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The benefits of agile project management methodologies

9 March 2022

Digitalisation of business has been increasing at a rapid rate for the best part of a decade, this was ramped up during the pandemic. Many businesses were forced to go digital or bring a digital element to their business for the first time. In many cases this was a long time coming and arguably helped their business, for others, it was an impossible task that caused an array of headaches. 

One element of business that has clearly been affected, according to Dr. Owen, an associate Professor in Business Management and Operations at Plymouth Business School, is project management. He describes the process as once “being a linear process, involving detailed planning and preparation before moving on to execution and delivery phases.”

Now, however, he says the process has become more “agile” which has led to many benefits. In today’s article, we’re going to look through Dr. Owen’s research paper and talk about how agile project management may be beneficial to your business. 

Skills to face the change

Working environments are faster paced and this has been exasperated with technological advancements, as well as their adoption into the workspace. Because of this change management and project management skills, as well as the experience has become part of the general management toolkit. Managers in organisations are increasingly required to empower their teams to deliver projects in our ever-changing world. They also now require soft skills to deliver these projects successfully. There is, even more, change predicted not the horizon as we move into the post-pandemic world. Project management skills are going to be in high demand. 

An Agile Future

Agile project management has largely been developed in response to the digital revolution. It employs an iterative approach to project management, repeating steps in a process, building incremental improvements at every stage. This allows for adjustments to be made along the way. Relevant stakeholders can be consulted with and engaged across the development process and are able to respond to the change in the external environment. Meaning that any adjustments can be made earlier in the project life cycle, it’s a more fluid way of working. 

As an example, using some new software implementation would typically involve the creation of a minimum viable test product which is then shared with customers. They will engage with the test product before feeding back their experiences to the project team and developers. These customer responses will then inform the next stages of the product’s development. Working in this way often results in the development of a more bespoke, successful, and relevant product as opposed to one that has been planned in an abstract manner. As mentioned, it’s more fluid as opposed to linear. 

However, agile project management doesn’t just have to be used in a digital setting, it can be applied in a variety of ways in a business. 

Soft skills are key

When training people to manage projects, developing communications and other management skills are key. It is likely that there will be a need to communicate to a diverse range of people, from stakeholders to customers, Your manager must be able to effectively navigate between both. The engagement and interaction with customers and other stakeholders during a development process can be highly beneficial in understanding customer wants needs and experiences. It also means customers have a voice and a stake in the product’s development, bringing them closer to the business. 

The Future?

Approaches like agile project management help businesses retain a flexible approach, allowing for quick response times to situations. Swift action and an ability to react quickly to situations, especially in the post-pandemic world are vital for a business’s survival. In a world where everything is perhaps a little less secure than before and one that is moving so quickly, agile project management is a vital practice for most businesses.

Article based on information from the Plymouth Business School.

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