be developed on an assembly line, in which each piece is added in sequential phases. In such sequential phases, every phase of the project must be completed before the next phase can begin. Dr. Royce recommended against the phase based approach in which developers first gather all of a project’s requirements, then complete all of its architecture and design, then write all of the code, and so on. Royce specifically objected to this approach due to the lack of communication between the specialized groups that complete each phase of work and that’s how the Agile approach began.