Many projects are kicked off with an air of optimism. It always seems as if the project has endless possibilities. If you doubt this, just observe the pitch that any project manager has as he/she tries to root support for a project. The scenario is almost like that of politicians campaigning for an elective post. But the fact is that any project has a probability of failure and success. A project might start strong, but somewhere in between, it loses track and ends up stalling.
Well, this is not a sentence of doom to all projects out there. All it takes is a highly productive project manager to deliver and materialize the objectives.
This article will, therefore, consider how to realize success by undertaking productive project management the “agile way.”
What Is The Agile Way?
Agility in the basic sense refers to flexibility. It denotes a system that’s adaptable to any situation. It accepts that change is inevitable and that processes should thrive in change. Any agent that applies the agile way of doing things sees change as a constant.
The focus of this system is the outcome of actions rather than the actions themselves. It recognizes that every project should produce results at every point in time.
If your project is to be productive, it has to embrace the ideals of the agile system. The system is simple but has powerful effects. When a problem, setback or barrier arises in the outworking of a project, the ideals of this system can be applied to provide a breakthrough hence contributing to project success.
Project managers who have applied this system can vouch for it big time. The result is always getting things better.
Ideals from the Agile Way
- The Power of 3
This system tends to revolve around three wins or outcomes for each day, each week, each month, and each year. The premise is to focus your time, energy and effort. There is always something that one can do. Individuals just have to identify their wins and ultimately go for them.
Three wins can be used to:
- Get clarity on results
- Highlight what you want to achieve in the future
- Highlight what you achieved in the past
When one applies the 3 wins ideal, they tend to get intentional especially when trying to create a compelling outcome. It enables people to find areas where they can grow and avenues in which they can improve their techniques.
Parties to a project can benefit immensely when they apply this. It enhances productive project management. It can also serve to give a lift or a pull to individuals through their days as they try to meet the project objectives.
- Having Fresh Starts
In life, a fresh start signifies a shift from old standards to new standards. It also entails letting go of what was and focusing on what should be. In the same light, there’s practical value in turning new pages in the outworking of projects. Some processes and actions may at times bring burnout, while some may come off as burdens. Instead of bottling up all these throughout the project, it makes practical sense to shed them off and revamp. Write off any past negative experiences. All it takes is a realization that things need to move forward. Remember that projects are governed by three main ideals:
- Resources (finances)
Thus, it takes for all parties involved to understand that a project needs to be finished within a specific time frame to realize specific objectives within a stipulated budget. This requires a forward looking approach which essentially means that all backward approaches should be shed off.
To illustrate: Let’s say the tasks that were supposed to be carried out the previous day were not finished. What should be your attitude in the present day? Would you look at the unfinished tasks as burdens of yesterday or would you look at the present day as an opportunity to create value? By all means, the latter is the best approach. This is, in essence, applying a fresh perspective to matters which is part and parcel of the agile way of doing things.
A practical way of using a fresh perspective on to issues is approaching each day with the mind of a beginner. Start off your days with writing a To-do list which embodies what you want to achieve in that day.
- Focus On Outcomes; Not Activities
Productive project management should be a result oriented process. In a realistic sense, it’s very easy for people to focus on an activity the whole day and achieve nothing. Absolute focus on activities does not guarantee achievement of objectives. However, the focus on results of activities can actually lead to the achievement of objectives.
What does this imply? It typically means that every person that’s party to a project ought to get a clear understanding of the outcome that they are trying to achieve. This is the genesis of producing meaningful results at the end of activities. What’s more, it even stimulates people to find innovative ways, and ‘shortcuts’ per say, to reach the desired outcome in the most efficient and effective way.
What is a practical way of doing this?
At first, the project manager and his team should clarify details from the onset of the project. This entails getting on the same page with clients and key stakeholders. The following should be clarified from the onset of the project:
- The ultimate project objectives
- The specific timelines
- The team members and their specific roles
- The available resources
- The stipulated budget for carrying out activities
- Ensure Sufficient Communication
Communication is a vital aspect of any project undertaking. Project managers should set a good and viable communication platform to serve the following purposes:
- To relay information to team members and key stakeholders
- To clarify matters
- To provide instruction
- To define activities and tasks
- To assign responsibilities
- To evaluate actions
- To monitor progress
Any breakdown in communication automatically spells doom for the project. It’s better for project managers to be seen to communicate too much as opposed to being seen to communicate a little. Many projects have failed to take off and others have crumbled due to poor communication.
A practical way of keeping communication flowing is doing regular updates to each party at least in the form of an email. Write progress reports to clients at each project phase.
- Keeping Records
Some circles consider keeping records as a preserve of accountants, bookkeepers and secretaries. However, in the real sense, the act of record keeping should be a preserve of everyone. All projects regardless of size and magnitude require documentation. Any argument against this is just ill advised.
A project normally has steps. Each step should be adequately documented. All procedures that were undertaken in a specific process should be recorded. The project manager should take the initiative either by assuming the responsibility of undertaking the documentation process or delegating to a team member.
Documentation is important as it gives guidelines in the event that a problem arises after project completion. It is also important in the action of monitoring and evaluation which is carried at each step of the project. It also acts as a reference in the analysis of desired outcomes and actual output and helps greatly in the diagnosis of problems within a project. Documentation also serves as a case study for similar projects in the future or in instances where the project needs to be upgraded.
We know that you’re under a lot of pressure to deliver on your project. The above 5 tips are sure to make a difference in all phases of your project. Employ any one of them and be assured of productive project management in the best way possible, “the agile way!”